by Fudia Muhammad
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21 NIV).
No right-minded person willingly and eagerly seeks out pain and discomfort. However, it is a fact of life that none of us can escape. To live, is to struggle and experience pain – this is part of our growth and development ordained by Allah (God), for our benefit. Sometimes the pain exists on the mental or spiritual plane; and other times the pain is undeniably physical – such is the pain of birth. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that the pain of birth is equal to the pain of death. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that this means, “every time mom has a baby, she dies a little to give life.” These two statements are understandably enough to make any woman welcome a way to circumvent the natural process and find an alternative to avoid this degree of pain. This provides an opening for wicked manipulators in the health and pharmaceutical industries to take full advantage, by systematically guiding women away from what is natural.
Childbirth is natural – just as death is natural. The fact that we now have to qualify the “type” of birth lets us know that we have moved from what is natural into what is normal. The techno-medical model of birth is the new norm and Cesarean sections or C-sections (delivery by surgically cutting the abdomen) are a strong second – leaving natural childbirth for the so-called kooky and eccentric. Natural childbirth is comprised of two fundamental features: (1) a non-invasive vaginal birth and (2) little to no medical intervention, including medication. The disturbing new normal in U.S. obstetrics is that only about 8% of deliveries meet this definition of natural childbirth. Whereas, 32% of deliveries are now by C-section and 60% of women opt for an epidural and spinal anesthesia for pain relief during vaginal deliveries (CDC). These numbers are staggering, particularly when you consider that in 1965 the U.S. C-section birth rate was only 4.5% and epidurals only became a common labor and delivery practice in the 1980s. An epidural is a powerful anesthesia that comes with consequences. Medical professionals know that any medication administered during labor will enter the bloodstream and will reach the baby – regardless to the percentage, no amount is good.
Today, it is nearly impossible to witness a hospital labor and delivery that does not include one or more of the following: an epidural, forceps, a vacuum, an episiotomy (a surgical cut to enlarge the vaginal opening), intravenous needles and tubes, fetal monitors, administration of Pitocin (drug used to induce labor), a catheter, amniotic hook, etc. Childbirth is treated like an illness or medical trauma, rather than a natural occurrence. And if the delivery is by C-section, we can include a host of other supplies, equipment and procedures. Though C-sections are one of the most common major surgeries in the U.S.; it is still major surgery and therefore includes all of the dangerous possible complications that come with any major surgery.
There are certainly valid reasons that would require a mother to have to rely on a C-section in order to delivery her baby safely. We are not opposed to medical advancements and are grateful that there are options for mothers who have high risk pregnancies due to medical complications or physical disabilities. We also recognize that unforeseen crises can arise during labor that would require an emergency C-section. If only C-sections were reserved for the aforementioned circumstances, we could return to a 4.5% rate.
Taking the Hippocratic Oath is required by medical students in most medical schools. The Oath is very noble and the practice of healing is a noble profession. But the Oath is now just a theory that has been nullified by the lack of diligent application to uphold its intent. According to the Hippocratic Oath, doctors should avoid overtreatment; they should be conscious that a patient’s illness may affect their economic stability; they should bear witness that prevention is preferred over cure; they should be mindful that there is an art to medicine; and they are not to play God! Hmm. If obedience to the Oath were the standard, what grade does the U.S. healthcare industry deserve?
Prevention and healing in the healthcare industry has been replaced with a corporate model that now boasts a profit of billions of dollars (annually). Contrary to God’s way, things that are natural like childbirth and the burial of our deceased have exorbitant fees. According to Kaiser Health News (KHN), “A surgical birth can bring in twice the revenue of a vaginal delivery.” KHN reports that obstetricians are not above pressuring women to preschedule a C-section; encouraging inductions that increase the likelihood of a C-section; or inventing emergencies. All of this constitutes medical malpractice. Today, it is dangerous for women to put their complete faith in their physicians.
So try to avoid C-sections. We want to be in control of our body during birth. I witnessed the C-section of a very close relative and will never forget it. Unfortunately I saw much more than I was supposed to. The process was very violent: The doctor had to literally saw through layers of flesh, which caused the bed to rock back and forth. I could hear the sound of skin and flesh tearing. It was brutal. The Caucasian doctor reminded me of the slave-master barbarically slicing open the womb of a pregnant Black woman, then ripping out her baby. My nerves were only quelled by the sight of a beautiful baby boy.
It is difficult to be restored completely after a C-section. The immediate recovery is longer and more difficult than a vaginal birth; and we need endurance to care for our newborn. Not to mention that the heavy pain medications required after surgery will affect the chemistry of our breastmilk.
Why is natural childbirth so critical? Anytime we partake of anything unnatural, there are consequences. Electing to determine when your child will be born through a planned C-section may now be normal, but it certainly isn’t natural. The Holy Qur’an reads, “Allah knows what every female bears, and that of which the wombs fall short of completion and that which they grow. And everything with Him has a measure” (13:8). It also states, “And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers – you knew nothing – and He gave you hearing and sight and hearts that you might give thanks” (16:78). Allah (God) knows our condition, it is all measured (calculated). Based on His science and mathematics, if He sees fit, He will determine when our babies come forth.
Yes, natural labor and delivery is painful. But the pain of childbirth is a natural pain – it is NOT a punishment for the transgressions of Eve. The pain is so intense that many analogies are given throughout the scriptures that compare the chastisement of God to the pain of childbirth. The Holy Qur’an describes the experience of birth as “faintings upon faintings.” Even the Mother of Jesus was stunned by the throes of childbirth and wished for death rather than to endure the pain. But look at what she produced!
To every physical law, there is a spiritual counterpart. The baby receives a spiritual impression by physically travelling through the birth canal. This process is not only painful for the mother, but for the baby as well. It is Allah (God) who determined that the head will physically forge the way to freedom for the body; just as the mind spiritually exercises control over our lower desires. All of our life experiences, whether conscious or subconscious, are recorded in our memory banks. We do not want to deny our children the natural struggle, ordained by Allah (God), which sets them up with their first foundational victory.
After difficulty comes ease. So remember the opening scripture to this article. The difficulty of childbirth is immediately rewarded with a beautiful new life. The intensity of the emotions we experience in that moment are so overwhelming that we forget the pain. This is because Allah (God), in His Mercy, never gives us more than we can handle.
[In subsequent articles, we will highlight the resurgence of midwives and doulas, who provide a wonderful natural alternative for childbirth.]
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)