Birthing Naturally Books

The Lord of Birth Pregnancy Bible Study

Love and Christian Childbirth

I've had several requests to elaborate on the Love chapter. Women have been kind enough to share with me concern that what they are hearing and what I am saying may not be the same. I want to thank these women for their courage to ask tough questions of me, and for their honesty in seeking the truth. Perhaps you have had some of the same questions:

  • Do you believe you can have a godly labor if you use pain medication?
  • Do you think using pain medication is sin?
  • Do you think using pain medication during labor means I don't love my child?

There is no easy answer to these questions. I do not believe there is one answer that fits every situation. I do not believe there is only one way for labor to always be handled.

As far as I can understand, God does not care so much how I give birth because the physical aspects of giving birth do not change eternity. Whether I use every intervention and have a cesarean surgery or have a homebirth alone with my husband does not matter in God's judgment of me. God does not judge by the outward appearance as men do, instead he judges the heart. I believe God's judgment of how I handle my life has less to do with what I do as it does with why I do it.

The Chocolate Cake Analogy

Imagine two people eating a big slice of chocolate cake. These two people are doing the same thing, eating a piece of cake. However, their hearts may be involved in the experience differently. The first person may be joyfully celebrating a birthday with a loved one, thanking God for the experience. The second may be eating a slice to indulge her greed and gluttony. The first person is enjoying a blessing from God, while the second is sinning - but they are doing the same thing. God does not judge the external, he looks at the heart.

It is the same with sexual intimacy. There is nothing wrong with sexual intimacy. It is a gift given by God in which two become one. It is a beautiful expression of love, and as a wife, I am actually commanded to make my body available to my husband. God is not opposed to sexual intimacy. However, outside of marriage sexual intimacy is a sin against my own body. The actions are the same, but in one instance I am enjoying a blessing of God and in the second I am indulging in lust. God does not judge by the external action, but by the heart.

When I am trying to judge my actions to keep them in line with God, I must always check my heart. I need to know what is going on, why I am making the decisions I am making.

Which leads us to the medication in labor questions. The first point to remember is medication, just like any other thing, is a tool. Tools can be used for good or for bad, to bring glory to god or to indulge in my sinful nature. The tool is neither evil nor good; sinful nor blessing. It is how I use that tool that makes my actions sinful or blessing.

Jesus tells us the greatest command is to love God, and the second is to love others. He is not talking about "feeling good" towards others. The love of the Bible is action, putting the good of others ahead of my own. It is the sacrificial and unconditional love that Christ models. So the standard of love for Christianity is to put the welfare of others first, and certainly before my wants.

Medication for labor has benefits and risks. There are risks for me and risks for my baby. Just as it would seem uncaring for me to put my wants ahead of my child's needs in such things as smoking, drinking, or using drugs during pregnancy, it should seem equally uncaring for me to put my wants ahead of my child's needs during labor. One of the keys here though is wants. There is a huge difference between a want and a need. It is in this difference that the use of a tool can be for blessing or to indulge a sinful nature.

In my opinion, and I fully understand the opinions of others may be different, deciding before labor begins that I am going to use medications that have risks for my baby because I do not want to feel pain shows a heart that is fulfilling my wants before meeting my baby's needs. It has been my experience that this attitude of the heart (not the physical action in labor) usually comes with other evidences of selfishness such as not taking time to learn about birth or techniques before deciding; seeking to end a normal healthy pregnancy early because mom does not want to be pregnant anymore; or ignoring basic guidelines for good health. Is this unloving toward the child? By my understanding of the Scriptural definition of love as putting others first, yes it is unloving.

There are some women who know ahead of time something is not within the range of normal and the tools of medications can help to lessen the risk to themselves and their babies. There are also women who will plan not to use medications as a tool in labor, but during labor it will become necessary to use medications to increase the safety. When this happens it can be disappointing to the mother, but because she lovingly puts the needs of her baby ahead of hers she chooses to go against her desire for a natural birth.

I would like to interject here that just as much as I believe the "give me drugs in the parking lot" attitude is sinful, I also believe there is a "I can do this without anything" attitude that is equally sinful. Remember, two women can be experiencing the same thing and have totally different hearts. While one labors without medication out of concern for her child, another may labor without medication out of pride or vain conceit, to obtain the praise of others or to prove someone else wrong. There is nothing inherently holy or righteous in giving birth without medication. It is faith in God that is credited as righteousness, a heart seeking to please God rather than pleasing itself.

There are women who will plan to labor without medication and during labor will feel overwhelmed and believe they cannot do it without medications. Again, medication is a tool that can be used to help, and it is only a tool. By itself pain medication is neither good or evil. It does have more risks than other ways of trying to help a laboring mother such as position changes, comfort measures and a doula. Even with its risks, medication remains a tool and it is not so much the use of it as the heart behind the use that makes the action either selfish or loving. God knows your heart, and he is the only one who can judge your actions because he is the only one who knows the "why" behind what you do.

Like I said in my book, there is no easy one answer fits all labors. I can not look at you and tell you what the "right" way for you to handle labor will be. The only thing I can tell you is to keep your focus on God and make your decisions based on what is best for the baby's needs first and mom's wants after.