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November 12 2011 7 12 /11 /November /2011 12:17

WomenStudies

 

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3).

 

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

 

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

 

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them … and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:27, 31).

 

My Birth Story: A Testimony of God’s Hand at Work

 

            Who would have thought that a woman would choose to have an un-medicated homebirth? Is that not just craziness? Why live in the dark ages when one can have a “pain-free” birth, as some would say? At first glance, some women without faith in their amazing bodies would say it is too dangerous, why put oneself and the baby in danger? Just get the ordeal done and over with. Is it that simple? Would one believe birth as portrayed on television? Is birth not utter madness, with excruciating and endless pain that results in getting rushed to the hospital from the restaurant? Why would anyone get pregnant in the first place? Whether one likes it or not, hospitals portray birth as a sickness. Is birth a sickness?

 

              Some cultures see birth as a rite of passage where a woman during birth places her two feet in two different worlds. In ancient pagan cultures, birth was also something very magical where a woman could completely open up to bring forth a new life. What happened to this magical moment for women in Western society? Why has it been tarnished as a dark passage of pain? Can a women still completely open up like some of those ancient statues of our ancestors past? The truth is that women’s bodies have not changed over the thousands of years nor has the mechanisms of birth. The only thing that has most likely changed over the years is a woman’s health and nutrition: two very important aspects to a healthy pregnancy and birth. I now wholeheartedly believe that almost all pregnancy health related conditions such as morning sickness, gestational diabetes, toxemia, and eclampsia can be prevented through proper diet and nutrition. Of course, if you already have one of these conditions, it may be too late to prevent. Therefore, we can thankfully thank conventional medicine to rectify the situation. Hopefully, for future pregnancies we can be ready to counteract these preventable complications.

 

              Nonetheless, women can trust the Word of God for guidance in a woman’s pregnancy and birth. God cares for His creation, especially human begins. And why would He not? The Bible says that God made humans a little lower than His angels (Psalm 8:5) and He made us in His image (Genesis 1:27). God’s creation is good (Genesis 1:31)!  As Christians, how much/often do we stand in awe of God’s Creation? Do we make/spend the time to marvel at God’s Creation? Thankfully, we have the Sabbath written by the finger of God in the Ten Commandments to not work or worry about the things we have to do during the week. The Sabbath is wonderful for pregnant women because women can just put up their feet and relax, unconcerned about life’s worries or what to do or where to go. Sabbath is truly a blessing offered to everyone. God made the Sabbath for man because He knows how much everyone needs it (Mark 2:27). We need to turn to the truth of God’s Word in our lives. When the Bible says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) do we thoroughly do that? Often the bible tells us that we cannot trust man nor even in ourselves. “…that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

 

              King Asa was severely ill in his last days as king of Israel. The Bible retells how King Asa sought out his physicians and not Yahweh (2 Chronicles 16:12). We can assume that King Asa listened to men and not God first. There is obviously nothing wrong with listening to your doctor, but even doctors can be wrong. Some doctors in the early 20th century said there was nothing wrong with smoking. Does that mean we must follow their advice anyway just because they are doctors? That is why everything needs to go to God first in prayer and to seek out what God’s Word says because that is how God speaks to us through His holy spirit. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”” (Psalms 14:1). Now when I first began following Christ who is the only “way” to the one true God the Father Yahweh, I did not first seek healing from God and His creation. I had not been raised to do so. I did not even believe that God cared for our physical well-being through what we eat. I took many medications for every type of ach, pain, sore throat with often serious side-effects. One medication in particular almost killed me when I was 13 years old and any derivative of that medication will today cause me to faint and have heart palpitations. Anything that is not naturally derived must be taken with caution even if the person taking that medication does not show any side-effects. How do we know if long-term pill-popping does not have serious repercussions on our bodies? We do not have enough conclusive evidence to say yes or no, but what is sure is that only God is wise and through His wisdom, God made the heavens and the earth. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

 

