Birth Happens Speaker Series: Birthing at Home in the Hippie Era
Please join moderator nurse-midwife Elizabeth Yznaga in conversation
with home-birth mothers Estelle Fein and Carol Brendsel. Both women gave
birth at home during the late 1960s, at a time when there were no legal
home birth midwives.
Birth Happens is an exhibition celebrating the history of midwifery in Santa Cruz County at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum Faye G. Belardi Memorial Gallery in Felton.
Visit www.slvmuseum.org for more information.
Felton Branch Library community room
Elizabeth Yznaga CNM-Ret, MSN, DNP developed her OB
clinical expertise from a successful midwifery career (Certified Nurse
Midwife) including hospital, birth center and teaching responsibilities.
She pioneered several midwifery positions and enjoys nursing students
at the University of San Francisco
in critical event simulations. Her calling to midwifery motivated her
to make the hospital better for mothers and babies. As the first midwife
establishing the 30-year-old midwifery practice at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose California, she delivered thousands of babies and fulfilled her calling.
Estelle Fein was born in New York City, as a child of emigrants she was familiar with the old ways. She landed in Boulder Creek via Brooklyn College, University of Utah, and San Francisco State University.
She lived on the edge Haight Asbury in 1965. Deeply affected by the
foment of the times, she cut ties with her family, and the culture of
the 1950s. She attended the mind-blowing experience of the Human B-In at
Golden Gate Park in 1967. In 1969, Estelle and her husband moved to Santa Cruz and opened a meta physical book shop off of Pacific Avenue. She gave birth at home in Santa Cruz
to her first child and moved to Boulder Creek guided by “SPIRIT” where
she met Betsy Herbert. Through their daily talks, they investigated what
it was really like to have babies and build community in primitive
conditions. During Estella’s second pregnancy, she hung out at the Santa
Cruz Birth center with Raven Lang, Kate Bowland, and Betsy. Betsy and
Estelle investigated new forms of education, leading to the home school
movement and charter school movement in the San Lorenzo Valley.
Carol Brendsel took a circuitous route to come to the San Lorenzo Valley in 1969. She has lived in and around Santa Cruz with brief forays to Wisconsin, Nevada, Florida, New York, and New Mexico. Felton has been home for the last 11 years and like Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home.”
She trained as a nurse at a three year immersion program, Philadelphia General Hospital, one of the oldest schools in the US.
She was sure that she never wanted to worked in obstetrics as practices
of the 1960s were tortuous and cruel to mothers and babies. It was not
until she had her own baby at home with a midwife in Santa Cruz
1973 that she began to go to births attended by midwives. She is
grateful for all the mothers and midwives who taught her invaluable
She transferred these skills to the hospitals when in the early 80’s
there seemed to be more midwives than there were people wanting
homebirths. She respects always the woman’s right to choose when and
where and who will attend her.
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