Mother with Child: Transformations through Childbirth

Mother with Child: Transformations through Childbirth

Mother with Child: Transformations through Childbirth

Mother with Child: Transformations through Childbirth


"Rabuzzi rejects the status quo, presenting viable, often spiritual, alternatives to prevailing high-tech, patriarchal models of childbirth." --Booklist

"Excellent." --The Reader's Review

"A lovely book.... It is a book for anyone wishing to reexamine and reclaim birth's potential for sacredness." --Robbie Davis-Floyd, author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Rabuzzi, author of The Sacred and the Feminine and Motherself, contends that childbearing has been denigrated, denied, and devalued. This book is intended to help women rename, re-ritualize, reinterpret, and reframe childbearing for themselves and their partners.


This book has alternately fascinated and frustrated me, its thirty-year gestation feeling inordinately long. “Conceived” at the birth of my first child in 1959, it owes its existence to faulty anaesthesia. in the late fifties, spinal injections, known as caudals, were favored for obstetrical anaesthesia because they permit continued consciousness while numbing a woman’s lower body. Because my caudal failed, I had an unanticipated “natural” childbirth, which resembled nothing I had ever previously experienced. As my baby crowned, I felt myself expand infinitely outward. This did not exactly hurt; it was on “the other side” of pain, where pain is no longer an appropriate word. Possibly ecstasy will do.

By whatever name, my unusual feeling simultaneously contracted me inward with such intensity that I felt myself compacting into a very dense version of my habitual self. a few years later I recalled this strange phenomenon when I read a description of a dwarf star, a star so imploded that, assuming an original circumference of a square mile, it is now the size of an orange. Yet it retains its original million pounds of weight. I recognized in this odd condensation an image of my childbearing experience. How I could simultaneously feel both movements, I did not know. Accompanying them was a loud “pop,” which seemed to both trigger and form a part of the two opposed movements. At the same time, I was also “dying,” “being born,” and giving birth. At age twenty, none of this made much sense to me. Certainly the only pregnancy and childbearing book I had read at the time, the then-popular Expectant Motherhood by Nicholson J. Eastman, M.D., revealed nothing of this sort. Nor did anyone I knew ever mention birth, death, and giving birth converging like this. By late-fifties standards, experiencing childbirth mystically—not that I then recognized it as such—was peculiar; nonetheless, I valued the experience. in the difficult period of adjusting to motherhood, though, I more or less forgot about it. Not until my final childbirth, when I experienced the same pattern of sensations, my middle delivery having been obliterated by total anaesthesia, did my original curiosity return.

This repeated experience of infinite outward and inward expansion accompanied by the “popping” sound and simultaneous sensations of dying, being born, and giving birth initiated a lifelong quest for answers: Why did this happen? What does it mean? Am I unique, or have others felt this way, too? This book is one attempt to provide some answers.

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