              When I discovered that God’s dietary laws have not been abolished with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and that Noah knew about the clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2; 9:20), a whole new dimension to trusting creation for healing and physical well-being literally hit me. I sought to “glorify God in [my] body” by not defiling it with chemicals (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). We are truthfully “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). We are still unable to understand how bone are made inside the womb so perfectly because we “do not know the works of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). The God of love created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7) and God hopes for our well-being:  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). In the beginning, in the garden, God gave Adam and Eve only herbs (plants) to eat which gave them life (Genesis 1:29). When God restores all things through Jesus Christ His son, we will have “the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse, (death)…” (Revelations 22:2-3). If God originally gave His creation only plants to eat wouldn’t it make sense that we will once again only eat plants (Isaiah 65:25). How can we ignore the amazing beauty of God’s wonderful creation now for healing? Hippocrates the founder of modern medicine said: “Do no harm; Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (460-370BC). Hippocrates also believed that the human body had an innate capacity for self-healing. Can you believe that the human body has indeed this capacity? Nonetheless, attitudes have changed over the years and much of conventional medicine does more harm than good. Man refuses to accept his need for God although God in the beginning “…made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). We need to trust God’s wisdom in Leviticus 11 where we are not to eat certain foods. Most of the animals God says not to eat, like pork and shellfish make sense because these animals naturally clean up our earth. These animals naturally hold more toxins. Another natural cleansing and healing substance that we take for granted on this earth is water. Water in its un-polluted and pure form can cleanse and heal the body of most disease. God’s creation is truly amazing. “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14). “For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, And He has set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2: 8).

 

              When we trust God’s creation for healing and trust first natural methods of healing, we glorify God in our bodies. I have been blessed through following God’s dietary laws and through God’s spirit, He also led me to homeopathy and other alternative medicines. With this in mind, my pregnancy was wonderful and I attribute much of it to a healthy and godly diet. I throughly believe now that any pregnancy complication can be solved through good food. The book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth needs to be read in order to understand all the various complications that can arise in pregnancy. And much, as her book describes, can be alleviated through proper eating and diet right from the beginning. In my first trimester, I had a lot of gas and constipation which was immediately relieved through homeopathic remedies and proper nutrition.

 

              When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I wanted to have a mid-wife at my birth. At first, finding a mid-wife looked very bleak because there were all apparently booked.  I did not completely lose hope; however, I said to myself that whatever God wants, He’ll make a way. Anyhow, in the meantime, I went to my family doctor, who told me that I was Rhesus negative. At first, I did not think anything of it until I was later told that I would need to take injections starting at 28 weeks gestation and possibly another two more before and after birth. I did not like the idea. Paul said to glorify our bodies and to not defile them. The shot was also made of blood and since the life force is in the blood, I wanted to be very careful (Leviticus 17:10-15). Do not get me wrong, I was prepared to take the shot after birth but not before because I did not want anything to harm my unborn baby, even though many people will proclaim the injection’s safety. After having such a good experience with homeopathic remedies, I was willing to take a chance on the fact that I would not need any shots during pregnancy. I also had faith knowing that something special occurred at all of the births of my grandmother. My grandmother was supposedly Rhesus negative and had seven children without any problems (All of her children by the way are Rhesus positive). My grandmother’s birth history was far too suspicious to just let go and not research more fully. So, I began to research and study the mechanics of childbirth in our modern hospitals. I soon realized to my horror, that many hospital practices were far from natural and certainly did not glorify women’s bodies nor trust the God who created them. There were far too many stories of women feeling brutalized and even raped through their birth experiences. Too many instances were women even in my own family did not want to retell their experiences other than that I should be prepared to get cut (which is an episiotomy). Why so many stories of hurt, secrecy and betrayal?

 

              Many women accept their birth experiences by defending how we are not made like animals to birth naturally. Many women do not trust their God-given ability to deliver a baby without interference because their bodies are somehow deformed. As I researched, I discovered that there was a huge push in the early 20th century for women to have their babies in hospitals. A true fact that many in the healthcare field wish to ignore is that the risk of infection and death was actually higher in the hospitals in the early 20th century than in the comfort of women’s homes. It appeared through my research that Rhesus negative disease became a serious problem in the early 20th century up until the late 1960s when they discovered how to make a preventative injection to Rh+ blood sensitization called RhoGAM (WinRho in Canada). Rhesus disease does not affect the first child only subsequent children if there has been the mixing of maternal blood with the infant blood. The mixing of the two bloods does not normally occur during gestation; only potentially at childbirth. Once the mother’s blood creates antigens against Rh+ blood from her first pregnancy, any subsequent Rh+ child could die or be in need of a blood transfusion at birth.

