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Comment from a Reader

I received a comment from a reader on the Birthing Naturally Midwife Mentor Blog.  I moved it here to allow better discussion in a more appropriate forum.  Here is the comment I received.

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your reply a little while back to my comments about Eve’s curse and the Jackie Mize book etc. I wasn’t going to write again but I recently read the statistic that 1 in 13 women in Cameroon will die giving birth this year and I got thinking again. This fact and also the many women who suffer from the after effects of very difficult births, causes me to feel that this message could make all the difference to Christians who would be open to hear.

It’s not about bypassing medical aid, if even available, but providing an answer from God’s own Word which could prevent these difficulties from happening. God’s Word is always worth proving and it works as effectively in 3rd world countries as in the USA! (often more so, as the people are more supernaturally minded and also may have no other alternative).

To those with medical training, it would, no doubt, sound rather foolish – but 1Cor. 1 speaks about God who saves those who simply believe and that word ‘sozo’ encompasses healing, keeping safe, rescue from destruction etc. 1Tim.2:15 promises that women will be saved in childbearing but clearly many Christian women are not. ie they die or suffer some injury. It would seem that the ‘if’ aspect is lacking somewhere. There is to be faith-in God’s promises and Jesus work on the cross (including Gal.3:13) love –a greater knowledge of God’s love– which produces more trust, holiness- perhaps including a ‘setting apart’ of one’s body in childbirth into God’s hands and self control or a steady mind that, fixed on the Lord and his Word keeps anxieties and fears at bay (an important factor as Jackie Mize relates in her book).

Of course, many women may not be interested in all this but I feel sure that those who work with pregnant women of Christian faith, would find that some would be very ready to hear. If this is truly a freedom for women that Jesus has provided for us, the results would soon speak for themselves. I believe it could be, at least, another ‘string’ in the ‘bow’ for those such as yourself who have contact and influence with Christian women in this field.

Thanks for listening,

Julie

Thanks for writing Julie

I am so glad to hear that other Christian women are interested in issues such as maternal mortality in developing countries.  This is an issue very close to my heart. Learning about such high rates of poor outcomes was the first step in God’s calling for me to be part of the solution.  I still remember sitting in my car at a red light, tears streaming down my face, as I accepted the call to participate — I needed to attend nursing school and become a midwife.  It still gives me shivers when I recall that day.

Two things come to mind from your letter.

The first is that the problem for women in the developing world is not higher rates of complications, but fewer resources to deal with those complications. Poor countries are working to improve accessibility of emergency obstetric care, but the process is slow and involves not only the building of hospitals and clinics, but also training of health workers, development of supply chains for essential medicines, and sustainable funding mechanisms.  Infrastructure to ensure timely transfer to higher levels of care must be in proper working order, while both families and health care workers must be able to identify when higher levels of care are appropriate.

It is the existing health care infrastructure which prevents high rates of death in the industrialized, wealthy nations.  In fact, here in the United States our maternal mortality rate has increased as our risks for maternal mortality have increased. Rates of obesity and both chronic and pregnancy induced hypertension have increased in the United States as has the number of women giving birth after 40.  Each of these increases the risk for a poor outcome.  In a sense, you could say the US has the potential for more maternal deaths than poor countries because the baseline health status of our pregnant population is lower.  The fact that maternal death rates remain lower than countries with less infrastructure reflects the importance of a functioning healthcare infrastructure. There is also evidence to suggest further reductions in maternal  and neonatal mortality and morbidity in the US can happen if systematic changes in the healthcare system are put into place, such as elimination of elective induction prior to 39 or 40 weeks.

The second thought is  the concept that stronger faith will lead to less complications in pregnancy requires some assumptions that I do not believe are Biblically supported. While I do believe the Bible supports the concept that a strong faith helps you weather the challenges of life, I don’t see evidence the elimination of challenges (problems) is to be an expected outcome. Some examples that lead me to this conclusion are the stories of Job, Daniel, and Paul.  Where problems were eliminated, such as Jesus healing individuals, the Bible makes clear the event was a special situation. The events in the Garden of Gethsemane and the crucifixion demonstrate that even Jesus was not able to avoid challenging and difficult situations. Jesus went willingly to the cross because he desired to do the will of God, but that did not make the experience in any way less difficult or unpleasant.

I hope that gives you some more information to chew on as you form your plan of how to follow this call God has given you, and I am excited to see where God leads you as your heart for pregnant women grows.

Jennifer

 

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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