Birth with God

Much of the world's perspective on Christianity and birth is "eve's curse" - that day when Eve was deceived and birth was forever changed to painful.  That is a misconception in itself, and you can find articles about it on the Best Perinatal Articles post.  There are numerous lessons to be learned from reading through various stories in the Bible that may not pertain directly to birth, but it is also amazing how many metaphors are used through scripture to relate to the work of a laboring woman, and the connection between a mother and her nursing baby.  This was no nonchalant task, and finding guidance through this time in the Bible is quite comforting to many Christians.  (There are also numerous perinatal specialists/classes/doulas...etc. specifically with Christianity and the Bible in mind).

I'm pretty impressed with the Bible app from YouVersion.  It is such a great way of interacting with the Bible, getting reminders, and following topics I may not have connected without someone else's guidance.  The Parenting by Design reading plan is wonderful - a very positive approach to parenting - and all inspired from teachings of the Bible.  I decided to submit my own plan for their review in order to make a daily perinatal devotional easy to read through and follow a weekly basis.  I don't know if the plan will be fully accepted, as it is currently under review, but I am laying it out here for those who want some inspiration and guidance along their walk.  The idea behind the plan is to read one devotional a week covering topics from conception, bumps in the road, fears, empowerment, support, pain, breastfeeding and more.  It is a 50-week plan, so it is sure to cover even the longest pregnancy as well as those first weeks postpartum; however, right now this post is the only way to access it so just read through leisurely and check off each devotional every week (or once a day - or whatever works for you!).

1.       You will find the spiritual journey of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood so amazing.  The closeness you will feel with God and all his desires for you will become clearer with every experience.
God has known you, and he has known your children even before you knew they were there.  He has created a spirit in this little one that will help guide you on your journey through many experiences.  You will feel their personality from the first kicks, the first laughs, the first cries – and know that God has had a hand in it all.

Jeremiah 1:5

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

2.       Sometimes, we long to be with child.  Our mothering instincts take over and these thoughts are the only things that cross our minds.  Take comfort in knowing that God has a plan for us and our patience now will allow us to be stronger parents.

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

3.       We want to be married, we want children, we want our baby here, we want this and that.  Remembering that God is our priority first will put our earthly desires into perspective. 

Psalm 37:4

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

4.       The fruit of the womb, the fruit of the trees… offspring is described in countless parts of the Bible for various reasons.  This reward is special and we should not take this ability lightly.  Your health has a direct effect on the health of your pregnancy and your child.  Take care of yourself, spiritually, mentally, and physically so that your children will reap those benefits.

Genesis 9:7

And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Matthew 12:33

Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his frui

Galatians 6:7

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

5.       Childbirth is ancient.  Pregnancy and birth has occurred since the beginning of time.  Do not go into this blindly, for medicalized birth is a new option in the bigger picture, and our outcomes are not proving better.  Birth is a normal biological function and God made our bodies perfect.  Look for the groups of families that are working to normalize birth to share their positive experiences with you.  You will find those that have birthed, safely, at home almost everywhere you go and you will find women that have been through a similar experience of your own.  Look at our history and the incredible amount of people that populate the earth for an understanding in the amazing ability of the birthing woman. 

Genesis 3:20

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

6.       No matter what road you come to, you may find times in your life to be difficult.  Trying to conceive, miscarriage, preparing for new life – every situation is handled differently by each person.  Look to God for guidance as He will guide you every step of the way and bring you comfort in any moment.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

7.       Through God, all things are possible.  When you feel like you cannot handle a situation, remember that His glory surrounds you.  You have all the strength you need within you as He will not provide you with a situation that you cannot endure.

Psalm 71:21

Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

8.       The comparisons of a mother’s love are known throughout the pages of the Bible.  The beginning of your pregnancy can be met with a world of emotions and physical feelings.  Just as your mother may have comforted you, and just as you will comfort your babe, God will comfort you in sickness, health, and through birth.  Finding a support group of positive birthing women is valuable, also, for that connection.  To be able to speak with other women about previous birthing experiences, new birthing experiences, or our own personal road to a calm and fear-free birth is priceless.  There are ICAN groups, Breastfeeding Cafes, La Leche League, Birthing Socials/Meetups and everything in between for a positive path to birth. 

