You will notice I did not rate Supernatural Childbirth with stars. It really is not a pregnancy or birth book in the traditional sense, and doesn’t relay information that I am credentialed to evaluate. This is a book about Christian faith, and its application to a faith-based approach to fertility and birth. It highlights biblical scripture related to the barren becoming pregnant and to the Hebrew women having fast easy births, and encourages Christian women to claim the word of God and God’s promises for fertility and birthing.
In Supernatural Childbirth, author Jackie Mize recounts her own experiences with infertility, conception, and pain free birthing, as well as the testimonials of many others who claim the name of Jesus and God’s promises while renouncing pain and infertility as the work of the devil. She emphasizes the importance of reading and studying God’s word, integrating these promises and believing them. Mize also believes that while health and fertility are the goals, pain-free birth is also possible through faith. According to her, all pain is under the curse of the law of Genesis, and we are redeemed from it through God. She instructs women to command their bodies to work without pain during birth through the name of Jesus.
At the heart of Supernatural Childbirth is a belief that is also found is secular birthing books, such as Childbirth Without Fear, that the pain of childbirth is directly related to fear. In the absence of fear, birth is painless. Mize believes that faith, and the peace it brings, are the opposite of fear and the pathway to a fearless birth.
While I am not a professional in religion or faith and therefore can not evaluate the merits of Supernatural Childbirth and its biblical basis, I can share some insights into the impact of this book for myself and some of my clients who have put a great deal of faith and hope in it. I am wary of books that set women up to evaluate their degree of “success” in childbirth with the degree of pain they feel. I have come across this measure of achievement in other faith-based books that teach heavily that pain in childbirth is part of a curse that saved women (i.e. born-again Christians) are redeemed from. I have also come across this measure in secular books emphasizing hypnosis, enlightenment, mindfulness, and expansive sexuality. Expanding these notions of control and achievement into the realm of infertility feels extremely inappropriate.
Supernatural Childbirth does a good job of acknowledging the possibility without holding it as an achievement or measure of goodness. While at first glance, this may seem to be an illogical contradiction, I believe it is accurately reflective of mind-body implications lacking a conscious degree of control. In other words, I believe that mental and spiritual realms have a great deal of impact on physical outcomes, but that this connection is not under our simple control or a reflection of the purity of an individual’s contribution. It is complex and remains beyond our understanding. This means that spiritual and mental changes may or may not have physical implications for any one individual.
I have had clients who put a great deal of trust and hope in Supernatural Childbirth and then did experience painful births. For some, it shook their faith in unhealthy and unnecessary ways and left them grappling with feelings of guilt or abandonment. I have also had clients who experienced pain-free birthing. The majority of them recount faith and deep peace when asked about how they approached their birth. For some, the faith was religious and for others, it was a faith in women, nature, or birthing.
Not by any plan of my own, I happened to review this book the day I gave birth to my fourth daughter, just hours before my labor began. Not being an evangelical Christian myself, calling on the name of Jesus or denouncing a devil in whom I do not believe was not authentic for me… but I decided to give the claims in Supernatural Childbirth a try, albeit with a universalist twist, based on my belief in the divine within everything.
My fourth labor was dramatically different from my first three. As instructed in Supernatural Childbirth, I did indeed, loudly, command my body to work without pain and I experienced powerful, long contractions along with a sense of stretching and opening without painful sensations up until the final hour of my birth. In my previous labors, the pain during those same stages of labor was intense. I did experience the physical sensations of birth in an entirely new way. To what factor this difference can be attributed, I will never know.
I share this story as a way of sharing my belief that we should talk about the power of belief, language, and participation – both with women preparing to birth and with all maternity care providers who care for them and with fathers, partners, and other supporters. These realms matter and their influence can’t be overlooked. But I also caution against grasping onto absolute claims and maintain that control is not within our hands. Any birth story is possible for any woman, and all involved should be prepared to support the whole family in all ways – emotional, spiritual, physical, and beyond.
I certainly do not recommend Supernatural Childbirth as your sole, or even primary, source of preparation. There is much more to be learned about birthing. But, for a look at the role of faith in one woman’s motherhood journey and a consideration of new possibilities, this book is an interesting exploration. If you do practice an evangelical Christian faith, it’s definitely a great resource for revealing scriptures that will have a positive impact on your pregnancy and birth preparation.
Supernatural Childbirth’s Author, Jackie Mize
Jackie Mize was a missionary, living for a time in Mexico and also traveling overseas. She and her husband ministered in churches, bible schools, and conventions. Besides writing Supernatural Childbirth, her interest in children and women led Mize to establish the Jackie Mize International Children’s Foundation to help needy children. The mother of four children (after told at a young age that she was infertile), Jackie passed away in October 2013 at the age of 64.