 

              When the shot was first created in the late 1960s, Rh- women took the shot immediately after the birth of their baby, not before. And in all truth, the injection is needed immediately after potential blood mixing, (within 72 hours) which is why the shot is technically useless at 28 weeks. One of the reasons why I believe Rhesus disease in infants became quite serious in the early to middle 20th century is because medical professionals were cutting the umbilical cord before the blood had finished pumping, pulling out the placenta forcefully and using forceps and other contraptions to force the birthing process. They also obligated women to lie on their backs which are probably one of the worst birthing positions in which to be (More discomfort for the woman, more bleeding and the baby will take longer to deliver). According to the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, 90% of birthing Rh- woman do not need the postnatal RhoGAM shot. Nonetheless, 10% of these women will become sensitized which is why Ina May Gaskin strongly advices her Rh- women to take the shot after childbirth because one never knows if you will be one of the 10% of Rh- women who will become sensitized to Rh+ blood. (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, p. 201). The truth is, as Ina May Gaskin states that if a woman has medical interventions, the more likely a Rh- woman will become sensitized to Rh+ antigens.

 

             Anyhow, what I had read by one of the greatest American midwives inspired me and that was when I decided to find someone who would be my advocate during my birth. That was when I remembered my homeopath mentioning something about doulas. I soon looked online for a website advertising doulas in my city. I contacted them and I soon found myself in front of a wonderful Christian woman who would be my doula during labor. It was through this godly woman who put me in contact with a Christian mid-wife who prefers homebirth that God answered my prayer. Amazing! God is good! We were so thankful that God answered our prayers and made a way for our daughter’s gentle and beautiful birth into the world. Patience for God’s guidance is a virtue: “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). God asks us to pursue patience and patience will help us (1 Timothy 6:11). Also, soon after finding a mid-wife, I found out that I was not actually Rh- but Rh+. Such relief had been lifted from my shoulders because my family was not very supportive of my decision to not take the RhoGAM shot during pregnancy. God sent the right people for the right time when I needed them. “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Psalm 33:5).Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalms 34:8). God will surely provide for His people as Jesus rightly said (Matthew 6:25-34). We just need to have faith of the mustard seed that anything is possible with God.

 

              Nonetheless, once we had a mid-wife and doula, we were ready to really prepare for birth. The doula collective in my city also offered many interesting courses, one of them being Hynobirthing. In the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Gaskin says that women can have orgasmic births, which seemed rather crazy at the time. However, what interested me the most was that it was possible and that birth did not have to be a long and terribly painful event. Ina May Gaskin explains how fear and tension can have a drastic effect on the birth experience. After reading Gaskin’s book, I decided to learn more about how to bring myself into a super relaxed state of hypnosis during birth. Marie F. Mongan, the author of Hynobirthing says that the amount of endorphins found in our body has an effect of 200 times that of morphine (Hynobirthing, p. 5). She also claims, that the more fear a woman feels during birth, the more pain the woman will feel. What I again found to be the most interesting assertion with Hynobirthing is that labor does not have to be painful unless we allow it to be.

 

              In Mongon’s book, Hynobirthing, Mongon states that the Western world has been greatly influenced by what is called the “Curse of Eve.” Many Christian women wrongly assume that no pain during birth is contrary to the word of God. The truth is that there is no so-called “curse” on all women of all cultures because women with the same physiology as Western women and no contact with western civilization have had births with minimum discomfort. According to Helen Wesel, the Bible extols the blessing of motherhood, the procreation of life and the affection between husband, wife and children (Hynobirthing, p. 36). Apparently, historical records just prior to the time of Jesus indicate that births were often accomplished in less than three hours. These records also suggest that Jewish women at the time of Moses, had their babies quite easily and within a relatively short period of time, often without assistance. What this indicates is that Jewish birthing women show no record of being influenced by the “Curse of Eve”. Mongon also says in her book that neither Hippocrates nor Aristole wrote of pain in their notes on normal, uncomplicated birth. Hippocrates and Aristotle believed, however, that the needs and the feelings of women in childbirth needed to be accommodated. They both strongly agreed that supportive persons during labor were necessary. Hippocrates was the first to organize and present formal instruction to women midwives. Aristotle wrote of the mind-body connection and emphasized the importance of deep relaxation during childbirth. Soranus who put the writings of Aristotle and Hippocrates in book form. Soranus stressed the importance of listening to the needs and feelings of labouring women. He also advocated using the powers of the mind to achieve relaxation to bring about easy birthing. Again, Soranus does not mention pain, except when he wrote of abnormal or complicated birth. Women were to be treated kindly, gently and joyfully during birth. Birth was a “celebration of life” and a rite of passage in Western civilization which drastically changed during the 2nd century AD where the Catholic Church became the state. With the influence of the Church Fathers on the interpretation of the Bible, Christianity’s Jewish roots “of piety, fear of God, love of humanity, love of earthly pleasures, joy in the present and hope for the future disappeared” (The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Infliected Wound. p. 304). The Bible’s interpretations and translations came from men with very misogynist attitudes towards women. These men were also dismissive of the body potential and humanity’s capacity to do good.

