New Beginnings Doula Training

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LDS view of the body-why that makes a difference

Thus far in this study of LDS birth culture and choices I have felt like many of the prevalent ideas just don't hold sway. (See my other posts on LDS birth culture). The ideas of Eve's curse and patriarchy just doesn't seem to fit in with what I've seen. So I've begun asking myself..."just how does the LDS culture play a role in the birth choices?". Mostly I've thought that it doesn't really. It appears that mostly the dominate culture plays a role. One thing I have seen is the desire to treat our bodies well and also the desire for birth to be a spiritual experience.

This stems from the teaching that our bodies our a gift and a blessing and should be treated as such. This is a quote from Joseph Fielding Smith (a previous prophet and president of the LDS church) concerning our bodies:

“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into a herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none.

“All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 181)

For a great understanding of this idea check out this article.

An oft quoted scripture also explains this idea...

“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The body is truly though of as a temple in LDS doctrine and should be treated as such.

Now how is this idea reflected in LDS birth choices. First off many LDS women I have talked to want to take care of their bodies. The choice not to use drugs in childbirth is sometimes reflected in this. If a drug is used many will ask that it be as little as possible. Since the use of drugs is so common and advocated in many ways by the medical establishment many women do not view this as a problem though. Controlled use of drugs is deemed acceptable by many. What appears to make more of a difference is whether or not their choices will enhance the spirituality of the experience.

From talking with women of the LDS faith there is an idea that birth can and should be spiritual. Women who have chosen to have an epidural have done so because they have felt that the intensity of the contractions where too much. This caused them to loose focus on the spirituality of the event. On the other hand the choice not to use medication is made for the same reasons.

These are all just my own observations but I would love to see studies done. Maybe someday I'll try getting into the research field:)

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.