Perpetuating Fear

I am going to start with a warning: this is a rant about Christian women and how we talk to one another. 

Dr. Gregory House made an astute observation last season when he said “Pain makes us make bad decisions. Fear of pain is just as bad a motivator”.

Yeah, you who know me know where I am going with this one.

What is our problem?! Who you ask? Us, women! And especially Christian women! We think it is a ‘good story’ to tell of labor and birth horrors. We think it is ‘sharing in the powwow of motherhood’ to tell a bigger and better tale than the last person. We mislead ourselves into believing that we are giving a realistic view of birth to share the bad and the ugly of deliveries. We con ourselves into the notion that it is ‘better for the uninitiated to know ‘the truth’ by giving ALL the stories of birth’.
"The United States has a peculiar history about childbirth. There is a higher level of fear of birth in this country than we see in so many cultures around the world-and I think it has to do with our own peculiar history of absolutely destroying the profession of midwifery in the early twentieth century. When you destroy midwives you also destroy a body of knowledge that is shared by women, that can't be put together by a bunch of surgeons or a bunch of male obstetricians because physiologically birth doesn't happen the same way-around surgeons, medically trained doctors-as it does around sympathetic women." - Ina May Gaskin

Sugar coat it if you will, but giving the gruesome ‘facts’ of a birth of a friend, a family member, or yourself, in a way to elicit a reaction, is fear-invoking. There is nothing to gain here, not knowledge, not preparation, not comfort and encouragement... nothing but fear.

We are called, instead, to Titus 2:3-5
“Similarly, the aged women are called that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, but teachers of good things; that they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God not be blasphemed.”

For those of you who are not Christian, this is still good advice: that the elder women teach the younger women by modeling becoming behavior, giving knowledge, and raising the younger women to be of sound mind (which is the Greek wording used for sober here). Oddly, this is the role that, so often, a midwife will take with her lady-in-waiting: mentoring the mother-to-be in soundness and preparation for laboring, childbearing, rearing, and sexuality.

How can we teach the next generation, or even help this generation to be of sound mind when we are instilling fear and trepidation into their minds at every twist and turn? Not only in childbearing, but in all areas of womanhood… If you don't believe me, consider how many of these you have heard and can finish:

“Oh my goodness, labor hurts SOOOO….”
“And she tore from….”
“I am getting the epidural while I am still in the….”

And it does not start there, it starts at marriage:
“He is going to want sex ALL…”
“Just wait, the honeymoon ends before…”

And it continues beyond childbirth:
“You think you are tired now, wait until…”
“Breastfeeding was a horror. My nipples…”

Let me guess, you could finish just about all of those? It is because we have all heard it. And was the intent of the person saying it to educate and prepare only? I doubt. And, if you have ever been guilty of this crime, you should feel adequately shamed for your hand in instilling fear into the poor young woman in attendance. I know I feel shamed to know that I have been guilty of this as well earlier in my life.

BUT, I believe it is time to stop instilling fear into the ‘uninitiated’. Whether it is in childbirth, marriage, child rearing… whatever area of female sexuality that it is, its sole purpose is to tear down a woman emotionally and mentally. It is time to begin building up.

We need a new generation of women who delight in their relationships, their bodies, their childbearing, and their childrearing. In past generations (I am talking our great grandmothers and before) it was a delight and a blessing to find a husband, to find yourself fertile, and to raise a family. God calls children a blessing, and ‘an inheritance from the Lord’. God says that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing – we are called good things, is this not to be delighted in? He himself instilled the marriage union and blessed it, then why are we cursing it? Every woman in the Bible who gave birth turned right around and praised God! Shouldn’t we praise the process and He that created it before the blessing is given?

Don’t perpetuate the fear of childbirth in a woman, refrain from the ‘fishing tales’ that so many of us have heard about a friend of a friend... instead, give studies and facts, not personal experiences – unless those personal experiences delight in the process and the wonder of our bodies. Reclaiming the awe, beauty, and miracle of birth does not start in the mind; it starts in the spirit - lifting up, praising, and nurturing the pregnant woman – feeding her on goodness, joy, and trust of her body and birth.

Her emotional health is as important as her physical and mental health. From there, we can begin to believe we can achieve great things – like bringing life into the world.


Anonymous said...

Strong words. I never considered having my children at my labors. Then again, I don't have children yet. You have given me something to think about though.

Nicole D said...

I hope that you continue to give it thought. It took me all but the last labor to make my mind up - and I wish it hadn't.

Anonymous said...

Great article. One of my clients who had a baby shower at our church recently, and I pulled her aside and told her to ignore any horrible birth stories she hears today. Afterward I quizzed her about it, and she said nobody had told her anything. I was really pleased at the behavior of those women. Similarly with my recent wedding, nobody was negative about marital intimacy. I feel really blessed with my church, and hope that others follow suit.

Jessica said...

Thank you, I appreciate the food for thought here.


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