Isaiah 66:13

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

9.       A “virtuous woman” as described in Proverbs can create the picture of emotional and physical health – two things that are necessary for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  Remember that pills and procedures cannot fix our choices for a healthy lifestyle.  What you choose negatively to put into your body (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) cannot transform into something positive.  When we surround ourselves with healthy food, healthy lifestyles, and healthy conversations – we project those choices in our pregnancy, birth, babies, and postpartum.

Proverbs 31:28

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

10.    God has a hand in the very creation of this being inside you.  The developmental process is delicate, especially in the early months, and taking care to assist God’s design will allow a healthier experience all around.  Ultrasound can alter the cells of the developing baby, medications can affect circulation and nourishment, and the list goes on.  Learn about all the procedures and affects of your choices so that you can make informed decisions for your family.

Psalm 139:13

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

11.    As pregnancy continues, and we start to learn about all the implications we have, we can worry about every choice we make.  Know that your choices do have a significant effect, but above all, e have the experience we need for our spiritual journey.

Philippians 4:6-7

6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

12.    You will find the numerous ways that children will be a blessing in your life – and the ability to carry a child is one of the most blessed experiences you will endure.  To feel their first kick, their movements, and be a part of their creation is nothing less than God-given.  There are studies that show parts of our children’s cells will forever be with us in various parts of our body and can do great things.  The entire design is such an amazing process – from conception through breastfeeding.

Psalm 127:3

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

13.    I wrote an article titled “The Seasons of Pregnancy” for Kaia magazine that details the amazing way our daily life can encourage perinatal health.  God has given us everything we need from the grain of the earth to the hormones of labor and the placenta uses for postpartum health.  Take advantage of the natural world and your immediate surroundings for their benefits to a healthy birth.

Psalm 104:14

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

14.    Every effort you put into your pregnancy will be noticed.  In this day, it is easy to feel as though a care provider can just take care of you, but it is important to know that you are responsible for every choice you make.  Having that responsibility can be an overwhelming feeling.  To have the care of yourself and your child in your hands is to accept a very important position, but remember that God blessed you with this position, and he knows that you are capable.  Learning about the birth industry will help you make the best decisions for your family, take responsibility for your care, and have an empowering experience.

Galatians 6:4-8

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

15.    When you take control of your birth experience, you will feel more empowered by your choices.  Taking responsibility for our choices and knowing that we directly affect the outcome of our births can be overwhelming at times, but knowing that God walks with us during these decisions is comforting and our effort now will provide us with better results later whether that is a smoother birth or an understanding that we did not take our motherly task lightly.

Hebrews 6:12

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

16.    It is common for a mother to be told “take it easy” while she’s pregnant, and while every pregnancy will lend itself to a different level of activity according to that situation, a mother’s body is amazing and works well when she prepares for the labor and birth.  By staying active and not allowing others to wait on you (unless medically necessary), you will be able to keep up your stamina for birth, increase your energy, and enjoy your experience.  Postpartum is a time to allow others to help you so you can rest and nurse your little one.

Lamentations 3:27

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

17.    With the baby in the womb, it is common to think of our comfort and feelings while not fully grasping the impact it has on the baby.  A baby’s cry is piercing, but their silence in the womb can be trickier to understand.  Take great care in all your decisions and always keep the baby in mind when considering the implications of your choices.  Remember your BRAIN questions (Benefits?  Risks?  Alternatives?  Intuition?  Nothing?) when making decisions and you’ll be better informed. 

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. 14. Let all your things be done with charity.

18.    God makes it clear that our choices affect our future.  We cannot give up our responsibility and expect anyone else to take care of us as we never know what situation may arise that we will need the knowledge ourselves, the tools ourselves, and the strength ourselves.  Prepare for your birth spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Learn about the birth industry, your options, your alternatives, and not what to expect from birth, but how you affect your birth.

Matthew 25:8

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

19.    Be careful who you surround yourself with during pregnancy as they will become your inner voice.  There are numerous groups dedicated to empowering pregnancies and healthy choices during this time.  Do not follow in the footsteps of those who have given up their responsibility to the hands of someone else.  Birth is not the scary and medical event that it is often made to be.  Learn how your body works and how you can be comfortable in labor.  Learn about your options for birth locations and care providers as these choices will have the biggest impact on your birth experience – from pain to interventions and health.  A title does not indicate knowledge, experience, or understanding.  It is important to select your birth environment wisely so that it supports your birth wishes.

