Lisa McMinn’s book takes an interesting turn in Chapter 4, which is titled, “Birthing Babies: The Essence of Early Motherhood (and Fatherhood).” It is interesting, in part, because (to me, anyway) it was somewhat unexpected as a chapter topic. The opening quote by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy seems to get at why McMinn includes it: “Sexuality has always been studied separately from maternity, as if sex has nothing to do with maternity or keeping infants alive.”
In any case, McMinn provides a “brief history of birthing babies” in which she concludes that what is quite different about birthing babies today than in other times throughout history is that women used to help women in the process and that women gave birth at home. She recognizes the benefits associated with medicalization of childbirth, but wants to also draw attention to the drawbacks. She then offers a Christian perspective:
The Church expands a vision for an enfleshed, or embodied spiritual life by re-examining patterns and beliefs about childbearing, seeking avenues for fostering connection between a woman’s physical experience as she participates with God in the deeply spiritual task of creating and sustaining life. (p. 104)
There is a lot of other ground covered in the chapter. Lisa McMinn writes about the role of culture on how we view motherhood and fatherhood, issues related to attachment theory, and some of the debates related to family planning and later roles and responsibilities of motherhood, as well as infertility and adoption.
For reflection: (from the end of the chapter) What are your general perspectives and thoughts about pregnancy and childbearing? From where did these ideas come? How important is it to you to have biological children? What do you think about stay-at-home dads? Can you imagine having your church sponsor childbirth classes?