I’m embarking on a series of interviews with people in my life that are moving toward abundant life in specific areas. My goal is to learn from them, and stimulate thought and conversation about what abundant life means in practical terms. If you have people you’d like me to interview, I’d love to hear from you.
I’m beginning the series where we all begin. This post is not just for pregnant women or even women in general. Thinking carefully about how birth is handled in our society, and how birth and rebirth happens in an ongoing way in our lives is valuable for everyone .
A few months ago, a friend overheard me telling one of our birth stories. She said my face lit up and I spoke with more confidence and excitement than she’d ever heard before. She felt that God was challenging me to bring the same trust in the process that I have regarding birth into other areas of my life. I have been meditating on this challenge for the last several months. I decided to reflect on birth and see if I noticed anything that I could apply to the areas of uncertainty I’m struggling with. Here’s my interview with Vicki Davis, a woman who understands birth better than anyone I know. (She has also been present at the births of 2 of my children.)
Briefly summarize your philosophy about birth.
I believe that just as the process that brought the baby into existence was natural, personal, and private, so should birth be. The Lord caused the baby to grow perfectly, according to His will, and He can bring delivery. He can give the birth attendants intuition, knowledge, and wisdom for EACH individual pregnancy and birth. (It helps if the attendant has studied and has knowledge to draw on). I also believe that the way a woman gives birth can determine the kind of mother she will be. If, as women, we start out this journey of motherhood by gaining knowledge, knowing how our body works, how the baby grows, how our nutrition and even our thoughts and attitude, affect our baby, labor and birth, how much more confident we are to raise them! If we start out by giving it all over to the medical community and let them dictate everything, I believe we are not as confident and more likely to rely on others to help raise our children. (Doctors, public schools, etc…)
How has your understanding of birth affected your faith (and vice versa )?
I have been blessed to witness some pretty amazing births! I think it’s interesting how God has allowed me to see certain scenarios played out in the hospital with interventions and trauma and then the same ones at home without worry and much peace instead. I think this is a good life lesson. We often worry about things and try to “fix” things that, if we just wait patiently, God will “birth” in His own sweet timing. Ugh. SO hard to live that.
What would you say to a woman who has had a traumatic or painful birth experience, or is fearful that she will?
This has happened. I let her share with me her story, I let her grieve, asked her how it affected her as a mother as well as how it was affecting her current pregnancy and upcoming birth plan. *usually* traumatic or painful birth experiences are caused by mismanagement. Usually, just a hands off approach will help. I did personally have a horrendously painful and long birth with our seventh child, however, the ones that followed were not like that. Each baby is different as far as that goes, and an exceptionally painful birth once doesn’t mean they will all be that way.
What would you say to a husband who wants his wife to have the best birth experience possible?
I would tell him to watch Business of Being Born and read tons of books, like Gentle Birth Choices. I would also suggest he trust her instincts. Birth can affect his wife forever, something that men may not understand. If he still needs help deciding anything, I’d have him talk to my husband. Only another man can truly understand how the man feels about his need to protect his wife and child.
What do you make of the belief that women should expect pain in childbirth as part of “the curse”?
The Hebrew word is translated “pain” for women and “toil” for man, so it really means that giving birth is work, which we know it is. I know some women have pain free births, and some of these women are not even believers in Christ. I’ve never experienced pain free birth. My last births were, however, very enjoyable while being painful. The key was focusing on God and praising Him for this birth process. For this baby and my body which was created to give life. Birth IS hard work but I don’t think it should be feared as it is. I think the pain of birth and the sheer and utter joy we feel immediately after actually help us to bond with our babies. I do not think the pain of labor is the curse. I think fearing the pain of labor is what gets us in trouble. Is our fear of birth bigger than our faith in God? Then birth will HURT. So many women stop at 2 or 3 children because of the pain of it. I would give birth again in a heartbeat just to experience the joy!
What led to your decision to become a midwife?
Having my twins in the hospital via c-section, getting deathly ill with an infection, having a horrible time nursing and bonding with them as a result. Before the birth, a midwife I knew told me that she would be happy to help me deliver at home and I disregarded her. After the whole ordeal, I looked into home birth and went on to have 6 of my own. I felt the call to be a midwife even while researching it all those years ago.
What scripture passage or concept has come alive for you as you serve pregnant and laboring women?
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” Psalm 139:13-14
This is a concept that is applied to BOTH the new baby and the mother. He created them both. He created the baby to fit through the birth canal and to breath once born just as He created the mother’s body to grow and birth the baby, to deliver the placenta , to heal from the process, and also to nourish the baby. Beautiful!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I have been to births, and I was at my grandmother’s side when she died. I felt the presence of God just as much at the death as I did at the births, as if His Glory comes down. It’s interesting that I have not felt/experienced this at medicalized hospital births with tons of intervention. It is as if when someone chooses medicine and intervention over choosing to trust the Lord, He gives them over to it. Having seen the same scenarios play out at home vs hospital, I see where the appreciation is placed. “Wow! God is amazing! What a wonderful birth!” or “What would we have done without xyz intervention? Surely we would have died.” Why would He be where He has not been invited or, in fact, has been ignored? I could be totally off base, but this is what I’ve observed.