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Volume 10, Issue 3: Femina

Midwifery

Nancy Wilson

He will. . . gently lead those who are with young.
Isaiah 40:11
As I sit at my desk to write, my sweet new grandson sleeps very contentedly a few feet away. God sent him into the world just a few weeks ago, and yet it seems we've known and loved him much longer.
A Christian brother and physician delivered Knox on May 25. A few days later, when Knox's little heart was racing, he delivered him again; this time with the assistance of another Christian brother-my own brother-who is a pediatric cardiologist. Now, thanks to the kindness and mercy of God through the care and expertise of these men, little Knox rests quietly, and his heart problem has been diagnosed and is being treated.
As I watched my daughter's son being born, I marveled at the wonder of birth and simultaneously marveled at the mercy of God shown us through technology. My husband always said he wanted our babies born with as many machines with blinking lights around as possible. But (thanks be to God), we never needed those machines with the blinking lights. But our grandson did.
Today a growing number of Christians have become fed up with modern medicine. Many in this number are physicians themselves, looking for alternatives to the bureaucracy and expense, and sick of the God-hating philosophy so pervasive in the system. And Christian women, who have so much at stake in the whole area of childbirth, develop strong opinions about care during pregnancy, how children should be born, and how they should be fed and cared for.
Among many Christians, midwifery has become an alternative, and for many good reasons. Twenty-five years ago, husbands weren't allowed in the delivery room, drugs were routinely given for pain, babies were separated from their mothers, breastfeeding was not encouraged, and c-sections were too common. And on top of all that, the bills grew to be monstrous. So, many women opted out of the system, both Christians and non-Christians, and they can't be blamed, especially since many Christians today want large families.
But what is my point? Just like so many things in the Christian life that have to do with family decisions, we must all get along. Those who use midwives must not judge those who do not and vice versa. Those who prefer the blinking lights must not talk as though women who use midwives are necessarily being irresponsible. If they truly are being irresponsible (taking huge risks that they know about), then the sister concerned should be spoken to, not about. And those women who use midwives must not run down their sisters for going the hospital routeas though this were some kind of "compromise." This is another one of those issues that we must "bear with one another" in and not squabble about.
Whenever someone gets a bee in her bonnet and starts promoting her "method," beware. At worst, this can cause real division. At best, it can cause hurt feelings. These sorts of decisions are family decisions, and not the business of the church . . . or church ladies. We must resist any movement, be it in the midwife or hospital direction, that promotes itself as "more spiritual" or the "truly Christian" way.
Scripture does not forbid women to go to male doctors. Though the Bible does command Christian women to dress and behave modestly, it does not address the case of being examined by a physician. The woman in Luke 8 with the issue of blood had spent much money on incompetent doctors; however, she is not condemned for going to male physicans for a menstrual problem. While male doctors are not forbidden, some Christian women would prefer a competent Christian woman. And that means advanced education for our daughters, which should be encouraged.
Ideally, a Christian woman should go to a Christian physician, whether the doctor is male or female. Women should be concerned about whether the physician is respectable and behaves in a considerate, appropriate manner. Going to a doctor who does abortions should be out of the question.
Neither does Scripture forbid women from using midwives (**need refs**). But women must be just as selective when choosing a midwife as a doctor. Just the name "midwife" is not enough any more than a M.D. after a name is enough when selecting a physician. Is she a Christian? How many babies has she delivered? What is her reputation? How close are you to the blinking lights if something does go radically wrong? Is she hostile or friendly to medical backup? What is her training?
Many women can thank the Lord that their babies are born very simply and with no complications. I have one friend who delivered her eighth and last child by herself! It seems women like this are ideally suited for homebirths. But we all know women or their babies who needed exceptional care either during birth or shortly after. The point is, one size does not fit all. We all have different circumstances and our own preferences. Like I said above, our household was committed to the hospital approach. Others feel very strongly about homebirths.
We need to honor God in all our decisions, but the decisions we make as families should be honored by all in the Christian community, even if we disagree with them. This is simply graciousness. We should pray that God will raise up godly men and women to be physicians in our communities. And we should pray that God will raise up godly midwives who can work alongside them, not in competition with them. Our children and our children's children are given to us as a blessing from God. And, thank God, He gently leads those with young.

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