Thank you, Robyn -- and all the co-authors -- for putting this sacred book together. It is a treasure. Banned From Baby Showers readers, there is a coupon code for you at the bottom of Robyn's post. Don't postpone ordering -- it expires on Father's Day, which is this Sunday! Yikes!
Spirituality and Childbearing by Robyn Allgood
I am a mother to five children, doula, childbirth educator, ICAN Chapter Leader, and more recently, coauthor of The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. I will come back to that later but to give you an idea of my journey in childbearing I thought I would share a bit of my story.
In approaching my first birth I was very naive about it all. In my mind, the doctor and hospital would take care of everything and I would take my baby home happy. Right? Well, I took a crash course childbirth class at the hospital in which I remember the nurse/instructor saying that one-third of the women in our class would have a cesarean. I was sure I would not be one of them.
However, after a cascade of interventions, I gave birth by cesarean to a beautiful girl. We struggled to establish breastfeeding. Physical recovery was tough but making sense of what I had experienced emotionally and spiritually was what left me hungering for peace. I knew I wanted more children but I could not imagine doing it that way again. (I have a lot of respect for those women who have had multiple cesarean births.) I read and read and read. I was determined to VBAC.
Long story short, my second birth went so quickly that we did not make it to the hospital. My son was born unassisted at home. It was marvelous. I felt as if heaven had opened and handed me a priceless gift. I have since had three more babies in my home assisted by my loving husband and midwives.
Thus began my journey. Each birth has taught me precious lessons written by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in the chambers of my heart. I am a changed woman every time I give life.
While physical and mental preparations are key elements for birth, the spiritual aspect should not be overlooked. This study co-authored by Lynn Callister and Inaam Khalaf, “Spirituality in Childbearing Women,” offers important insights into what we experience on a spiritual level as we give life. (Lynn Callister also wrote the forward for our book.) Within the study “the following themes emerged from the data: childbirth as a time to grow closer to God, the use of religious beliefs and rituals as powerful coping mechanisms, childbirth as a time to make religiosity more meaningful, the significance of a Higher Power in influencing birth outcomes, and childbirth as a spiritually transforming experience.”
The Gift of Giving Life includes numerous birth stories in which mothers (and a few fathers) share their spiritual experiences as they have engaged in the process of conception, pregnancy, birth and parenting. The stories and essays within the book reaffirm childbirth to be a “spiritually transforming experience.” Rebecca Overson shared on page 253 of our book, “It is in birth, my mother taught me, that a woman must show her trust in herself, her trust in God, and be consciously involved in a deliberate act of creation by giving her heart, might, mind, and strength to what is before her.”
The study by Callister and Khalaf emphasizes the importance of allowing women to share their birth stories with each other, including the spiritual dimensions of them, and not just the facts. In addition, health care providers are encouraged to ask, “Do you have any spiritual beliefs [or religious practices] that will help us provide better care for you during your pregnancy and birth?”
So I am curious, have you ever discussed your religion or spiritual beliefs with your caregiver and shared with them how they can better provide care for you during your pregnancy or birth?
How do you think it would impact the way they care for women, babies and families if we did discuss religious and spiritual beliefs surrounding birth?
Have you ever included religious or spiritual preferences on your birth plan? How was it received?
Have you had the opportunity to share the spiritual side of your birth stories?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
For my readers here is a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life. Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code: GWFWXR3F. This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.