Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Bringing Forth Life

Bringing Forth Life, Jodie McIver (Growing Faith, 2023)

I really liked this book by Jodie McIver, which considers pregnancy and birth from a Christian perspective:
“God uses our pregnancy, birth and new parenthood - in all its intensity, joy and pain - to transform us in knowledge and likeness of him.” (p14)
McIver is well equipped to author such a book, being a midwife with three children, who has studied theology and works alongside her husband in ministry. She wants to bring us to a bigger picture of birth - one which considers God’s role in us shaping us and teaching us, and showing us his mercy and care. While it is for anyone, and certainly partners, family, support people, and those in Christian healthcare would benefit, it is really aimed at pregnant women. In addition, being Australian makes it very relevant for our local context, especially regarding options for birth and how pregnancy care is managed.

McIver first explores the realities of bringing forth life. Chapters consider the bible as the ultimate birth story, the privilege of womanhood, and the good changes that God works in us through pregnancy and birth:
“entry into motherhood involves Christ-like works of taking weakness upon ourselves to bring new life to another. We are privileged to join with God in the high calling of bringing forth life through costly love.” (p33)
I really appreciated her body positive comments about how we physically change through the process of entering motherhood. For those that find the physical marks of childbirth hard and long for the pre-baby body, she encourages us to see that our body “is now an upgraded model, complete with marks of life-giving and costly love” (p42).

The second part explores the uncertainty that this stage of life brings, the additional suffering and pain some bear, options for pregnancy care and various testing procedures, as well as choices for giving birth, yet all the whole reminding of the reality that we are not in control, but our sovereign God is.

The final section section explores being a newborn mother - from the moment of meeting your baby, that range of emotions experienced in the early days and weeks, how family changes and the support we can access around us, summing us with wise and insightful comments on the whole process of matrescence (becoming a mother).
“Although it may feel, at times, like we are losing our lives or ourselves in becoming a mother, what we are experiencing is an opportunity for reorientation and radical new growth in Christ’s image. God understands the true cost of bringing forth life.” (p161)

The whole book deftly balances acknowledging and understanding the challenges many women face with the change into motherhood, yet also encouraging us to see the wonder, joy, and privilege of all aspects of becoming a parent. Biblical themes of labour, birth, and parenthood are highlighted and expounded. All of this is embedded in God’s promises and character, and links are regularly drawn between God’s loving and sacrificial care for us and how that can be echoed in how we care for our children. She offers balanced perspectives throughout, honouring choice and options, with a clear respect for the gift of life.

This is an excellent book. Highly recommended reading for any Christian entering parenthood (especially motherhood), and for those who support them. I wish I had it when I was pregnant!

I was given a pre-release ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.