Womb to World – Maximizing Your Chance For A Positive Birth Experience
Rahmah; Mercy. The holy month of Ramadhan is a beautiful example of the concept of mercy.
But there is also another Arabic word which is closely linked to the word Rahmah. It is the Arabic word Raham, which translates in English as ‘womb’. Why did Allah subhana wa ta’ala connect the two words, Mercy (Rahmah) and Womb (Raham) in origin?
It is because a mother’s womb beautifully exemplified the concept of mercy. The child inside the womb is protected, nurtured and loved without even seeing the mother. This analogy is similar to Allah’s love for His creation, Subhan’Allah!
Out of the mercy and wisdom of Allah swt, He has provided us nine months to prepare for the birth of a child. So how can we maximize this time wisely to prepare for an empowering birth?
We do not need to look far to find the secrets to an empowering birth. Allah swt intentionally mentions Maryam’s (AS) birthing journey in the Qur’an.
“So she carried him, and secluded herself with him in a remote place. The labor pains came upon her, by the trunk of a palm tree.
She said, “I wish I had died before this, and been completely forgotten.”
Whereupon He called her from beneath her:
“Do not worry; Your Lord has placed a stream beneath you. And shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, and it will drop ripe dates by you.”
“So eat and drink and be consoled. And if you see any human, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to the most gracious, so I will not speak to any human today.”
What can we learn from this?
Maryam (AS) was instructed by Allah to ‘shake’ the trunk of the palm tree. This depicts an upright position when laboring. Studies have shown that staying upright during labor can help it to progress much more quickly, as gravity is working with you.
It also encourages your pelvis to open as seen in MRI studies compared to back lying positions, and can also relieve back pain. Thus, leading to maternal satisfaction and contributing to a positive birth experience.
Allah swt also encouraged Maryam (AS) to be courageous and active in shaking the tree to allow the dates to be consumed. We can conclude that effort will be required during labor.
Effort and tawakkul in Allah swt will yield positive outcomes, insh’Allah!
The energy that birthing takes is similar to running a marathon (yes, a full one!). Dates store high energy in the body and have been the only proven food that has shown to ripen the cervix, shorten labor, and have also contributed in preventing postpartum hemorrhaging.
Consumption of nutritious food during pregnancy is vital in keeping your strength and stamina during labor.
Maryam (AS) carried herself to a remote and secluded place away from prying eyes. Privacy is important for a woman in labor. This means not being disturbed, being protected, and feeling safe as labor progresses. If this isn’t the case, fear can cause stress hormones to be released, moving her into a fight or flight mindset, which will ultimately increase her pain and shut or stall her labor progress.
Unfortunately, in our society today, we have a wrong and dangerous narrative that birth is an emergency and our body may fail to give birth, therefore we invite unnecessary interventions. Most women are able to give birth without medical interventions, and they are only usually needed in rare situations. Therefore, choose family members and professionals who will listen, watch and patiently encourage natural labor progression, without disturbing your need for privacy.
Allah swt advised Maryam (AS) to use the flowing stream to aid her while she welcomed the surges of birth.
Consider water birth options as it creates a safe bubble, adding privacy to your birthing journey and ensures you are in an upright position. This natural pain relief is also a gentle transition for the baby as they are emerging from water in the womb to water earth side!
Mental Preparation and Education
Much of a woman’s birthing experience is breaking the mental barriers that she has unconsciously allowed to seep into her mind. We need to go back to the basics, and that is that you are here because birth works. Because Alalh swt has perfectly designed a woman’s body to give birth.
Birth is a natural life event and not an illness that requires us to be saved from. When we learn to lean into the sensations of birth and don’t try to numb or avoid it, we are submitting only to Allah swt, and not the doctors and their interventions when used unnecessarily. By exercising tawakkul in Allah, our birth experience becomes empowering and an act of worship.
What is one of the main causes of trauma in birth?
It is when a woman looks back and realizes she gave away her control and ability to make decisions about what happened to her body.
This is why it is vital to educate yourself prior to giving birth on how your body works during birth so you can work with and not against your body, and make informed decisions, as your birth choices are parenting choices that will stay with you.
So do not take birth lying down. Protect and defend the power Allah swt has gifted your body with. Nourish yourself physically and mentally.
Guard your birthing environment by choosing those who will add to your comfort. Believe that giving birth will be your greatest achievement and not your greatest fear. And remember, that it is the mother (Umm) who builds the Ummah (Nation).
May we be granted with an empowering birth that will assist in nurturing strong children for the Ummah, Ameen!