On the subject of how words affect belief, and how belief affects birth - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-18-2006, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Reading "Childbirth Without Fear".

The things that stand out for me most in the first 92 pages:
1. Women learn about childbirth from other women, most of whom take a great delight in talking about how awful it is.

2. The Hebrew word, etzev, translated as "pain" "sorrow" etc, in the King James version of the bible is actually "labor" "perturbed" "concerned". And, the German word Wehmutter--"midwife" literally "pain mother"--was invented out of whole cloth by Martin Luther.

Now, this is interesting on several levels. At the time of the invention of chloroform there was a protest against its use in childbirth because "woman is supposed to suffer in birth--God said so". So on one level we have the argument that pain relief is actually a-okay in labor even for women who believe in the literal interpretation of the bible. On another level, however, this shows that people in biblical times did.not.view.childbirth.as.inherently.painful. It's not a matter of saying "you have permission to use painkillers in childbirth" it's a matter of saying "you shouldn't *need* painkillers in childbirth". Huge difference.
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Old 12-18-2006, 05:11 AM
 
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Have you brought up (or done a search for) the second point in Religious Studies? It'd be interesting to see what the Jewish thoughts on that are.
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Old 12-18-2006, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It would be interesting. Particularly the attitudes of Jewish women who *aren't* on MDC. My SIL was scared of birth, but then she got a lot of her information from women on a mainstream DDC, and was, IMO if not hers, the victim of some sizist prejudices on the part of her provider.

Another note that you might find interesting, in Judaism men are commanded to bring pleasure to their wives in bed. The Torah has laws specifying a minimum amount of sex men have to provide their wives, with men in physically demanding jobs having less of an obligation (they get more rest ). Now, compare that to the likely attitudes of Christian clergy at the time of King James.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=219461 here's a discussioin in Religious Studies on this very topic. Hmm, okay, finished reading it, not as helpful as I thought. It does make an interesting example of people's unwillingness to change their attitudes about birth in the face of other evidence though.
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Old 12-18-2006, 01:37 PM
 
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This thread is very timely to me...My mother just finished her first college Hebrew class called me one day all excited..."Did you know that it says women will experience sorrow in labor...not pain?" But I knew that from years ago so I totally ruined her excitement.

http://www.unhinderedliving.com/birthbasis.html I found that site very informative.

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Old 12-18-2006, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thing is though, it's not even sorrow--it's "work". It's exactly the same word that's used to describe how Adam's going to have to work the soil to get food. I'm betting that most farmers say they "work hard to grow food", not that they "grow food in sorrow".
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Old 12-18-2006, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How Did Women Give Birth In The Bible?

Exodus 1:15-21 tells us, "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives,whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 'When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, ...

The midwives themselves said it best - "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women." Because the Hebrew women feared God, their births were somehow different. Not only did God bless their births spiritually, but their birth practices were different. Egyptian women who were used to lying around and being waited on hand and foot gave birth in the same manner, passively lying on a bed, enduring the experience.
Notice a tiny problem with the two bolded parts? Nobody was giving birth on her back at the time of the Exodus, except maybe sick women.
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Old 12-18-2006, 02:21 PM
 
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My mother is a Christian (as I am) but has a far greater understanding of the Jewish law and much of the laws God put in place in the Old Testament, and we have had many similar discussions as this. If you believe in Christ you also believe that when He came He put into place a new law, replacing that of the Old Testament and breaking the curses that came before. Just as He became the sacrifice and we were no longer told to make sacrifices He paid the price for our sins and therefore the curse of 'pain' in childbirth has also been broken. This was a HUGE affirmation to meditate on when I was pregnant.

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Old 12-18-2006, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moodyred01 View Post
My mother is a Christian (as I am) but has a far greater understanding of the Jewish law and much of the laws God put in place in the Old Testament, and we have had many similar discussions as this. If you believe in Christ you also believe that when He came He put into place a new law, replacing that of the Old Testament and breaking the curses that came before. Just as He became the sacrifice and we were no longer told to make sacrifices He paid the price for our sins and therefore the curse of 'pain' in childbirth has also been broken. This was a HUGE affirmation to meditate on when I was pregnant.
While it's wonderful that you were able to come to that conclusion, the point of this thread is that there was *never* a curse of pain in childbirth. The "curse of pain in childbirth" was an artificial construct of those who translated the Bible. The innocent explanation is that they made the false translations based on how they viewed childbirth. The sinister explanation is that they made the false translations based on how they thought childbirth should be.

Love is an important part of childbirth and your love for Christ is clearly an important part of the blessing of childbirth for you.
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Old 12-18-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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Yes, I do understand what the purpose of the thread is. I agree with what the others are saying about how God did not mean for 'pain' to mean physical pain but I do believe that the 'curse' (not my choice of word, but what most people refer to it as) was that labor would be difficult and that we would have to work, or 'toil', as the men were to toil for food, to birth our children. By saying that this 'curse' was broken I only meant that all preconceived notions, what women struggled through up until the new law, was no longer. So what I mean ( I feel like I'm talking in circles What do I mean?! : ) is that no matter what God meant when he made the declaration in Genesis, we are free from that and can birth without 'pain', or 'suffering' or 'sorrow' or 'toiling'... whichever definition you do believe. Just trying to clarify my meaning, although I may have just further confused it!

