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Did Mary Have a Midwife?

by ACNM Guest Blogger Jennifer Williams, CNM

When I was a little girl, I always thought there was a problem with our Nativity set. I could never figure out why the baby was barely dressed and separated from his mama, laying in a bucket of hay. He looked pretty cold and lonely to me. When I was in middle school, I looked at the Nativity set and thought, “Wow, Mary looks pretty good for just having given birth in a stable.” As you can see, my fascination with birth greatly preceded my plans for midwifery school.

Even now, one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is seeing all of the images of Mary and her baby son, Jesus. Throughout history, artists have been compelled to illustrate the Madonna and her newborn. Christmas as a celebration of birth captures my imagination. I love the Christmas card aisle at the store and, even though I am a notorious slacker at sending Christmas cards, some years I am tempted enough to purchase a pack just because I love the images. I love the cultural interpretations of the Nativity that are prevalent in my state, New Mexico. A Pueblo Nativity is a work of art and love and draws my mind through cultures and time. Pregnancy and birth is a universal experience for mothers, often joyous, sometimes tragic, occasionally both.

There is a joke about what would have happened if three wise women had shown up at Jesus’ birth instead of three wise men. It goes, “Three wise women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.” I wonder if perhaps a wise woman did attend that young mother in the stable. I always hoped that Mary had someone around who could support her, dry off her baby, help her get started breastfeeding, keep an eye on her bleeding—these are the same things I wish for all women, but unfortunately many lack this very basic care.

As midwives, we come from a rich variety of cultures and beliefs. However, if the image of a birth in a stable captures your imagination the way it captures mine, I would invite you to reflect upon the conditions and circumstances surrounding birth around the world today. Whatever your personal beliefs, I know that we all wish for safe births attended by loving and supportive hands. I know we wish for all children to be educated, valued, and fed. I know we all wish for peace on earth and goodwill for humankind.

Image via.

Posted 12/22/2011 9:05:17 AM



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