“Growing a baby offers a woman the opportunity to be part of Mother Nature’s mysteries, which directly connects her to the source of all things.” (99)
Sacred Pregnancy is a guidebook and journal for pregnant mothers. “The point of this book is to help you feel prepared emotionally, spiritually, and physically to birth your baby and enter motherhood,” says author Anni Daulter. (291)
Get the book in your hands and you’ll see it was obviously lovingly designed. It’s filled with gorgeous full-color pregnancy photography, depicting a lovely diversity of mama bodies. The birth stories at the end of the book are moving and feel realistic. I cheer at Daulter’s body-positive approach when I read things like this:
“You are supposed to gain weight during pregnancy and honoring that as a part of the process will give you more freedom to say yes to yourself with a balanced consciousness around your choices.” (35)
I wish I’d had its week-by-week guide to the baby’s development and changes in the mama’s body during my pregnancies. Sacred Pregnancy feels more nurturing than the guides I consulted.
The tone of optimism and support in this book is the polar opposite of the popular and fear-mongering What To Expect. For some mamas, Daulter’s constant urging to remain peaceful and think positive thoughts for the good of the baby could actually create unintended stress in the mom who feels pressured to be more serene.
My biggest complaint about the book may be something that doesn’t bother you at all — the structure as a week-by-week workbook. I don’t think this would work well for me to try to use for a pregnancy, because I never seem to feal naseau or fear or nesting or whatever at the time I’m predicted to.
Beyond that, to use every section of the workbook week by week you’d have to start two weeks before conception, and I imagine I would have felt abandoned by the book congratulating me on motherhood at week 40, when my little one was still safely tucked inside and clearly not ready to budge. My advice is to not be afraid to read ahead or even out of order.
There are a bunch of places where I disagree with Daulter. The book includes some disappointing instances of gender essentialism. I find her advice to learn to accept unsolicited touch to be truly misplaced. The constant recommendation of branded products and services is often useful but also gets to feel less like friendly advice and more like product placement.
But none of these changes my overall assessment that this book is a gorgeous, generous, nurturing tour through pregnancy and birth.
Not content to stop at the publication of the book, the Sacred Pregnancy website is a rapidly growing resource, whose maintainers were kind enough to publish my article on labyrinths as metaphors for birth. And they’re planning both a magazine and trainings for birth professionals wanting to teach the Sacred Pregnancy curriculum.
Note: I received a free review copy of Sacred Pregnancy.
Sarah Whedon teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary and is the founding editor of Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in San Francisco with her partner and their children.