 

              Quotes from Church Fathers and leaders:

St Augustine of Hippo – (354 – 430 AD)

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother; it is still Eve the temptress that we must be aware of in any woman…I fail to see what use women can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.

 

Jerome – 4th Century Monk

As long as woman is for birth and children, she is different from man as body is from soul. But if she wishes to serve Christ more than the world, then she will cease to be a woman and will be called man.

 

Origen – (185-254 AD)

Men should not sit and listen to a woman…even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since they came from the mouth of a woman.

 

Thomas Aquinas – 13th Century

…Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while production of woman comes from defect in the active force.

 

The woman is subject to the man, on account of the weakness of her nature, both of mind and of body. Man is the beginning of woman and her end, just as God is the beginning and end of every creature. Woman is in subjection according to the law of nature, but a slave is not. Children ought to love their father more than their mother.

 

              What does the Bible in fact say about childbirth? The word curse used in the Bible is the curse upon the ground, that mankind would now have to work hard in order to survive. “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it” (Genesis 3:17). God never uses the word “curse” for Eve; God states a fact: that from now on Eve will have to work hard during childbirth. Now, with regard to the phrase “In pain [Hebrew word etzev] you shall bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16). It is known that the Hebrew word etzev means “pain, sorrow, anguish or pangs.” However, this same word etzev is translated sixteen times in the King James Version of the Bible to mean “labor, toil and work” ( Hynobirthing,  p. 38).  What does this all mean? It means that the translators of the Bible are human and capable of interpreting language with their own cultural assumptions and as a result capable of choosing one word over another in such a way that the original meaning may be distorted. This does not make the Bible wrong, but it does shed light on how much we are in need of God. Our God is a God of love (1 John 4:7-10), the one God of truth and a loving Father who states the truth and consequence of disobedience. When Adam and Eve decided to disobey God, through one man, “sin entered the world and death through sin and thus death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12). When we now come to passages in the Old Testament with labor, pangs, sorrow, etc with regard to childbirth, we must remember that we are talking about how labor is hard and tough, but it can be done with minimum discomfort. I do not want to give women a false impression of painless births. The truth is that labor is really hard work, just as the Bible says. Whatever feelings we may have, if we are to interpret these feelings as pain, we must remember that it is a type of pain that will not stay with us forever and we will recover quickly from it if we birth as God originally intended.

 

              Anyhow, I did not give myself false hopes as I went into labor, but I knew that the potential to have birth painlessly was possible if you allow your mind to be renewed through God’s truth: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Christ’s sacrifice shows also how much faith God has in human beings. That we are capable of overcoming anything as long as we follow God’s Word, God’s laws and follow Christ’s example, having complete trust in God’s goodness and God’s wonderful creation. Christ redeemed us all in order to have the relationship with the Father that Yahweh always intended for mankind. Through Christ’s sacrifice, the bond that was lost between God and man had been rekindled. Now through belief in Christ’s redemptive power, all believers can have access to the Father through the holy spirit. So that we can: “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24.) God made it possible for us through Christ’s example to “do all things” (Philippians 4:13). Anything is possible with God just as Jesus said (Matthew 19:26).