Proverbs 13:20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

20.    Put your trust in God as he will take away your fears.  He will show you the path, but you must choose to walk that way.  When you feel overwhelmed, remember to surrender to his will and he will comfort you.

Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

21.    Some mothers may describe their births as painful, but God does not present us with any experience that we cannot endure if we put our faith in him.  A woman will forever remember the way she was treated in birth, but if her birth environment caters to a biological birth, the pain will be such a miniscule part of that experience.  When we can listen to our bodies, we can move and work with our baby to increase our comfort.  Likewise, when our pain increases, our body naturally releases beta endorphins (that work like morphine) to reduce our pain sensations.  It is that oxytocin rush (the love hormone) after the birth and during breastfeeding that makes birth such an amazing event that mothers choose to go through multiple times.  Do not be frightened by birth, as this is the most amazing experience you will go through.  The love you will have for this child is exponentially greater than any discomfort you may experience.

John 16:21

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22.    There are multiple versus in the Bible that correlate to the labor experience.  Although pain may be used in some translations, it is not used in all.  Likewise, looking further into the versus, we can deduce that it is not excruciating pain that a woman feels, but a sense of intensity, work, and submission.  When labor sensations increase, a mother is perfectly capable of managing those sensations, though her focus is completely on each contraction.  She will be unable to focus on anything else but the birth of her baby.  This increases her awareness of her child, increases her oxytocin to allow a more intense bond with the child, and allows her to listen to her baby to help the baby move through the birth canal in the smoothest manner.   

Psalm 48:6

Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.

23.    Not everything available to us is beneficial and some things that appear good aren’t always what they seem.  Medications, interventions, and various other choices can be tempting.  Everything we put into our body reaches our baby and many interventions have serious side effects, yet all interventions change the birth process.   It is important to really weigh the pros and cons (and understand there are often alternatives) of each decision. 

Genesis 3:6

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

24.    We can practice relaxation, we can be educated, but sometimes there is simply fear that lingers with us.  Maybe it is fear of the unknown, fear of past birth experiences, fear of others’ birth experiences…etc.  Be still and take moments of peace to just be with your thoughts and talk with God.  He will show you the answers and calm your fears.

When you birth, your contractions will always give you a break, even if just for a moment to catch your breath – he has designed you perfectly.

Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

25.    Though science has discovered so much about fetal development, there is simply no way to understand God’s intricate design, and this is part of the magical process of pregnancy and birth.  To give your trust to God, knowing that He is taking care of you, lifts a weight off your shoulders.  You can influence this time, but you cannot control your pregnancy, labor, or birth.

Ecclesiastes 11:5

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

26.    There is nothing God is not capable of bringing you through.  Women have been birthing for hundreds of years, and yet many of us still find this time so scary.  We fear what we don’t know, and we fear what seems bigger than us.  The majority of couples today, and for the past hundred years, have not been learning about birth.  The perinatal experience has been medicalized (and not necessarily for the better) and empowering knowledge is no longer being passed through our culture.  When others try to fear you into choices, scare you with their birth stories, and give you misleading information remember that not only is there an empowering side of birth, but God is on your side.

1 Corinthians 2:3

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

27.    When a woman is committed to a healthy and happy pregnancy, she is seen as radiant.  The way one carries themselves speaks mountains about their inner beauty.  This not only brings confidence within herself, but confidence within the new dad, and this is vital for mom’s support system.  The relationship of the mother and father is the foundation of a healthy birth and parenting experience.  When you make choices from the heart, and when you parent from the heart, you will find the most incredible form of happiness.  Dad will have the biggest impact on mom’s ability to stay healthy, birth naturally, and stick with breastfeeding.  Dad’s perspective on health, birth, and the mothers’ needs postpartum are a fundamental  part of a happy perinatal experience.  Likewise, when dad trusts his wife, she builds confidence and trusts his supporting abilities. Working together, they can create a healthy and happy home.

