Australian Olah-Monique Tempelhof: International Day of the Midwife

Today marks the International Day of the Midwife, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the enormous contribution of midwives to maternal and newborn health. In Israel, midwives are considered ‘the heart of the delivery room’ – it is midwives who accompany a pregnant woman from hospital admission to birth, and play a vital role in women’s health and wellbeing. We spoke to two Olot about their experiences working in Israel as midwives. Monique Katz: Licensed Midwife/NurseMonique Tempelhof

As I’ve always identified as a modern Orthodox Jew, it was obvious to me I would make aliyah – just as I forever knew I wanted to be a midwife! I was born and raised in Melbourne Australia, where I completed my degree in nursing and midwifery and then did a second degree in health promotion, which I worked in for a few years before making aliyah in 2011.

I grew up in a really loving family, and always felt I had a unique ability and instinct with mothers and babies. After earning my degree in nursing, I worked in the NICU for a year and came away with this really warped notion that all babies are born sick, or premature. When during my graduate year we had the option of working on a different ward, I decided to try midwifery and have never once looked back.

My experience of working as a midwife in Israel is unique, as I work in a religious Jewish hospital– Shaare Zedek, in Jerusalem. We have approximately 22,000 births a year! That’s a lot of babies! We are a team of around 110 mostly religious midwives. On chagim (holidays) and shabbatot transport will be sent to pick us up and drop us off after a shift, kiddush and havdalah are made for us. A seder plate is laid out for you on Passover eve, megillah reading on Purim – it’s completely unique, even for Israel.

I am often astonished at the uniqueness of midwifery, the adrenaline high, the incredible feeling of helping to bring life into the world and helping fellow women at such a vulnerable moment. I’m engulfed by the responsibility of caring for a mother and her unborn child, the gift of being present during a very intimate time for a mother, a couple. Working as a midwife is the gift of being witness to miracles, on a daily basis.