Saturday, January 16, 2010

Childbirth--Curse or Climax?

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in you will bring forth children.”

The New Oxford Annotated Bible gives a helpful comment on the above found within Genesis 3:16-19,
“Though this is often understood as a “curse” of the woman to pain in childbirth, the word “curse” is not used in these verses. Others have suggested that this text sentences the woman to endless “toil” (not pain) of reproduction, much as man is condemned in v.17-19 to endless toil in food production. The man’s rule over the woman here is a tragic reflection of the original connectedness between them.

This tops some interpretations coming down through the eons around about woman and childbirth and God. Some folks used to have a creepy view that women should not even take Lamaze classes for fear of relieving the pain God assigned to women. My sister, Deborah, gave me The Joy of Natural Childbirth, when I was expecting my firstborn. This little volume begins telling the story of a couple who, while expecting their first child, went to their pastor for some biblical insight into childbirth.

The author, the late Helen Wessel, used this vehicle to dispel the teaching of the curse of pain and espouse the view of childbirth as toil—labor. If I recall correctly—it’s been nearly 29 years since I read it—she equates the birth of child as tantamount to the ultimate, euphoric sexual climax. Hmmm. Wessel may have overstated it, but she makes a vibrant case for women, childbirth, and the grace of God in Christ.

I recommend it.


Becky said...

In the modern era now of medically assisted childbirth with pain control and scheduled births for "convenience" this discussion may be foreign and abhorrent to some readers. Birthing is a complex and spiritual experience, and physically compares to any marathon that athletes train for. The euphoria one feels after the accomplishment of birth is even better than finishing a 26 mile race. Along with the accomplishment you get the wonderful addition of a spirtual bond of mother and child, which never is broken spiritually.

anna said...

Always a favorite topic of mine....having given birth 3 times in the past 4 years, I have thought on this scripture and on birthing. I desperately wanted a natural birth, drug free and fulfilling to reflect a spiritual, transcendant experience that I had created in my mind. I hired a doula for my first birth, which after a long, long, long labor ended climactically! in an emergency c-section. The aftermath of this was reconciling my feelings,my desire and longing with the reality of what actually transpired. It was very difficult and I thought I had somehow failed. With child #2, I again, attempted the perfect natural delivery. God said uh-uh, sorry my dear. And another emergency c-section was done. The feelings were different this time, still disappointing however, I was in a completely different spot in my life than for the first birth. Child #3 Dr. told me c-section planned best way to go. I could have debated that long and hard; I could have found a more willing physician. There are several things I could have done differently. Again, my life position and circumstance weighed in on my decision. I still went into labor prior to c-sect but still had another one. Anyway, here is a link to one of the venues I explored called orgasmic birthing.

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

It's a fascinating process. After I read up the natural childbirth ideas in the book I mentioned, I thought--these are sweet ideas, but I don't think women need another thing to feel badly about. If the safety or the well being of a mother requires intervention including medication or surgery--I don't think anyone should look down on themselves for it...