Blog November 2012


Birth of Jesus

Birth of Jesus

Did Jesus have a waterbirth? - It depends who’s telling their birth story.

We’ve all heard birth stories. The good, the bad and the fabricated.
​Advent is upon us and the festivities celebrating the most famous birth story ever told have started!

There’s plenty of reasonable evidence that Jesus existed so it’s only down to individuals
​to believe in anything more than that. But that’s not what this article is about.
​Christian, Muslim or not, most people accept as fact that a woman called Mary gave birth to
a ​son called Jesus about 2000 years ago. ​After all, most of us only know what date it is today
​because of this famous birth story.

​So the story goes that Mary had the baby in a stable in Bethlehem.
​She laid her newborn in a manger lined with hay.
It seems that Mary had no choice of where to have her baby.

Perhaps she did have a guardian angel looking down on her. After all, only a guardian angel could pick somewhere as perfect as the Church of the Nativity to spend labour. It’s dark, safe, private and a place where a labouring mother can be left undisturbed.

​​​​I mean look at it, tucked away there. No passing traffic. No doctors. No bed. Perfect – no bed!

So who delivered Jesus? Well, both the Bible and the Qur’an ​​say that it was divine intervention that
delivered the pregnancy to Mary. And whilst the Bible doesn’t say much about labour and birth, the Qur’an
tells how God provided water to comfort Mary. Who knows, perhaps it’s the first recorded waterbirth!

​I hear couples all the time telling me about the delivery, who delivered the baby and how the
​delivery was handled. “The midwife was amazing, all the way through the delivery!” they say.
​It’s like it happened to them, almost like they weren’t there at all.
​And all the while I wonder, was it a delivery or a birth? ​The baby was born, right? You’ll celebrate the
birthday, not the deliveryday. ​The baby was born by caesarean or born vaginally. Will you be sending out birth
or delivery announcements?

It’s very different to the birth stories I hear from women who choose home or a birth centre​​ instead
of a hospital setting for their birth. The midwives often use much less medical language away from hospital.
They know that they don’t deliver babies but it’s the mothers who birth them.

​​Good midwives catch.​​
​Good midwives watch, wait and wonder.
​Good midwives are hands poised rather than hands on.

I don’t dispute that babies born in hospital are sometimes delivered. By that I mean that the birth was expedited and the baby was issued forth from​​ the mother’s womb in an untimely fashion. Sounds archaic? Well lets see….

Forceps originate from about 500 years ago and the first ventouse suction cups used bicycle pumps to create the vacuum.​​ Let’s not even go as far as the drugs derived from pig semen which, in some countries, are still used to ripen the cervix during induction of labour. In the UK we are lucky enough to have artificially produced hormones instead. Caesareans are known to have taken place nearly 2500 years ago whilst only 100 years ago women were still using Chloroform as an analgesic in labour.
Yet, those babies have still been born. And that’s important. The mother gave BIRTH.

There are true medical reasons why some babies must be born in hospital. Also, for some people they will feel most safe and secure in hospital. For others they may well feel that hospital is a place for the sick and as birth is a normal life event then hospital is not their first choice. Like Mary, they will likely choose somewhere private, secure and undisturbed. A place where birth can be sacred and pure, delivery is not likely and where no one is slave to their equipment or machinery. Somewhere like that is the optimum place to release the hormones that regulate the strength, length and frequency of labour sensations.​ It’s that hormonal exchange that prepares the babies to be born and activates the breasts to produce great quantities of milk; it’s those sensations that effectively massage babies lungs ​​in readiness for breathing.

So by luck or by chance, Mary managed to pick a great place to give birth and it appears that it was very positive all round.​​ And that’s the birth story that we are most familiar with. We sing songs about it. We tell our children about it. We send cards to our friends with drawings depicting it. We buy Christmas birthday presents to celebrate it.

Let’s tell Mary’s birth story. It’s a good BIRTH story to tell.​​

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