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Old 12-18-2006, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Um, yes, but I do see better where you're coming from.
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Old 12-18-2006, 06:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Another note that you might find interesting, in Judaism men are commanded to bring pleasure to their wives in bed. The Torah has laws specifying a minimum amount of sex men have to provide their wives, with men in physically demanding jobs having less of an obligation (they get more rest ). Now, compare that to the likely attitudes of Christian clergy at the time of King James.

do you happen to know exactly the requirement???? a very horny preggo would be interested to know..

don't mean to hijack.. just curious
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Off to Google...
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Jewish Law mandates regular sex between marital partners. Regular sex, "Onah," is a woman's right, and a man's obligation to perform. This is exactly the opposite position held in Western culture where sex is solely a man's right, and a woman's sole duty. One must acknowledge then, that in Judaism, a woman's sexual needs were recognized a long time ago. The Talmud is very explicit when it says that, "…a man is obliged to initiate sex with his wife any time she desires it, even beyond his obligation of Onah."

The Rabbis even specify how many times a week, and per month, one should have sex. Rabbi Eliezer says, "Men of independent means--every day, workmen--twice a week, ass drivers--once a week, camel drivers--once a month, and sailors--at least once every six months." (Ketubbot 5:6)

The Talmud explains that it is especially auspicious to make love on Friday nights to join the holiness of sexual relationship to the holiness of Shabbat.
There you go. I bolded the most useful phrase for you.
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Old 12-18-2006, 08:46 PM
 
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That's it, we're converting whether DP wants to or not.




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Old 12-18-2006, 09:21 PM
 
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That's it, we're converting whether DP wants to or not.




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Old 12-18-2006, 09:42 PM
 
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Jewish Law mandates regular sex between marital partners. Regular sex, "Onah," is a woman's right, and a man's obligation to perform. This is exactly the opposite position held in Western culture where sex is solely a man's right, and a woman's sole duty. One must acknowledge then, that in Judaism, a woman's sexual needs were recognized a long time ago. The Talmud is very explicit when it says that, "…a man is obliged to initiate sex with his wife any time she desires it, even beyond his obligation of Onah



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Old 12-18-2006, 09:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moodyred01 View Post
Yes, I do understand what the purpose of the thread is. I agree with what the others are saying about how God did not mean for 'pain' to mean physical pain but I do believe that the 'curse' (not my choice of word, but what most people refer to it as) was that labor would be difficult and that we would have to work, or 'toil', as the men were to toil for food, to birth our children. By saying that this 'curse' was broken I only meant that all preconceived notions, what women struggled through up until the new law, was no longer. So what I mean ( I feel like I'm talking in circles What do I mean?! : ) is that no matter what God meant when he made the declaration in Genesis, we are free from that and can birth without 'pain', or 'suffering' or 'sorrow' or 'toiling'... whichever definition you do believe. Just trying to clarify my meaning, although I may have just further confused it!
I have to agree with this.

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Old 12-18-2006, 10:03 PM
 
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Since we're not really discussing the gossip part of this (which I also find fascinating), should I move this over to Religious Studies?
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Old 12-18-2006, 10:43 PM
 
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Oh, good topic. So tell me, what does the word translated as "midwife" into English actually stand for?
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Old 12-19-2006, 01:08 AM
 
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That's it, we're converting whether DP wants to or not.




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Old 12-19-2006, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Which? The Wehmutter is like "mother of woe" or something along those lines.
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Old 12-19-2006, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Getting this back more generally towards birth, don't you think this makes an interesting sidepoint to NYCVeg's misogynism thread?
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Old 12-19-2006, 03:49 AM
 
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Somehow I had the idea that midwife meant "with woman"? Where did I get that?

I do think it's interesting to view childbirth as being "work" not "suffering." I tend to believe (or perhaps I want to believe) that the translation mishap was due to cultural understanding of childbirth, not an attempt to influence how childbirth was viewed.
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Old 12-19-2006, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But what about the perpetuation of the translation in face of research and practical evidence?
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Old 12-19-2006, 12:33 PM
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i find the gossip situation particularly frustrating. the social constraints and normalization of women by women through alienation techniques and or shaming techniques is really frustating.

for example, when i decided to no longer get pap smears regularly (as i feel that they're unnecessary), and i stated as such publicly (on a messageboard that wasn't MDC), a lot of women 'freaked out' and then attempted to shame me in various ways, accused me of being 'irresponsible with myself and advising others in a malicious and irresponsible way,' and ultimately tried to get me banned from that site. when i assert that prenatal care and attendants at birth are unnecessary, i get the same treatment. when i assert that FAM works and is a viable option even for teens, i get the same treatment.

