Spiritual Birth Prep (What I'm Doing This Time Around)

We are so close to meeting this new little one face to face and I've been trying to prepare for him or her in all the ways. As Christians we believe that we as human persons are integrated, body and soul. We're not one or the other and we can't be fully human without both. We know birth is a huge deal physically but because of that and because of its direct connection to our womanhood and the Sacrament of Matrimony, it's meant to be a pretty big deal spiritually as well. 

There are a plethora of ways to prep spiritually for birth and with each birth I've prepared to welcome grace a little bit differently. Here's what I'm doing this time around...

The Blessing of Parents Before Childbirth
Did you know the Church has an official rite of blessing before birth? In fact, she has three! One is a Blessing of Parents Before Childbirth. (Here's the shorter rite but there's a longer one also available.) There's also the Blessing of a Mother Before Childbirth if the father isn't available. And there's a Blessing of a Child in the Womb. Blessings are actually considered the sacramental par excellence in the Church. Out of all the different sacramentals available, official blessings are considered the highest! With my last pregnancy and with this one a few months ago, we received the Blessing of a Child in the Womb from our bishop at an annual Mass held at our cathedral which was beautiful. But this time around I also REALLY wanted to receive the blessing specific to birth.

This blessing is such a hidden treasure! Most priests have never even heard of it, let alone lay people or women getting ready for birth! But it's there in the Book of Blessings just waiting to be used and offered to women. I mean, if we're going to be open to life, it's kinda nice that the Church wants to help us along in the very real process of it, you know?

I'm so so so glad we received this blessing. It was absolutely an outpouring of grace to receive this from a priest friend of ours at our Carmelite Monastery after Mass the other morning. And I know the grace of this blessing will be with us for the final days of pregnancy and through the birth.

The Agnus Dei
I've also been wearing my Agnus Dei around my neck. The Agnus Dei is a now "retired" sacramental with one of its uses for a safe and happy birth. It's a piece of wax from the paschal candle from Saint Peter's blessed by the pope and affixed with a stamp depicting the Lamb of God. It's then enclosed in a little case for use. The last few popes haven't done it so they're hard to come by but our local Carmelites have a supply that they give out. (I feel like this sacramental really made a difference in Ben's crazy birth!)

(The Agnus Dei is in that teal pouch.)

Our Lady Childbirth
During family prayer I've begun invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Childbirth for a happy, healthy, holy birth (along with St. Gerard, a patron of pregnancy and St. Brigid, patroness of midwives and newborns). I've written about her under this title before but I just love thinking of her in this way. I pray that she will be interceding and with me before and during the birth and that  through her motherly love and prayers this birth will be blessed and holy and everything that the Lord wants it to be.

Birth Affirmations
I've been trying to keep some words of truth from Scripture and the saints in my head and heart as this birth approaches. I had wanted to make up some cards to have on hand before the birth but the actual motivation and energy (and skill, ha) to actually *make* them? Sorely, painfully lacking.
So when these birth affirmation cards pictured below from Behold the Heart​ showed up in my inbox, it literally brought me to tears!  These were like a sweet encouraging gift from God that He’s taking care of me and this birth. And so many of the ones included were ones I was planning on making! (Plus, Emily was sweet enough to even do a few custom ones of some verses and quotes that are important to me!) I’m so excited to have these words speak truth and life to me during this birth and I think a lot of them will also give helpful words for my husband to use while supporting me.

(If you have a birth coming up or know someone who does, consider checking out her beautiful work! She has several styles and a huge variety of quotes and affirmations included. The ones I pictured are just some of my favorites! I also have free printable list of Scriptures for Labor and Birth here on the blog and in my book is a whole appendix of Scriptures and saint quotes helpful for birth.)

Some labors I've had a whole bunch of intentions to pray for during birth that I collected. This time, though, I have a few personal ones that I've felt more and more called to offer the labor and birth for. I've been keeping these in mind and heart and really hope and pray that my offering can draw down some grace on all of them! I'll share them with my husband who can remind me when things are hard to use the pain well.

Okay, these are mostly just for fun but along the lines of the birth affirmations, I got a few packs of temporary tattoos from Just Love Prints that I hope to put on before or during labor. I had no choice  but to get the JPII Be Not Afraid pack but also grabbed the St. Therese Little Flower collection since those particular quotes are also perfect for birth and she's one of my patron saints. And since this baby has a (very slim) chance of being born on what will be Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's feast day, I couldn't help but grab that pack, too! I guess I'll make the decision when it comes time just how tatted up I'll be ;)

A few weeks ago I put together two playlists - a fun one and a slow one. They both have songs of praise and worship included. Who knows if I'll get to use either one but I like having both on hand just in case!

I like to make sure to make it to Confession in the week or two before the birth. I try to go regularly anyway but the grace of Confession is so powerful not only for the forgiveness and reconciliation it offers for any separation we've created between ourselves and our Lord but it readies our souls for any other graces He wants to pour down upon us. And in my immediate case, I want my soul to be as prepared as possible for the grace available during birth and this newborn time.

So there's a run-down of some of the ways I've been trying to prepare and open my heart and soul and body for the grace of this birth. In my book there's a lot about why birth is designed to be not only a physical and emotional experience but a spiritual one as well. And included are even more ideas for how we can more earnestly and intentionally tap into that grace of birth with a whole lot more information. For me, for this time, these are the ways I've been tapping into that well.

This time around I'm also not being shy about asking others to pray for me and baby as well! So if you have a moment and would like to gift me with a prayer or two, I'd be very grateful!

(Boom. Yet another reminder for how powerful birth is. Just in case anyone tries to tell you it doesn't really matter ;) 

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  1. Wow I really hope to implement some of these the next time around! Although the tattoos are already in my shopping cart :P amazing all the hidden treasures in the Church, thanks for shedding light on these!
    We will pray for a holy birth and that you may enter joyfully into your labor.
    Peace be with you, Mary!

  2. Thank you for these, and for your book which changed my life and came just in time for my first pregnancy at the ripe ol' age of 39! Our priest has agreed to come to our baby shower and give us the Blessing of a Child in the Womb. I feel as though a gift for him would be in order. Any suggestions?

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply! Blogger hasn't been emailing me about comments, eek! So many congratulations on your precious baby, how exciting! That's so great the priest is coming to the baby shower, I hope I'm not too late. Perhaps having a Mass said for him? Or I know a lot of priests would appreciate a gift card to a restaurant, bookstore, or coffee shop they might like. Or maybe just a plate of homemade cookies or a pie or something?

  3. I am not catholic but I love what you have said here, I think these are all great ways to prepare for birth! I especially love those birth affirmation cards, those are SO cute!

  4. I love all you have said here! Do you have any idea where to get Agnus Dei? If your local Carmelites still have any? Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts in your post. Exactly what I needed to read tonight.

    1. They're super hard to find! I would check with any local traditional orders around you and see. Our local Carmelites might have some still but I don't know if they would be willing to ship them or if they're just reserved for people in person. Their website is https://www.buffalocarmel.org/ if you want to check! Their hours and getting hold of them has been pretty sporadic this past year with everything going on but worth a try!


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