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In Maryam’s Footsteps: Preparing for Natural Childbirth

by in Lifestyle on 10th September, 2019

As I fiddle with the keyboard, I begin to recall the first rush of adrenaline I experienced the very day I saw the ‘show’ indicating the start of labour. At that moment, I knew my life was going to change forever. Was I prepared for motherhood? Was I prepared to go through the daunting process of having a baby? A lot of questions ran through my mind all at the same time. But in the end, I realized that forbearance and gratitude was the least I could do as I began this journey to bringing yet another beautiful creature into this world. The months before had found me deeply buried into a library I had never explored. I read only books about pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and every other related subject. I was bombarded with a lot of myths, contrasting advices, confusing tips and what have you. I wanted to make a choice that would be best for me and my unborn child and when it became so overwhelming, I decided to look into what could possibly be my role as a Muslim woman preparing for childbirth and that led me to looking out for inspiration in Islamic history.


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On this journey, I came across Maryam bint Imran; a woman of piety whose life was dedicated to the service of Allah by her mother and was well known for her extraordinary acts of worship, dedication and forbearance.

Maryam bint Imran was quite shocked when she got the news of her pregnancy – especially as a virgin. However, she accepted it in gratitude, patience and good faith.

{He said “I am only the messenger of your lord to give you the gift of a pure son.” She said “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, and I was never unchaste?” He said “Thus said your lord, ‘It is easy for me, and we will make him a sign for humanity, and a mercy from us. It is a matter already decided.” So she carried him, and secluded herself with him in a remote place. The labour pains came upon her, by the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “I wish I had died before this, and been completely forgotten.” Whereupon he called her from beneath her: “Do not worry; Your Lord has placed a stream beneath you. And shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you, and it will drop ripe dates by you.” “So eat and drink and be consoled. And if you see any human, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to the most gracious, so I will not speak to any human today.”} [Surah Maryam’, 19: 19 – 26]

Reading about the story of Maryam gave me a clear guide as to what I wanted and what to expect and it became so easy for me to not only draw out my birth plans but also approach labour with so much enthusiasm and vigor. Here are a few facts and lessons gathered from the story of Maryam’s birthing experience.

  1. Maryam was well nourished during her pregnancy. She ate all forms of natural foods provided to her by Allah.
  2. Maryam had little or no external intervention during pregnancy as she secluded herself while supplicating to her lord and eventually delivering her baby all by herself.
  3. She also had a very active birth, moving around, squatting and standing as she grabbed the trunk of the palm tree under which she had her baby.
  4. Maryam ate and drank during the process of her labour as opposed to the modern practice of not eating and drinking during the birthing process.
  5. Maryam’s labour became so painful that it came to a point where she exclaimed that she wished she had died and had been long forgotten. This teaches us that the birthing process is indeed one with great pains and challenges which every woman’s body is naturally prepared for.

After drawing so much inspiration from the story of Maryam bint Imran and going through the most challenging natural birth myself, I have put together the following activity list to ensure a smooth and safe natural birth for every Muslim woman willing to follow in Maryam’s footsteps:

PRE-NATAL EDUCATION

Whether you attend classes, read books or watch videos on how natural labour and birth work. Find out about various techniques to effectively manage natural labour pains ranging from breathing, relaxation, meditation, massage and other mechanisms. Discuss your options with those you would want with you during the childbirth process.

COMMUNICATE WHAT YOU WANT TO THOSE INVOLVED

The person(s) involved in your birthing process must be on the same page with you and this begins with communication. As the mother of the child, you have every right to be involved in every decision that affects the birth of your child. So make sure you resolve this before going into labour and it is reflected in your borth plan as well as the birth partner. Appoint a doula, midwife or certified healthcare provider who knows everything about your birth plan and is ready to take the journey with you.MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT

MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT

Managing your weight through pregnancy can help in natural labour and birth, it can support less intervention. Moderate your food portions, eat lots of fruits, fibre and vegetables, exercise regularly and take daily walks. This will keep you in good shape towards the big day.PREPARE NATURAL HOME REMEDIES

PREPARE NATURAL HOME REMEDIES

Put together a pack of natural home remedies that will strengthen you towards your big day. Eat lots of dates as it has been found to shorten the labour process while providing extra calories to aid exhausting labour. Drink and massage your body with coconut oil as it helps in skin elasticity, making it easy for the cervix to expand during labour. Regularly massage your perineum with almond oil as it reduces the chances of having tears or having an episiotomy. Drinking red raspberry leaf tea regularly during the third trimester strengthens the uterus and increases contractions, making labour faster and easier. Royal Jelly increases the elasticity of the skin, helping to prepare the mother for birth and encourage a smooth delivery by balancing hormones and feeding the placenta. These are just a few of the many natural home remedies that will make that journey less stressful.

PUSH FOR LESS INTERVENTION

Looking at Maryams labour it was clear to see that there was little intervention. If you have a healthy pregnancy there is no reason to why you cannot push for a intervention free labour. Listen to your body and do trust yourself to navigate labour and pregnancy, so if you want to opt in or out of things, make this clear. However, if your doctor or midwife gives you a compelling reason to go through those tests and procedures, then trust yourself then too. Every labour is different and whats also important to remember is to trust in Allah.

SPEND EARLY LABOUR AT HOME

Some women who opt for natural birthing choose to do it in the comfort of their homes, if a home birth isn’t an option then spending the major part of your labour at home my help you fell relaxed. Ease labour pains by relaxing under homoeopathic water, using a shower, bath tub, pool and what have you, spending as much time as possible in a familiar environment. Make use of your prenatal education by breathing, meditating, relaxing, getting a massage, moving around, changing positions while even listening to the Qur’an and supplicating. Eat and drink in the process. Continue to do these until your contractions are consistently less than five minutes apart. If however, you find out that you’re not very far dilated, then you should continue the process at home. This will ensure a smoother natural childbirth with very minimal intervention In sha Allah.

PRACTICE VARIOUS LABOUR POSITIONS

Be dynamic in your labour activities. Dilation tends to occur more quickly when different labour positions are explored. Slow dancing with your partner by wrapping your arms around his waist or neck, squatting against a wall or between your birth partner’s legs while he or she is sitting, raising one foot onto a chair and leaning forward, Rocking gently while sitting on a chair or a birthing ball, getting on all fours on the bed, floor or on a mat, leaning forward while standing to mention but a few. Find out beforehand about various labor positions that will be suitable for you. This will make your birthing process quicker and smoother.

MAKE DU’A

This is the most important of all. While making personal efforts towards having a smooth and safe delivery, have it at the back of your mind that only Allah can make it easy for you. So call upon him and bi idhniLlah, He will surely respond.

Wardah Abbas

Wardah Abbas

Wardah Abbas is a lawyer turned full-time writer. She has been published in various magazines, online media platforms and anthologies. She is particularly passionate about women’s liberation and dismantling the global patriarchy and is currently co-working on a book on human rights for Muslim women. When she is not running around with her two-year-old toddler, taking online coding classes on Pluralsight or bleeding out honest words on Medium, She can be found struggling to meet’s a client’s deadline on a writing assignment. Catch up with her on twitter @Wardah_abbas or Medium @Wardahabbas