Sister Space

Give birth peacefully like Mary, the mother of Jesus

By Casey Muhammad | Last updated: Sep 25, 2014 - 9:18:36 PM

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One of my favorite sections of the Holy Qur’an is about the birth of Jesus. As an aspiring midwife, I can’t help but love this story. Why? Because it is a portrait of what birth can be when it is undisturbed and a woman has complete trust and faith in the process of childbirth knowing she is being undergirded by God.

This powerful Surah (Chapter) 19 is named Maryam (Mary). In versus 23-26 Mary wants to give up once the pain of childbirth hits her but a voice reassures her that the Lord has provided food and water for her to eat during labor and tells her also to not allow others to disturb her while she is laboring. This is profound for this is not a picture of birth today where women are hooked to machines and IVs, told they can only eat ice, laboring on their backs in stirrups and endure many unnecessary interventions that leave many women feeling dissatisfied on some level with their birth experience. The predominant culture of birth today is based on fear. Many women fear the pain of childbirth so much, that they would prefer to have various medications administered and procedures done disregarding the fact that these can have potentially dangerous effects on mom and baby as well as negatively impact the mother-baby bonding experience post birth.

For instance, did you know that the anesthetic drug injected into the spine during an epidural to produce a numbing effect is derived from cocaine? Epidurals may provide temporary “pain relief”, however they can cause longer labors, increase risk of tearing and increase risk of C-sections. Not only does the anesthetic drug go into the mother’s bloodstream, but it also goes into the baby’s bloodstream which can affect the baby’s immune system as well as their fetal blood and oxygen supply.

Many of the interventions offered in hospitals during childbirth are unnecessary and can even be harmful. Yet still time and time again, healthy women are choosing to birth in hospitals. Maternity care has become a billion dollar industry so of course birthing outside of hospitals will be discouraged even though studies prove it is a safe option that was once the norm. Wealth is being elevated over the health of our many women and babies. Pregnancy is not a disease or sickness and a woman does not have to be that screaming, cursing, “crazy” woman depicted on television telling her husband she hates him for “what he did to her”.

Yes, birth can be painful, but it is also a powerful, transformative experience when coming to it with an informed mind and faith in one’s innate ability to give birth with God’s help. Yes sisters this power lies within you.  Let your faith chase away your fears. I implore all women to study (for knowledge helps to remove fear) and consider out of hospital birth options such as birth centers and homebirths, where you will have a better chance to birth undisturbed by unnecessary medical interventions. In a world where we need to birth more children of purpose, destined for greatness and made for the new world to come, we must begin to thoughtfully consider the conditions they are birthed into for it does matter.

Although ultimately each family must decide what is best for them, it is important that an informed, educated decision be made based on facts. It is time for birth to be transformed and to return to birthing our little gods, little world healers and nation builders in love and peace. You can do it “Mary” (smile).

Casey Muhammad is a doula and childbirth education student.