Proverbs 31:11

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

28.    It is common for mothers to undergo routine testing during pregnancy such as Doppler monitors, ultrasounds, gestational diabetes blood draws, and many more.  Know that everything is your choice and you do not need to accept any test, especially without fully understanding the procedure, alternatives, risks, and benefits.  Many of these tests are not backed with logic, are not recommended routinely, and come with varying levels of inaccuracies.  Though testing may give us some reassurance, the results are only showing one small moment in time (and still may be inaccurate).  Ask yourself what you would do with the results of the test and how you would feel if their results were inaccurate, especially if this changed a significant decision about your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

29.    The love you will feel for all those that support you during your pregnancy, birth, and beyond is a special kind of love.  Those who experience the birth with you have a special opportunity for connection because of the hormones of labor.  Labor is powerful, and your birth team should not be chosen carelessly.  Dad, especially, will have a presence like no other.  Dads often wonder if they will be a good support system for mom, but knowing that their simple presence will mean more than anything he does.  The love you will have for one another grows exponentially during birth though birth experience can dictate to what level.  Choose your birth team wisely, and limit the setting to only those necessary and those that you feel comfortable with spending this intimate time.

Song of Solomon 1:2

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

30.    Some mothers choose to birth without a birth attendant present, and others may find themselves in a situation where they are birthing unassisted when it wasn’t planned.  In either scenario, keeping calm is prudent for mom and all those that may surround her.  Gregory White wrote a book titled “Emergency Childbirth” for just this scenario which is short, to the point, and excellent for all those that may come across this situation.  Though it doesn’t have the best suggestions for birth positions (as mom should follow her instincts), the emergency details are pertinent information.  Remember that no matter where you are, God is always with you. 

Psalm 121:2

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

31.    A biological birth (as God intended) is quite different from a birth with interventions.  The hormone levels, postpartum, breastfeeding, and beyond are all affected by what happens during our labor and birth.  Choosing to prepare for a biological birth is a perspective that one has to accept.  It isn’t something we try for, it is something we set our minds to do.  Yes, there are situations that may arise that you would choose medical attention and God has equipped us with the tools needed to work through any situation.  However, birth is empowering and we grow more spiritually when we experience the birth as close to biological as possible.

James 1:4

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

32.    Pregnancy and birth is quite a trial for many mothers.  It greets us with almost every emotion we will ever experience in amounts we can’t imagine.  It requires us to look deep within and search for our power and come out on the other side changed in more ways than one.  We are met with spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges around every corner, followed by one of the most significant events we’ll ever encounter in our life and it doesn’t stop there.  Being a new parent (whether this is your first, or you're adding to your family), you can be overwhelmed by thoughts and decisions.  Take joy in this blessing as every hill you climb over, that is one hill you’ve accomplished.  You CAN do this, your body was made for it.

James 1:2-3

2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

33.    The birth of Jesus is quite profound in many ways, but educational in the way we view birth.  No medical team in sight, no gadgets or bottles just in case.  Your baby needs you and nothing else.  They don’t need to be whisked away and separated to cry alone.  You nourished this baby for 10 months and will continue to nourish this baby and need nothing more than what you have right at hand.  No one knows your baby better than you, no matter how many babies they’ve held before.  Your heart speaks to this child and your smell is all they will yearn for – to be close to their mother’s milk.  Don’t ever forget that you don’t need to search for things to make your baby happy, because you have everything within.

Luke 2:12

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

34.    As we get close to our estimated birth times, we get antsy to meet our babies and may feel drained of energy and ready to move to the next stage.  You will enjoy this little one in less time than you think.  This is a time when induction sounds wonderful and interventions are tempting, but remember that spontaneous labor will provide you and your baby with countless benefits from health to happiness.  Your baby knows when he should be born, and it is often best to let him decide.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

35.    There are not a lot of detailed descriptions of birth in the Bible, but we find many versus that give us an insight into the birth practices of that time.  Exodus notes the use of a delivery stool which is a similar concept to some birthing stools used today, although not something seen in a hospital setting.  A birthing stool is low to the ground to facilitate squatting, and a hole in the center to allow the baby to pass through.  The use of upright positions encourages the baby’s decent and is safer than back lying positions for the mom and baby, though mothers should only use a stool if they feel inclined to do so (not because of a suggestion).

Exodus 1:16

And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live

36.    Be joyful and do not wish your pregnancies away.  The time will feel so fast once they are in your arms.  Cherish every moment, every hiccup, every ache and pain.  If we continue to wish for the next day we will not rejoice in the things to be grateful for today.  Take time to talk with God and he will bring you peace.