 

              Imagine what we will truly be capable of when Christ returns and we live on a new earth in new bodies? It is our minds and hearts that we must prepare and be careful of. I can understand more than ever before, how the coming of Jesus Christ is like childbirth. We know it will come, but we cannot say exactly when.For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). We must prepare ourselves and meditate on God’s word daily just as preparation for childbirth is equally important. First time mothers do not know what childbirth is like, but as women we can prepare. The Bible nicely describes the worry for first time mothers in labor: “For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor, The anguish as of her who brings forth her first child” (Jeremiah 4:31) (Remember, anguish/sorrow regarding childbirth does not mean something negative; it relates to how we just do not know what childbirth will be like.). There is great joy in bringing a human being into this world: “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21) (Notice that there is no definite reference to excruciating pain during childbirth). Life is beautiful no matter what the secular world tries to portray of childbirth. As human beings, we owe the world nothing but thanks to God: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). We all have: “A time to be born, And a time to die; He has made everything beautiful in its time… Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:2,11).

 

              To conclude, “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word needs to be followed in its entirety, not just what sounds best to us because it will not have the same effect on our daily lives. All of God’s commandments are a blessing and need to be lived out like Jesus our High Priest did, which will give us great rewards now and in the future world to come. Essentially, after everything that is said and done in this world, all that God’s people can do is: “Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). As a result, we will be blessed just as I have been blessed with a wonderful birth and great people around me for support. All we need to do is believe in God’s power that He showed us through Jesus Christ His son. We need to believe in God’s ability to save and how He has given us the power through His holy spirit to give us the strength we never thought was in us. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross shows believers today how much Christ loved his God and how much God has faith in His creation to make the right choices. And more than anything else, faith in the goodness of God’s creation shows the awesome power of the female body to produce and bring forth new life that women were meant to do.

 

              I pray that my experience has touched my readers and I pray that I will continue to place my full trust in God to overcome life’s storms.

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Dariya 06/29/2017 02:05

This was very empowering to read. I am interested in more of this inspiration of painless labor if we focus our mind and body. Do you have any recommendations (from maybe the Bible) how I can meditate daily to prepare myself for my upcoming labor, that I hope to have one with no pain medicine.
Dariya

Sabbath Keeper 07/09/2017 17:58

Hello Dariya ! Sorry for not answering earlier. I've been busy with work and I recently came down with so kind of illness but I'm on the mend thankfully ! I was greatly inspired by a couple of books before I had my first child. One book was a book called hypnobirthing the Mongan Method by Marie Mongan. In her book she talked about how the Hebrew word "etzev" (translated as pain in Genesis 3:16 for Eve) means "labor, toil, work" but when referring to childbirth translators chose rather "pain, sorrow, anguish or pangs" to translate the exact same word. This same word is found in Genesis 3:17 for Adam but it is translated as toil. In her book, she said scholars say that the prophets made no reference to pain in their writings on childbirth. There is actually no curse placed specifically on Eve - translators were influenced by misguided church fathers who hated women. The only curse that was made was that mankind would have to work in order to survive. In Genesis 2:18 Eve is referred to as an "ezer" or helper in English. It's not any kind of help, it's divine help! Helper in English sounds inferior but it should sound more like "divine partner comparable" to Adam. This same word is used in referring to God who is our divine help and God is by no means inferior to us! The same word "ezer" is used in Deuteronomy 33:7,26,29; Ps 33:20; 70:5; 115:9-11; 146:5. All this means that as a woman you are fearfully and wonderfully made! You're very powerful and capable of having children. You were made for this. A Biblical author Keith Johnson translated Eve or the Hebrew words that make up ezer/Eve as "strong waters." Makes sense, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, bad things can happen in labor, but these things can be expected in this world because it's a fallen world. Not everything is as it should be, but that doesn't mean that you weren't made good and you weren't made to function good. In the beginning I like to believe that before the fall we were perfect. But I believe for the majority of women, most can give birth without intervention and possibly little to no pain if something like a hynobirthing method is used. It's our minds that play tricks on us. And maybe what is said around us...When I had my children, I thought of God who made all living things good which includes me, so I thought as I gave birth and followed the hynobirthing techniques I thought of God who made me good, He made me capable of giving birth without intervention and that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made psalms 139:14. Any “pain” that I felt, I saw it as hard work or toil not a curse. If one works really hard physically in a field, work can also be painful. That's kind of what I would say to myself during my labor. Don't fear, accept the feelings and go with it. Another good book I enjoyed is called the Guide to Child Birth by Ina May Gaskin. A wonderful encouraging book; she's not Christian but she had some very powerful insights. I hope what I have said is encouraging. Please don't hesitate in asking further questions! May God bless you. We will pray for your upcoming birth! It can be very stressful the first child because there's so much out there and much of it is not helpful! May Yah bless you!