Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman’s Soul (Kirkdale Press, 2016)
When a woman discovers that she will become a mother, she often senses that from the moment of conception all the way through parenting, every aspect of mothering matters. But for the Christian, there may be a lack of vocabulary with which to describe this incredibly formative and life-altering time.
In general, the Church has little to say to women to prepare them for childbirth. While women can bring their medical concerns to trained caregivers, to whom should expectant mothers go with their fears, their desire to honor God in birth, and their questions of how to view a God who created childbirth this way? While resources abound on biblical parenting, there are virtually no resources for Christian women who want to explore the significance of childbirth through a biblical lens. Instead, they must turn to New Age birth experts, who may have sound birthing advice but also encourage women to tap into their inner birth goddess, form a cosmic union with the universe, and trust their bodies and intuition (which are fallen and not always worthy of trust!).
Does the Bible have nothing to say about facing fear, suffering for the sake of bringing someone life, finding purpose in pain, experiencing peace, or childbirth in general? How then should Christians view birth?
Childbirth engages the entire mind, body, and heart in a way no other experience does, and it can indeed be a significant spiritual experience that reflects God, honors his creative power, and affects the soul of the mother. Holy Labor explores the metaphor of childbirth as used in the Scriptures, and shows how God has ultimately designed childbirth as a signpost to Christ and his gospel. Following each chapter are exercises in spiritual disciplines that help readers engage with God to allow him to transform them through the sacred act of childbirth – whether that birth involves an epidural, a cesarean, or a free-birth naked in the forest.
Whether you’re having your first baby or your fifth, Holy Labor will press you more deeply into Christ and compel you to worship the God of birth.
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“Nothing has shaped me and my view of God like the experiences of pregnancy, loss, birth, and raising children. Childbirth is more than a metaphor, it’s an altar. With this book, Aubry G. Smith has reclaimed childbirth as a profoundly theological and spiritual partnership with our Creator. Holy Labor will set women free, not only to experience an empowered and Christ-centred childbirth, but to encounter the living God in that experience.”
– Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith
“Holy Labor is a thoughtful guide to approaching birth with wisdom, grace, and yes, even joy! A must-read for expectant and experienced mothers, as well as anyone seeking a deeper understanding for how the love of God shows up in the meaningful labor of childbirth.”
– Courtney B. Ellis, pastor and writer
“As an experienced childbirth educator and doula, Aubry G. Smith has provided a much-needed book on the topic of childbirth from a Christian perspective. She does so in a way that is both biblically and theologically anchored while being extremely practical. Her personal vignettes lace through the book and accentuate vital spiritual practices that deepen one s faith. I cannot wait to refer this book to the expectant moms I know!”
– Diane J. Chandler, PhD, associate professor, Regent University School of Divinity; author, Christian Spiritual Formation: An Integrative Approach to Personal and Relational Wholeness
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