My Way or the Highway Part 1: Natural Birth

July 29, 2008

The following post is Part One in a series called, My Way or the Highway. This series has a certain purpose which is described here. Today we will be looking at the subject of Natural Birth.

One of the most fiercely debated issues in Christian circles today is the choice to either have a natural birth (which comes in many different forms as well as processes) as opposed to using pain-relieving drugs during the labor process. The choice seems to center around the question that asks, “Is it morally permissible, and/or biblical, to use pain-relieving drugs during childbirth?”

Natural birth is a philosophy that women are naturally able to give birth to their child without any form of external intervention. Up until the 20th century most births in the history of the world were done at the mother’s home with nurses and midwifes, as well as family members, pitching in to help in the labor and delivery process.

By the 1940s, many women had moved their labor and delivery to the a local hospital where they would receive professional care. As technology improved so did pain medication.

Recently, there is a movement among Christians for their babies to born the “natural way.” The argument states that natural birth is the way that God has chosen to bring people into the world, so this is the proper and biblical way for all Christian women to deliver their children.

This view is faulty because the argument that natural birth is the way that God intended is not exactly correct.

In Genesis 3, God pronounced a curse upon Adam and the woman for their sin, as well as the Serpent who deceived them into sinning. God curses Adam and tells him that from now he when he works the ground he will sweat. He curses the serpent and says that from now on the serpent will slide along his belly on the ground and eat dust. He also curses the woman and says:

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

Therefore, God told the woman that she will now have labor pains and that she will seek to control her husband but will fail in doing so.

This curse brings to light that before sin was in the world, there was no pain.
Everything was still perfect so there were no labor pains for woman. God’s design, then, was that when a woman would give birth to a child the process would be literally painless. However, the woman’s sin brought a curse that would forever change the child-birthing process.

Therefore, it is not morally obligatory for Christian women to have natural births. In fact, as long as pain medication such as drugs and epidurals are safe I would suggest that women seek to ease the curse of childbearing if they so choose.

The fact that “natural childbirth” as we know it is the way to give birth that God intended is just not true. Yes, he did intend labor and delivery to be done without the help of drugs or mediation, but he also intended it to be painless. Childbirth is not painless anymore and, as in all suffering of life, if a Christian woman can ease the pain and suffering in a safe and ethical way then she should be free to do so.

Part 2 in this series will look at the subject of breastfeeding.

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