Romans 12:12

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

37.    Communication and respect throughout the perinatal stages is important to determine how the birth space will feel.  If those involved treat each other with kindness and compassion, mothers will be provided with better care, and all involved will enjoy the experience.  Remember when requesting or denying treatments, preparing your birth guide, and selecting your care provider that respectful communication is key.  Most involved, though they may not say or do the perfect thing at any moment, have well-meaning behind their actions

1 Corinthians 7:3

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

38.    Comparisons of nursing babies is innumerable in the Bible.  We can clearly see how breastmilk was used for far more than nourishment throughout history.  The love, nurturing, and calming effects breastmilk and nursing has on mothers and babies, and even the support system, is priceless.  There is not a day that breastmilk cannot be used in a positive manner – it doesn’t lose its nourishment, comforting abilities, or abilities to pass antibodies onto others.  The blessing of this ability is worth every effort to learn the art of breastfeeding.

1 Peter 2:2-3

2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious

39.    Labor lasts different lengths for every mother and every birth.  Although we may speculate how a birth may go, there is no definite way of predicting this and mothers need to stay healthy to keep their stamina for the long run.  Know that with God by your side, and listening to your body, you will be able to persevere throughout labor and birth.  He will provide you with the energy you need and the motivation you seek.

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

40.    As you close on the end of your pregnancy, you may feel like the only conversation you have is when you’ll have the baby even care providers may start talking about inductions without medical reasons.  Keep strong and remember patience is the most important trait of pregnancy and birth.  Your baby is developing, your hormones are changing, your stress levels need to be calmed – you and your baby need to be ready for this event and pushing it forward takes away from the time you need to prepare for your baby spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  Taking time for yourself to talk with God each day will bring you peace and allow you to overcome everyone’s anticipation of this special child.

James 1:4

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

41.    A mother experiencing a biological birth has an oxytocin (love hormone) surge higher than at any point in her life.  Oxytocin is crucial to bonding, love, as well as preventing complications postpartum.  Any length of natural labor will allow the oxytocin levels to increase, and mothers who have varying birth experiences will notice higher oxytocin levels after the birth the more they are unhindered.  This hormone gives mothers the intense love they have for their child and the will to protect them at all cost.  Breastfeeding increases oxytocin levels, as does any time spent focusing on another.  Just as it takes work to build your relationship with God, it takes work to build your relationship with your child.

Isaiah 49:15

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

42.    Circumcision surgery is no longer performed on the majority of males in the world.  TheWholeNetwork.org is an excellent resource for information on making the circumcision decision.  Likewise, the article at http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/biblical-circumcision-information.html outlines the history context of circumcision as it relates to the Bible, taking note that even among groups that practice circumcision for religious reason, the modern methods of circumcision (removing the foreskin) do not match the way circumcision was done many years ago in which the foreskin was only nicked.  Prior to the sacrifice of Jesus, circumcision was performed on the eighth day (the day in which newborns begin making their own vitamin K, a blood clotting agent).  However, as a Christian, circumcision is no longer performed as part of the covenant with God as Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Circumcision causes physical and emotional trauma, negatively affects breastfeeding, and has many side effects including reduced functioning, infection, hemorrhage, and death.

Galatians 5:3-6

3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

43.    Preparing for the future by working hard now is one of the most direct messages throughout the Bible.  Likewise, rest is important to replenish the soul and be able to do the tasks of tomorrow.  Postpartum is a mother’s time to rest from her hard work of pregnancy and birth.  She has spent the past year preparing for pregnancy, birth, and now she must learn to take care of this child as she heals and builds up her energy levels for the future years of parenting, and the early years full of important developmental milestones.  Prepare for your postpartum by storing meals, creating nourishing snacks and useful nursing stations, and solicit friends and family to help give you this needed rest by cooking, cleaning, and running errands.  This is the time when your community can help by creating a safe and comfortable place for you to lie down and get the hang of nursing your little one.

Genesis 2:2

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

44.    Your milk will mature within the first week after the birth and you will, above all, notice how comforting your breasts are for this new babe.  The little one that has spent the last 10 months having every need met before they even realized it was a need, now has to transition to a new environment and encourage you to learn their communication skills.  Pick up and nurse your baby often to ensure a good milk supply and don’t be afraid of spoiling your baby as they need you to respond to them.  They have many forms of communication, and crying is the last resort to get you to listen.  There will be a learning curve and you will have moments that don’t allow you to get to your baby immediately.  You may not understand those cues at first, but don’t worry, you will read your baby well in no time.  Simply letting them know you’re there to comfort them will do wonders, and there is no better way of comfort and nourishment then the bosom.

