mothers, daughters, and childbirth

“Perhaps our children will grow up familiar with birth and knowing it to be a positive, fulfilling process, but for most of us that discovery, and a corresponding effort of deconditioning, must occur when we become pregnant or are contemplating having a child.” (Rahima Baldwin, Special Delivery)

I read that line last week as I flipped through what I still think is one of my top picks for birthing books. I couldn’t help but think of my mother, who shaped my entire concept of pregnancy, birthing, and babies. She was the one who put forth the effort of being reconditioned, and as a result, I was the child who grew up familiar with birth, and thinking of it as hard, yes, but hardly negative.

One of my mom’s life messages, whether she’s ever set out to preach it or not, is, “What is God’s design?” She’s a true Creationist. What I mean is, the decisions she makes day in and day out reflect her firm belief that God made our bodies, and that His design is good. Pertaining to childbirth, this means that she actually believes God made a woman’s body to nurture and sustain a baby for nine months, and then to deliver that baby.

(As an aside, Ina May Gaskin writes that jokes comparing childbirth to forcing a golf ball through one’s nostril sort of upset her, especially when told to a nervous first-time mother. That’s simply not a fair comparison, because while our nostrils are not intended to fit around a golf ball, our bodies are intended to deliver full-grown, healthy babies. I thought that was a brilliant point!)

This, then, is the idea that I was raised with. Mom didn’t spout negativity about labor and delivery as the date approached, although she would occasionally admit to moments of panic! Rather, we saw her dutifully stretching, walking until the last day, eating well, and generally approaching delivery with determination and preparation.

My midwife commented to me last week on how well I’m moving about still, and how many women, by week 37, are incredibly awkward and stiff. Huh, I replied. Well, I guess I just grew up watching my mother, and she never slowed down a bit, and so perhaps that’s my idea of how to handle late pregnancy?

Yes, I’ll give credit to my mother for that, too.

In fact, more and more I realize how much effect Mom had on the subtleties of my attitude towards birth. I am so, so thankful. So thankful. There has been no deconditioning for me to do. I simply reaffirm the thoughts and ideas that are already well planted and watered by a courageous, faith-filled mother.

I write all this largely to communicate what a gift we give our children (and especially daughters!) when we tackle the issue of fear in childbirth. Yes, I can’t overstate what a gift I esteem this to be.

7 Comments mothers, daughters, and childbirth

  1. brietta

    Yes, yes. I was just thinking the other day about how the idea of a c-section was just never in my mind going into childbearing because I’d seen Mom (and many other women– what a great culture of childbearing and breastfeeding and nurturing we were brought up in!) simply have babies. It was an ignorant sort of “since it’s natural it must be easy” sort of thought, but more that women giving birth is a very natural thing and therefore it CAN be done.

    Anyway, I’m so glad Mom shaped my idea of pregnancy and childbirth. She’s awesome.

  2. Keila

    I totally agree, she is awesome and may I say that even when I didn’t see her carry a pregnancy or have a baby, she did bring amazing insight into a shapeless and maybe even undermined my entire life. What a blessing! I hope I learned enough to pass it on to my girls in my own life!

  3. angela

    he there! 37 wks already? wow! congratulations! so looking fwd to hearing the news and seeing pics of this new baby blessing! awesome! :) i, too, always love the end of my pregnancies. i don’t know if it’s as much of a legacy, as it is the grace of God and just sheer joy for me. however, i have to say, i am now a fan of epidurals…it helped me out a lot on this last one-my body was able to relax and do what it was made to do-i fully support having an intercessor-epidural and prayer is how i best deal w/natural childbirth.:) i am from a lg fam too, but i just don’t remember much of how my mom was at the end, though i think she enjoyed it. love the pic of jameson eating choch. too cute. neway. hope all is well w/you and the rest ofyour fam. … you make nice bags. i like the pic of the red and blue one on this pg. nice work. :)

  4. Laura

    Hi! This is such a great post. “Her children arise and call her blessed” came to mind. I hope she reads this! Just the other day I heard her comment on how much she loved being pregnant and that she even wept after she had you and saw another woman who was pregnant. I don’t get to talk to your mom that often, but every time I do she always lifts me up, even when she doesn’t realize it. I hope to be even half of the woman she is someday! I’ve got a LONG way to go but Lord willing I’ll get there eventually! :)

  5. Danelle Dennis

    I would have liked to deliver naturally but some women have complications and it is safer for her and the baby to have a c-section. I think that those things need to be kept in mind. I don’t know many women that would chose a c-section, but i am grateful for the ones i had bc i don’t know what would have happened if i didn’t. Any risk to my baby is too high. I won’t take it. My Mother made childbirth look easy and takes about it like it was nothing. I had that to learn from but sometimes their are risks and i won’t gamble with my child’s life. I agree that without complications natural is the way to go.


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