Reflections of a Mother written by: Kallah Ignatius
I heard of a little boy studying catechism who thought the doctrine of unbaptized babies very harsh and he asked, “Aren’t we all childs of God?” Eeshans would answer, “Yes indeed we are!” So often, the charming simplicity of children can pierce right to the heart of the matter. The Eeshan writing on Baptism, Back to the Open Arms of the Sea is beautiful and inspirational and rings true to the heart of every mother because, regardless of her religion (or nonreligion) she knows by her experience that it is truth.
Every child born is a child of God. Childbirth is a sacred act with God’s fingerprint all over it. It is not a punishment or a curse to be endured. True, it is painful and, at times, scary, but God has so provided and outfitted a woman’s body to nourish and nurture new life. A woman is like a priestess as the child is baptized through the birth process with the blood and water acting as the baptizing elements. The water is the Divine Feminine and the Blood is the Divine Masculine.
The mystery deepens as the date of the birth, time, and place are significant for the child. An astrological reading done later in life based on these factors can show much about a person’s personality and interests. Even with scheduled caesarean deliveries, it still is the date and time that the child passed from the comfort of the mother’s womb into the physical world. It all has significance which is “written in the stars.”
There are varying birth practices all designed to honor the process and help transition the newborn into the spiritual world. The following are a few ‘birth plans’ that acknowledge the sacredness of the mother and baby bond. They are all interesting from a spiritual perspective as they point to the divine connection that the baby experiences and hopefully, is re-connected to in her/his physical life.
The placenta is so important! In a glimpse into the spiritual realm, the placenta not only resembles, but functions as a Tree of Life for the unborn child. It must stay attached as it is the power station that feeds the developing baby. There are mothers who opt to have the placenta encapsulated for ingestion as they believe it is a sort of super food which contains necessary nutrients.
Lotus birth, known as umbilical non-severance, is the practice of leaving the baby attached to the placenta until the cord naturally dries and disconnects from the belly button. This process generally takes 3-10 days but can vary depending on climate and humidity levels. The baby has a gentle transition to the outside world. They are still connected to the mother and the mother must rest and recuperate slowly. There is no choice with a placenta attached!
Most western health practitioners do not advocate (as most are unfamiliar with) a lotus birth. Southern Africa and Bali seem to be the locales where it has occurred historically although there are records in Europe and the early pioneer days of America where this was a practice. In Bali, the infant is considered so sacred that its feet are not allowed to touch the ground for the first 105 days after birth. “The practice derives from a belief that newborns are still close to the sacred realm from which they came therefore deserve to be treated with veneration.” *
Delayed cord clamping is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and other countries. It is thought that the extra one to three minutes lets blood continue to flow to the baby after birth. The umbilical cord is the physical lifeline to the mother and also has a spiritual dimension that is discussed in the Eeshan writing on Baptism. The Mysteries of Initiation (Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Eucharist) provide a spiritual umbilical cord that connects the baby to God.
Water birthing has become common in recent years and advocates say it is another gentle transition for the baby. In the UK, 30% of births were in a birthing pool in 2014. It seems as though it is new concept, but is actually ancient. It is said that South Pacific Islanders gave birth in shallow sea water-- how fitting given the title of the Eeshan writing on Baptism, Back to the Open Arms of the Sea (see website 4/17/20). There are even accounts of Egyptian pharaohs born in water.
Researchers noticed that being immersed in water seemed to help labor progress and helped women cope better with the pain of childbirth. It feels similar to the warmth of the womb for the newborn. Doctors and midwives made note of how calm babies were after a water birth. During the 1980s and 1990s interest in water birth grew in the UK, Europe and Canada. The warm water acts as a natural anesthetic for pain for the mother and a womb-like environment for the newborn— from water to water-- the arms of the Divine Feminine.
The fontanelle of the new baby is the area of the crown chakra, which is thought to be the connection of the soul to the divine. It is the part of the baby’s head that compresses to help it squeeze through the birth canal. It closes and hardens (hence, the expression “hard head”) and it is thought that the baby has lost some of its divine connection. In the Rite of Baptism, water is poured over the fontanelle to provide another connection to God.
Is there anything more holy than looking into the eyes of a newly born baby and knowing that they recently looked at God? They are wise, they are sacred and at that moment, they know so much more than the rest of us.
* “In Bali, Babies Are Believed Too Holy to Touch the Earth, The New York Times, Rousseau, Bryant, Feb. 18, 2017.
Note: I have been blessed with three children and I was honored to attend the birth of my daughter’s child and to be in close proximity to the birth of my son’s child. Additionally, my youngest daughter is a midwife and has delivered over 500 children. I have watched and listened to many birth stories as she was studying and learning. I am not a healthcare provider and all that I speak of is from an Eeshan perspective.