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A calm and painless birth

From the December 2017 issue of The Christian Science Journal

I was expecting my second baby and was determined that this birth would be a better experience than my first, which had been difficult and long. I have to say that even though I considered myself a Christian Scientist, I had not given myself the thorough Christian Science treatment required to rely on this method of healing. So this time, I contacted a Christian Science practitioner for help.  

As we talked, I told him my fears and concerns about the previous birth. He suggested that a deep sense of calm, if it is rooted in an understanding of where peace comes from, handles pain. We understood peace to come from God and that God was all-good Spirit. So I decided to spend the next several months understanding this spiritual calm. What did the concept really mean? Did I have to wait for some sort of emergency to be calm? If not, how could I bring a greater sense of spiritual calm into my life even before the birth? 

I began by making a list of qualities of calm. In the beginning I thought there was a lot about calm that I did not admire. I thought being calm was doing nothing. I was a go-getter who admired energy and vivaciousness. But as I began studying what it really meant, a whole new view of calm appeared that included peace, harmony, and tranquility. 

I began to appreciate a quiet sense of calm in others and saw that a calm reserve was a good quality that allowed someone to think before speaking and to be considerate of others. I also started being able to express these qualities in my own life. Sometimes that would mean finding time to be still after a long day at work and embrace the quiet. I had never been able to enjoy a quiet calm before this.

I also decided to take birth classes that were offered by my midwife to prepare. During the first pregnancy, I chose not to take them because I was afraid that the classes would talk a lot about frightening medical aspects of birth. But this time, I decided to take all the classes and to handle my fears by considering spiritual ideas that brought me peace about the information given to me. 

For example, I studied a poem by Mary Baker Eddy that explained God to be the source of our life and sustenance, which helped alleviate worries about what to eat: “Fed by Thy love divine we live, / For Love alone is Life” (Poems, p. 8). 

Similarly, during the class on breathing, I thought of how the peace that comes from God could speak through the pain, or “earthquake, wind and fire” that’s written about in Hymn No. 49 in the Hymnal:

Breathe through the pulses of desire 
   Thy coolness and Thy balm; 
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; 
Speak through the earthquake, wind 
   and fire, 
O still small voice of calm. 

(John Greenleaf Whittier)

During the exercise class, I also prayed to see that I already expressed flexibility, openness, and endurance—qualities of God that are mine because I reflect Him, which is the truth of creation given in the first chapter of Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible.

In addition to preparing for the birth in this way, there were a few other fears I had to face, too. First, the fear of emergency. What if something terrible went wrong during labor and I couldn’t get to the midwife on time? I lived 45 minutes away from my midwife’s clinic and wondered if my husband and I would have to deliver the baby ourselves. I conquered these fears by praying to understand my oneness with God. 

Because God is ever present, “the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587), I knew I couldn’t be in better hands than those of God. I calmed down and stopped worrying about an emergency when I realized that, as God’s expression, I could never be far from Him.

I then needed to handle my fear of pain. During the first birth, I was in labor for two days. Instead of a home birth, which I had originally planned, I ended up in the hospital. I had been so absorbed by the pain that I had felt chaotic and out of control. 

To overcome these fears, I reminded myself of those qualities of peace I had begun to cherish. My study of Christian Science had shown me that pain is the hypnotism of mortal mind—the concept that we are made materially. The understanding that God is the only Mind, who created us spiritually and knows only good, meant that there is no mortal mind to hypnotize or create pain. Recognizing this freed me from the hypnotic sense that pain was inevitable.

As I handled some of the more obvious fears, others began to emerge. Because I had been unable to keep with my original plan of a home birth before, I had to admit that I had to handle the fear of failure. 

This line from a favorite article in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 written by Mary Baker Eddy tenderly lifted me out of that fear: “… divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort” (p. 307). It was so comforting to know that omnipresent Love gives the sweet assurance of peace that handles suffering and pain.

The last fear I felt I needed to handle was the prevailing thought that childbirth is a material and painful process. Even those who were wonderfully supportive and respectful of me, like my midwife, believed pain to be an inevitable part of the process.

So I handled the last fear with this truth explained in Science and Health: “Divine Mind is the only cause or Principle of existence. Cause does not exist in matter, in mortal mind, or in physical forms” (p. 262). I followed that truth with this one: “A logical and scientific conclusion is reached only through the knowledge that there are not two bases of being, matter and mind, but one alone,—Mind” (p. 279).

During every checkup leading up to the birth, the baby was in a posterior position. This meant he was facing the wrong way. This type of positioning was known to be especially painful to the mother. I had prayed continually about this issue and was inspired by this citation: “Mind is the source of all movement, and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action” (Science and Health, p. 283). 

I found it helpful to look up these words. Inertia: tendency to remain in a fixed position unchanged; disinclination to move or act. Retard: delay, slow the advance or progress. Check: to hold back. I decided I needed to surrender all to the divine Mind, the source of all movement, in order for my baby to be in the right position. 

When the day came for my baby to be born, I had arranged for my midwife to come to my home for a home birth. I did not feel any worry about getting to her or her getting to me. When my water broke, my husband started sharing the ideas I had been praying with throughout the pregnancy, and this helped to keep my thought clear regarding these truths. 

At my first contraction, we were astounded to see the movement that took place. The baby had completely flipped and was now in the correct position for birth. In just four short hours my son was born. After he had flipped during that first contraction, I felt absolutely no pain. When he arrived, I was so impressed by the experience that I wanted to stand on a chair and shout to the world, “God is so good!” I am so grateful for this healing and want to share it with the world!

Karen McMullen
Highland Village, Texas, US

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