Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1
Faith plays an intricate part in birth and the birthing process. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, an agnostic, or an atheist.
Faith: sincerity of intentions; 2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust : something that is believed especially with strong conviction - Merriam-Webster's DictionaryFaith works with your body and birth, whereas a lack of faith will work against your body and your birth. Faith works its way into many facets of your birthing time and has a direct correlation with how your relationships can affect your labor and birth experience.
- Spiritual beliefs - If you are a person of belief, your faith in a Higher Power can be a great source of reassurance and peace during labor and birth. Meditating on verses or singing/humming is a great tool for relaxation and destressing during labor and birth. An example: as a Christian, I have faith that God created a woman's body perfectly to birth, and He gave promises during labor and birth (Isaiah 66:9, Psalm 121, 1 Tim 2:15). This complete trust (faith) allows a believer to let go to her labor, truly believing in these promises.
- Body and Process - A faith in the process and the woman's bodies abilities dispels fear and perpetuates a positive and health view of the natural aspects and normality of labor and birth. This dispelling of fear removes tension and much unnecessary discomfort during the process of labor and birth and again, allows a woman to wholly let go and give into the rhythms of her body. A woman who is educated to her options can have faith in herself to make the right choices for herself during the birthing time, whereas the woman who doesn't know of her options cannot have faith in herself to make the best choices for herself and allows doubt and angst into her birthing space.
- Care Providers - this includes your midwife or doctor and nurses or midwifery assistants. It is important to have faith in your care providers: faith that they will advocate for your and your babies best interests as well as your preferences and beliefs in the face of normality. It is important to trust and believe that your care provider will not bully you, shame you, hurt you, or coerce you during your most vulnerable state: labor and birth. When you wholly trust and believe in your care provider, you can leave insecurity and the walls of distrust out of your birthing room and trust their physical touch and dialog freely with them about your concerns, hopes, and desires.
- Spouses or Other Support people -I have said it before and I will say it again, childbirth is not a spectator's event. It is a privileged, not a right, for people to be invited to attend a woman during her birthing time. If your mother, mother in law, sister, etc.. doesn't support you, if you don't have FAITH that they will advocate for YOUR desires, if you don't trust that they will not weave fear, insecurity, or upset into your birthing room, then uninvite them. Those who will be with you the most throughout your birthing time will have the most influence on your level of faith during birth. The wrong words, the wrong touch, the wrong personality in the room can bend an already vulnerable woman's perception of her birthing space and process and can shake the faith of a very faithful person. Your doula, mother, or significant other should share your faith and belief in the process, your faith in your choices and abilities, if they are to support you. Because, only then can a woman be freed to be what she has to be to accomplish the work that she set out to do.
Now some would argue that what if your faith doesn't achieve those things that you set out for (i.e. a woman truly wants a natural birth but circumstances truly require a cesarean for the health of mom and/or baby) then faith equates failure and can harm a woman. I disagree with this. Faith is a strengthening, not a weakening. It is a fortifier, giving a woman a hope and a goal.All the strength and force of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.
- James Freeman Clarke
When a woman has faith in the process, but the process goes awry for whatever reason, a woman who has faith in her birth team and her support team still retains faith, and thus, retains her trust at the time of birth. Trust begets love, whereas distrust begets animosity and indifference.
Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love. - Erich Fromm
Likewise, faith also means being able to adjust. As stated before, a woman who has faith in the process, and is educated to her options can retain her faith in herself to make the right choices during labor and birth, regardless of the path that her labor takes her.
On this Sunday, I encourage you to take a look at your faith regarding the process of childbearing and work out your faith within yourself, adjusting plans as need be to accommodate faith (i.e. finding a new care provider, taking a childbirth class, or reconsidering who will and won't be at your birthing time) to make your birth the best it can be.