Reviewed by Dr Kristen Dang
3 MINUTE READ
Don’t forget the mother!
The excitement of celebrating a coming newborn baby may thrust the momentous birth of a mother into the background.
In Bringing Forth Life: God’s Purposes in Pregnancy and Birth, midwife and mother, Jodie McIver, shines light on the vulnerabilities, joys and different experiences we may have through motherhood and pregnancy. Combining spiritual, natural, emotional and medical aspects, McIver presents the journey into motherhood in a personal, educational and hope-filled way.
The book opens with a personal testimony from McIver. She shares her experiences of observing childbirth, and her revelation of its spiritual significance.
The subsequent chapters then explore womanhood, pregnancy and birth, motherhood and building a family. Educational information, including anatomical diagrams, are interspersed with brief insights into the different pregnancy, birth and motherhood experiences of various women. Each chapter ends with a series of questions, a prayer and resources which encourages self-reflection, faith and further discussion.
Purpose in everything
I was particularly encouraged by the way McIver drew everything back to purpose and identity. There are so many parts of pregnancy and parenthood that seem unseen, confusing and challenging, but McIver reminds us that none of this is in vain. Through it all, we are bringing forth life in the child we grow and raise, and we ourselves have the opportunity to reflect on what is and is not life-giving for us.
The first part of the book dives into the very core of our being. It is a reminder that we are made in the image of the life-giving God who physically created us, and spiritually saved us. In light of this, McIver further expands on the privilege of womanhood and the unique opportunity we, as women, have to “bring forth a new little life, in the footsteps of the one who gave [us] life.” It is empowering to step into our identity as daughters of God.
Many options, many ways
McIver bravely and gently addresses sensitive issues throughout the pregnancy and parenthood journey. She walks us through the inevitability of a changing body shape and its effect on self-image, a review of social supports, pre-natal screening options, the role of pregnancy caregivers, difficulties with baby feeding and the importance of self-care. She encourages, empowers and challenges us to discover what choices we and our loved ones might make, and gives a number of examples to help us visualise possible scenarios.
I remember being overwhelmed by the cacophony of opinions as a first-time mum, trying to do everything suggested to me, and unsure of whether it was or was not appropriate to share some of my struggles and birthing experiences.
While it may not be possible to fully prepare for what lies ahead, Bringing Forth Life does give an excellent starting point, and the end-of-chapter questions often include opportunities to involve members of the wider “village” in this preparation as well.
Faith, not fear
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood have many unseen and unknown moments, but McIver’s book is a companion to these.
Throughout my reading, I felt there was a strong sense of hope and encouragement to have faith and not fear. The prayers at the end of each chapter embody this faith and were a beautiful reminder to give everything to God.
In the uncertainty of screening tests and ultrasounds, we can have faith that God knows and cares. In the sleepless, repetitive cycles of newborn care, we can have faith that God sees and gives strength. In the ebb and flow of changing emotions and perspectives, we can have faith in God who is our rock and salvation.
Pregnancy and parenthood mark distinct chapters in our lives, and often come with great changes, both physically and emotionally. McIver’s Bringing Forth Life gives us a base to prepare for this journey and share it with loved ones, while also reminding us that God is faithful throughout.
Dr Kristen Dang
Dr Kristen Dang is a family doctor who lives with her husband and two young children in South Australia. She enjoys the adventure of raising little people, and the joy of watching them experience the world.