it's pretty intense, the culture of fear around women's bodies and sexuality, about how we aren't able to care for ourselves through our own self knowledge and intuition and self-care techniques--that we must rely on a male-dominated cultural perspective in order to 'be safe' and 'take responsibility' and 'understand ourselves' and so on. I find this really tragic, personally.

when it comes to birth, i find that women are not only terrified of it, but they're also terrified to step out of the norms. when they do, they are verbally and otherwise attacked and through this coerced into 'mainstreamed' behavoirs that others find acceptable. they are not willing to risk being considered an 'outsider' and being treated with disdain for their choices.

ironicly, there are many women who are willing to be outsiders, who seek broader community, and would welcome women of difference (such as MDC women). But, i wouldn't say that we're the 'norm' yet.

and i think that a lot of women fear not being 'normal.'
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Old 12-19-2006, 01:27 PM
 
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Which? The Wehmutter is like "mother of woe" or something along those lines.
Sorry, posting too fast, should have been clearer. I meant from the Bible/OT. When midwives are mentioned. You said that the German translation gave us "wehmutter". What does the original word used translate more directly to? I've never heard of wehmutter before, btw. In what context was it used? The modern German word for midwife is "hebamme" but I don't know how that breaks down.

Doctorjen, "mid" is very close to "mit" in German which means "with".
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Old 12-19-2006, 02:53 PM
 
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Very good point, zoebird. I remember my mother... the last time she went for a pap smear was when she was pregnant with me. And the shame women would give her!

My mother is a total naturalist. Her main job 8 months out of the year is a "packer", as in, she's a camp guide for people REALLY interested in living in the woods for weeks to months at a time. No phones, no tp, no showers, no doctors. No motors of any kind allowed; they pack mules.

I find it astounding how many other women think she is a total wackjob. And then, are surprised to find out she's a college-educated, raised upper-middle-class woman who has not 1, but 4 degrees.

In my entire upbringing, we saw doctors only when something was out of my mother's realm, which was twice (once for a ruptured eardrum, and once for my sister's teeth). We grew up without a drop of tylenol, tussin, or any other medicine.

She taught us to trust our bodies above all else. Which is perhaps why now I can feel myself getting sick at least a week before I have any "real" symptoms.

But, I also remember the total outcast she was in our wealthy, white-bread McMansion community our father moved us to. We got dropped off at school via motorcycle, and we had "weird" lunches. My mother was always ostricized for her way of life, gossiped about, talked down to, and berated. Luckily, what I also remember about my mom, is that she never cared. She was so strong in her belief in herself, when people called her "stupid" she just grinned and would quip some sweet-but-not-quite dig and walk away.

I gained the knowledge of "it's ok to be weird" from my mother, and that no matter our decisions, to never let anyone make us feel bad for them.

But yes, I do believe in female culture, in this country, it is NOT ok to be different. Women go to very difficult lengths in order to "fit in" to the cookie-cutter standard that is issued us. They are scared of being what they truly are, or expressing any interest in anything outside that defined norm, scared of being criticized or ostracized.
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Old 12-19-2006, 04:38 PM
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i find it's particularly heightened when it comes to 'motherhood' as ideas and ideals.
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Old 12-19-2006, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When midwives are mentioned. You said that the German translation gave us "wehmutter". What does the original word used translate more directly to?
Excellent question, I have no idea. Off to Google...Everything you ever wanted to know about biblical Hebrew used to refer to midwives.

More simply, from another site: The Hebrew term translated "the midwife" (hameyaledet) may literally be translated "the childbirth assisting woman."
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Old 12-20-2006, 01:04 AM
 
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redifer, your mom sounds awesome!

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Old 12-20-2006, 05:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Reading "Childbirth Without Fear".

The things that stand out for me most in the first 92 pages:
1. Women learn about childbirth from other women, most of whom take a great delight in talking about how awful it is.
I talk about how awful it was all the time, and I can assure you I take no "delight" in that. I am obsessed with it, to the point where it is unhealthy for me, yet I can't stop talking about it and it was 19 months ago now. Remember that most women give birth in hospitals. Many women are abused there in the name of a healthy baby, or just coerced or manipulated, or ignored, etc. I believe that many women end up with PPD and/or PTSD from these birth experiences (even if they don't recognize that as the cause). I don't think they talk about it because it delights them, I think they are shell shocked and they can't help but talk about it whenever the subject comes up. I think it is sad that some women focus their attention on how painful childbirth was and how to avoid the pain by using drugs, rather than focus their attention on the real issues. However, I also think that the awfulness of their experiences are valid and I think they really mean well when they are warning other prego's and telling them to just get the epi right away. I know from experience that if you are mistreated, scared, ignored, dehumanized, etc., the pain is horrendous, and it doesn't delight me to talk about that, yet I do admittedly feel compelled. Since I am a natural childbirth advocate, I find myself trying to hold back or hide the pain aspect of the birth, but I don't really think that is the best thing to do either. Women should be prepared for what it could feel like, or it could catch them totally off guard.
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