Theology of the Body Thursday #5: The Birthing Body

Every year on Labor Day, an organization called arranges protests and various social media activism events to bring awareness to the state of birth in the US. The US has one of the highest maternal and the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world. An untold number of women carry with them horrific birth stories. Many more women suffer from post-partum depression and psychosis.

I have my own traumatic birth story to tell, so I have participated in some of these events and I always keep an eye out on what their organization is doing. This past year, they asked people to share their birth horror stories as part of their #breakthesilence campaign.

One woman shared two that I would like to share with you.


Her first child, she was unable to keep, so she made the decision to give him up for adoption. Her caregiver in the hospital could not handle the emotion of seeing a woman labor to give a child up, so she drugged this woman senseless.

What does this say about our world? If the woman was so drugged she doesn’t remember a thing, she was probably drugged enough to cause harm to the baby. It is her birth experience, not her caregivers. Are we so self-centered that we can’t think of someone else’s needs? Furthermore, are we so self-centered that if there is “nothing in it for me” we just want to get it over with? Is that part of the mentality that lets abortion thrive: mothers not wanting to go through nine months of pregnancy and labor in order to give peace and joy to someone else, not to mention the chance to live? This woman did the honorable thing to give her son a chance at a better life, the least she deserved from her caregivers was respect.


One of my favorite stories from my boss at JPII Center is the birth of one of her last kids. She is the mother of 7 children. After every childbirth, she was condescendingly asked about artificial birth control options. After one of the last, she finally just lost it on the doctor. I still haven’t heard exactly what she said to him, but I know it wasn’t G-rated.

Why do we set the limit at 2? It’s usually after 2 that a family gets deemed “too big.” Is it because we just don’t see many families bigger than two nowadays? Why is that?

In my Humanae Vitae class this past week we read a part of the letter that talks about how “we know better now the costs of raising a child.” What?!?! How insulting is that to our ancestors? Do you think that our ancestors didn’t know the costs of having big families? They had to care for and feed all those children. They watched more than their share die before the age of 5.

Just a couple generations ago, Margaret Sanger watched her mother die from tuberculosis intensified by having a large family and heard the cries of poor women who just couldn’t take it anymore. Of course, we all know what her answer to that cry was and I would hope any reader here would know what my opinion is of that answer, but my illustration still stands. These women knew full and well the sacrifice of large families. Our ancestors weren’t idiots. Post-modern man, get over yourself!

This seems to be related to the other picture in that we’ve lost a sense of sacrifice. We’re so caught in our creature comforts. Sacrifice has always been difficult for us; after all, it’s called sacrifice not plentifulness. As our society has gotten more and more wealthy, as technology has made our lives simpler, we have become less and less willing to sacrifice. We are meant to be a gift to one another. That’s what Theology of the Body is all about.

This woman has been a gift to her children. God bless her! She should be admired, not silenced.


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