What Does Tim LaHaye Have to Do with Doulas?

I have a new post up at Christianity Today’s women’s blog–her.meneutics–about the role of the labor doula, why Medicaid may soon pay for doula care, and why Christians should care. Here’s a sample:

At one time, evangelical Christians gave hearty support to “natural childbirth”: before Tim LaHaye was famous for Left Behind, he was well-known for the Family Life Seminars, which advocated for natural childbirth. Ingrid Trobisch, bestselling author of Christian advice books, including the amusingly titled book The Joy of Being A Woman…And What a Man Can Do, was at one time the president of the International Childbirth Education Association, a group that certifies childbirth educators and doulas and has a clear preference for “normal” birth when possible. She wrote the foreword to Helen Wessel’s Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family went through four editions, insisting passionately that the Hebrew in Genesis does not mean that birth has to be painful. But in none of these examples does the much-vaunted blessing and benefit of “natural childbirth” extend outside the boundaries of the nuclear family:

[We advocate a] strong emphasis on natural childbirth with the active participation of the husband as an avenue of emotional and spiritual enrichment of the marriage.

Trobisch and Wessel don’t mention doulas (the term—and the role—was formalized some time after they were writing), but studies do suggest that doulas enhance, rather than detract from, a couple’s experience of childbirth and are associated with increased marital satisfaction.

Today, some groups (like Gentle Christian Mothers) advocate natural birth, but in many circles, birth has become more of a “Mommy War” issue; last year, Nancy Wilson suggested that women who desired a particular kind of birth were in danger of becoming “self-absorbed fussers.”

But as evidence favoring compassionate care grows—in an age where cruelty on the maternity wards still exists—Christians, in supporting a culture of life, could consider how we might advocate for (in terms of policymaking) and tangibly be with (perhaps as volunteer doulas?) women who might need extra support in what are some of the most vulnerable hours of their lives.

{read it all here.}

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3 thoughts on “What Does Tim LaHaye Have to Do with Doulas?

  1. Thanks for this trip down memory lane! I read Wessel back in 1970 when I was pregnant for the first time, and I loved Ingrid Trobisch’s “Joy of Being a Woman” (and, when I met Ingrid some years later, I loved her too!). One correction: Ingrid actually dedicated that book to her doula, and she mentions doulas several times in it. A woman ahead of her time!

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