Isaiah 66:11

That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.

45.    You may notice an increase of energy in the first week following birth, especially after a natural birth.  Take care, though, and don’t overdo it.  Postpartum Depression peaks around 4-6 weeks after the birth and often this is due to moms overdoing it.  Many of us live in a culture where friends and family really don’t understand the needs of a new mother.   Even when a birth went wonderful, the for next months should be used for resting and breastfeeding.  A mom truly needs support to be with her little, heal, build back her blood supply, and nurse her little one.  If she is pushed too hard, her milk supply can be affected, her mood is affected, and her spirit gets weak.  It is common for friends and family to want to come play with the baby, but babies get over stimulated quite easy, and really want to be with their mom most, so keep this in mind when asking for help.  There are plenty of things to do around the house to help mom rest and feel relaxed.

Genesis 33:13

And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

46.    The Old Testament outlines the laws for cleansing after a birth and therefore we can clearly see that the birth and baby doesn’t signify the end of this stage, but another part of the process.  Nourishing your body with dark greens and a rainbow of nutrients will help create a healthy pregnancy and birth and prepare you for a healthy postpartum.  Your blood supply will increase by 50-60% over the course of your pregnancy to nourish yourself and your baby, as well as make up for any blood loss during the birth.  During your postpartum, you will have a flow of blood, similar to your menstrual cycle, that helps cleanse the uterus – this is called lochia.  It starts has a thick red discharge, and it is not uncommon to see clots of blood.  It will slowly taper off and by a few weeks postpartum will turn brown and then be clear.

Leviticus 12:1-5

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

47.    When Moses was found by the Pharoah, his sister asked if she needed someone to care for the baby, and Moses’ mother was able to nurse him and care for him – what an amazing feeling that must have been!
When mothers could not breastfeed, or when mothers chose not to breastfeed, they used a “wet nurse” – or another mother with milk that would breastfeed the baby.  Mothers are often more than happy to pump milk and connect with babies in need, or even nurse other little ones directly.  If you find that you need someone to help you nurse your baby, look in your own positive parenting communities and organizations such as Human Milk for Human  Babies and Eats on Feets. 

Exodus 2:9

And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.

48.    We see many descriptions in the Bible of how prominent breastfeeding was during biblical times.  It is used in countless ways to signify care, love, and nourishment.  Though there are not specific time frames given, many passages reflect that babies were not weaned before they were ready. The average age of weaning throughout the world today is between 3-7 years, though many developed countries have very low rates of breastfeeding.

When Hannah took her son Samuel to serve the Lord, she waited until he was weaned.  It is likely that Samuel was much more independent at weaning stage, not a baby or small toddler. 

1 Samuel 1:22

But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever.

49.    Although simply adding breastfeeding to your life is not a means of contraception, the Bible talks about what we now refer to as lactational amenorrhea (when ovulation is suppressed due to lactation).  When all nursing is done at the breast – for food and for comfort – breastfeeding can be used to naturally space your pregnancies.  Common spacing is approximately 2 years.  We have to keep in mind, however, that in biblical times, babies were not restricted on the length or amount they were allowed to breastfeed like they often are in modern times and mothers kept their babies close.

If your baby is less than 6 months old, your period has not returned, you keep your baby close, all nursing – for food and comfort – is done at the breast, you nurse at least once during the night, then breastfeeding is just as effective (over 98%) as modern methods of birth control (although safer and more effective).  After 6 months and with any changes to the method, the rate varies, but mothers can learn other signs their body provides for avoiding pregnancy.  A great start is reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Hosea 1:8

Now when she had weaned Lo–ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.

50.    Enjoy every moment as if it were your last.  When nights feel long, when the pressure of parenting seems overwhelming, know that this is such a short time and will pass before you know it.  Your little one’s smile, laugh, first word, first step, amazing personality – they are the bright moments that overshadow any difficulty.  That is God shining through telling you all the difficulties are worth it for the rewards.  Enjoy every moment, every blessing, with your new family.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.