Mother's column – Mum, childbirth is not a performance!


Christian Life

Chiara Lamberti, CNE.news

A newborn baby. Photo ANP, Koen Suyk

My last childbirth experience was two years ago. The memory is still vivid, and since I have friends who are currently pregnant, I often think about that time and find myself talking to them about it.

Of course, when I think about it, I am still stunned that I myself experienced what happens to a woman's body when she is pregnant and then goes into labour and gives birth. It is an incomparable experience and difficult to relate to. Speaking about that, I have been a very blessed mother. I had two very easy natural births, with unmedicated labour, the loving support of my husband, and the understanding of the medical staff. Despite the vivid memory of pain, everything went wonderfully well, thanks to God.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case for everyone. Often mothers have to recover from the trauma of childbirth. I hear more and more stories of mothers who suffer from their childbirth experience. Many are distressed because the birth did not go according to their plans, and they feel very guilty.


I remember that, when I was pregnant and went to prenatal classes and read so much on the subject, it was all about the mother's willpower. They all talk about how women are designed to give birth, that they can go through anything if they want to, and that with the right preparation, they can be completely aware and in control of their birth experience.

After years in which childbirth was extremely medicalised, hospitalised and treated as a cold medical procedure, there is now a cultural trend of returning to natural childbirth, ancient practices and the spontaneity of labour. It is good that there is this awareness. It's great that mothers are being asked to educate themselves and fill out their birth plan and have an active voice in one of the most incredible moments a woman can experience, but this way of telling the story of childbirth stops halfway.


Everything seems to depend on the mother's ability to practice, to endure pain, do autogenic training, concentrate, and have a perfect birth experience. In this narrative, childbirth becomes yet another performance that women are expected to excel at.

They don't. In the new naturalistic culture, there is a lack of awareness and understanding that sin is a reality that affects the birthing experience. Very unpleasant things can happen, you may not be able to have a perfect, trouble-free birth because we do not yet live in a fully redeemed world.

To keep telling mothers that if they are informed and prepared, nothing can go wrong is to say that we have everything under control. It means telling women that if something goes wrong, it is because of their own incompetence. Unfortunately, both by over-medicalisation and overemphasising the idea of birth as a natural process, it is always the sovereign Creator Who is excluded from the discourse.

Today, when I talk to my pregnant friends, I always say that proper preparation is essential to arrive at childbirth, but not to give in to the illusion that everything depends on us and our ability. The God Who is sovereign over everything is also sovereign over our little birthing experiences. The One Who weaves the baby in the womb is also the One Who decides how that baby will come into the world. We should not be fooled by stories that tell us that everything depends on us.



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