Friday, July 24, 2009

The Pain of Childbirth

According to the Bible, Eve's sin was what brought God to introduce the pain of childbirth. According to the Bible, childbearing pain is a result of sin. "To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."" (Genesis 3:16)
OK... I get that childbirth is painful, and it's something I've been thinking over a lot lately considering I will be encountering that pain in the very near future. However, if childbirth pain is a result of sin, why is it that animals feel the same pain?
And don't tell me that, no, they don't feel pain in childbirth, or that their pain is less real or intense. I've seen goats, cats, cows, etc... give birth. Cows scream and pace around frantically. Goats scream, bleat, and kick at their belly. Cats don't really scream per se, but they do definitely act as if they are in pain as well. The pain seems to be multiplied by the fact that they don't know what's going on. A pregnant goat doesn't know she's going to give birth, so when the time comes, she has no idea where the pain is coming from or that it will soon be over. All she knows is that she's in pain.
All right, this isn't a scientific study. I don't have unquestionable evidence of this. However, if you've been around animals a lot you can figure out quite easily that what I'm saying is true. If a goat is old and has given birth many times before, she won't be as panicked as a first time mom.
So, my question is, what did the animals do to deserve childbirthing pain? What did they ever do to God? Most Christians believe animals are without sin, so why did they get punished along with Eve and every woman after her? And, furthermore, why are animals subject to death as well as humans? If death is also the result of sin, why were the animals punished as well?
Also, I've been reading a lot of posts from other women too, and it seems as if a few women feel no noticeable labor pain, just pressure, and they don't get all drugged up either. How come some women feel more labor pain than others? Why would some women be exempt from feeling labor pains? Granted, the majority of us will report that it hurt like hell, but for a few women it seems they have it easy.
It seems as if, in this situation, the correct question is, "Why, God?"


  1. I always thought that the world was cursed along with man and woman. There are three images tied into the creation story: Adam/the earth, Eve/the birth cycle, the snake/the animals. When Adam was cursed, the ground was also cursed. When Eve was cursed, families were cursed, and when the snake was cursed, the animals were also cursed ("Cursed are you above all animals"- therefore the animals must have been cursed, with the snake being cursed more than the others).
    Also, although the word "death" doesn't appear right away in Genesis (maybe the 23rd chapter?) I believe that when God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, it was the beginning of death. Because, for the first time, they were not given the choice whether or not to live forever. They were forced into a mortal life, with death as the final release from the cursed world they had inspired. That's why death comes to plants and animals as well. To come as release from the curse.

    I do not know why some people would feel more labor pains than others. Just like I do not know why some farmers have harder times getting their fields to grow in a given year, etc...

  2. I had always thought that animals experience no pain when giving birth, (I've never lived near a farm before; I live in a city.) especially when I was a Christian, because God never cursed the female animals. Deluded is me.

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  4. Hi Iktomi,

    Great question.

    Strange as it seems, I think physical pain and death were part of God's original plan because they benefit us biologically and spiritually.

    Females in higher species evolved very sensitive pain fibers in the birth canal to regulate delivery rhythms, promote mother-child bonds, and to protect equally sensitive pleasure nerves which in turn promote the next round of conception, pregnancy, and birth. Seen in this light pain during childbirth seems to be at least as much a blessing as a curse. I'll understand if any women here want to bless me with a little pain of my own for that comment. But I think the idea has some merit.

    In general, pain drives animals that experience it to protect and improve what is valuable. Spiritually it humbles us to cherish what is most valuable. Death frees up resources for new life. Spiritually it opens the door to the next life. So pain and death are necessary conditions for a world like ours, where life evolves over time and people freely choose how they respond to God. I like to think of pain and death as nurse crops for Darwin's tree of life, and Adam's.

    The "curse" has to do with spiritual pain and spiritual death. We're told Eve's sorrows would increase in conception and birth, presumably because she knew her children would relive her story: innocence, a breach of conscience, broken relationship with God (spiritual death), and eventually...hopefully, restoration. The idea here is that we may not have the best of all possible worlds, but we may have the best of all possible means to the best of all possible worlds.


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  6. I have always been aroudn Cats, and I donthtink its all that pinful fr them to give Birth. They act soemwha constibpated, but it doent look much worse thanwhen they "Do their business"...

    That said, I never saw Death, as in an Animal Dying, as beign the result fo Sin. I see no evidence that Adam and Eve were ever Immortal either.

    So my takeis this. Women will have Physical and Emotional Pain (We dont know if animals ar ein pain giving birth, is speculative)when they give Birth.

    But if Animals do feel pain, I heard it may be the result of the world itself inheritign the results of sin. The Bible does say the whole creation roans in Pain due to Sin, longign for reconciliation.

    This post was a year old so I didnt spend much time on it, sorry.