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The Atufa program: Providing specialized support to expectant mothers through labor and delivery

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Sometimes the heroes we seek to emulate are hidden behind closed doors performing their work quietly, day in and day out, without fanfare.

Tal Dadya is one of those.

Four years ago, she was a content producer who ran conferences, vacation programs and events. But that all changed when she heard that Assuta Ashdod needed someone to manage the hospital’s Maternity Club and its “Atufa” project

" I knew right away —that job was my calling."

Atufa (which translates to “wrapped with kindness”) is a special program designed for expectant mothers who require extra support during the birthing process. Whether the expectant mother has psychological problems, medical complications, relationship issues, or severe trauma from previous births, she receives the targeted help she needs during labor and delivery, at no additional cost. The women know with confidence that whatever they share during labor and delivery remains private, confidential, and separate from their medical files.

For expectant mothers, this support is invaluable. The Atufa program empowers these women, paving the way for a positive birth experience and opening the door for healthy parenting and attachment formation. While other Israeli hospitals host similar programs, Assuta Ashdod’s Atufa program is the most comprehensive.

“I’m so fortunate to be here. I have the opportunity every day to challenge myself, to be better, and to help others bring life into the world,” comments Tal.

Motivated to make an even greater difference, Tal studied to be a doula to better understand the women she works with and to have more tools to help them. Tal is so passionate about being present for every woman who requires this service, she allows (and even encourages) patients to contact her via phone, WhatsApp or Facebook messaging at any time, day or night. “I don’t want any woman to have to wait,” adds Tal.

Tal has so many stories to share about the women she meets through Atufa — stories of struggle and triumph. Each one is so different but every story is meaningful.

Last Wednesday, Tal supported a woman laboring through her first birth, clearly in a lot of pain. ”I calmed her down, stroked her back, helped with her breathing. And then I found out she had COVID. So I left the room, put on my COVID attire and stayed with her from labor and birth all the way through the stitches.”

When a woman needs help, she needs help, and Tal does not shy away from difficult situations, nor does her fellow staff.

Another woman Tal assisted was addicted to drugs and alcohol and met her husband in a detox therapy program. Because of her addictions, she couldn’t receive an epidural and had to manage with alternative pain medication. “I was with her in the delivery room. We became friends and continue to be in touch. She’s an amazing woman who teaches me a lot.”

By building real relationships with the women they support, Atufa staff can help them on so many more levels.

Another woman who came to Atufa found out she had advanced ovarian cancer while pregnant, following IVF. While she underwent a C-section, the surgeon also removed the cancer. The baby was immediately brought to the NICU, and Tal visited the young mother in the delivery room. She also attended the baby’s bris. With a satisfied smile, Tal reports that this former patient is now doing well and recently gave birth to twin boys!

Tal not only loves her work, but she also believes in the power of the individualized care provided by Assuta Ashdod.

“We empower women to make choices: some patients elect to stay with their husbands, while others prefer to concentrate and focus independently. We have a department that enables women to be with their babies 100% of the time as well as a regular wing with a separate nursery for babies. We’re not interested in arguing or imposing our ideas on an expectant mother. As long as the mother and baby are healthy, we make sure the mother gets exactly what she needs… and what she wants.”

Maybe that’s why patients come to Assuta Ashdod from all over Israel.

But more than that, it’s the people. It’s the staff working tirelessly behind closed doors, providing exceptional kindness and love to those in need that truly attract others to Assuta Ashdod.

And Tal Dada is one of those along with her special colleagues who run the Atufa program.


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