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Pregnancy and Childbirth

Adopted from the book : "Principles of Marriage" by : "Sheikh Ibrahim Amini"

The duration of pregnancy is a very sensitive and fateful period in a baby's life. The mother's nutritional habits together with her physical movements and psychological behavior are vital both to herself and the life of the baby in her womb.

The baby's health or illness, strength or weakness, ugliness and beauty, and its good or bad behavior and a part of intellect and prudence, are established in the mother's womb. One of the experts writes: "The baby's parents are able to either grow in a fortress of health or in the ruins of sickness. It is obvious that the latter is not a suitable place in which the eternal soul or a human being should live. This is the reason that-parents are believed to shoulder the greatest responsibility compared to the whole of creation." 258

Therefore, the period of pregnancy cannot be regarded or be treated as an ordinary one. Once the pregnancy starts, the parents are given a great responsibility. Parents may unwittingly create a variety of difficulties, many of which may be extremely difficult to remedy, because of slight carelessness when performing their duties.

Below are a few points that should be noted:

(a) Food: A foetus in its mother's womb, feeds and grows on the nourishment in her blood. Therefore, the mother's food should be nutritive enough to provide the elements needed by the baby as well as for the welfare of the mother. Therefore any lack of vitamins, proteins, fat, sugar or carbohydrates in the mother's intake of food would inflict harm on the baby's health.

"Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'The food of a foetus, is provided by the nourishment that the mother receives'." 259 A major problem which confronts most of the pregnant women is that during either the whole or the majority of the pregnancy period, they lack a well-balanced appetite for food, as they develop craving for certain foods while being repulsed by others. Because they generally eat less, during this period, they should make sure that their food is not stodgy and at the same time nutritious enough to provide the essentials for the baby. Following up a food program in this phase of pregnancy is extremely difficult, particularly for those of low income and those who are unaware of the nutritional values of different foods.

A great responsibility rests with the father who should do his utmost to provide essential foods for his wife. Carelessness on the part of the father would be harmful to the growing baby, for which he would be held responsible in both this world and in the world Hereafter. (b) Mental State: A mother, in her pregnancy, needs serenity and should experience a sense of love towards life. This is beneficial to both the mother and her baby. The father, being responsible for providing his wife with a peaceful and lively atmosphere, should try even harder during the period of her pregnancy. The husband, through kindness and love, should behave in such a manner that his wife can feel proud and happy about being pregnant; she should feel proud that another life depends on her and that she is responsible for its welfare.

(c) Refrain from Jerky Movements: A pregnant woman should avoid strenuous activities and should rest a great deal. The lifting of heavy objects or fast body movements could result in irreparable harm to her, the baby or both. Pregnant women should refrain from doing any heavy work, and their husbands should volunteer to carry out such activities.

(d) The Fear of Labour: Delivering a baby is not always an easy event. Labour pains can sometimes be severe. Pregnant women often worry about the pain involved and the possible risks associated with child birth, followed by the period of convalescence after giving birth. Although women should be able to cope with pregnancy, labour and feeding their babies, men should also share in the responsibility of bringing up their children.

Although an embryo is conceived in women's womb, there is also the father of the baby who has played an important role in its conception. So men should make certain for their wives' comfort during child birth and be handy if anything should be urgently required.

It is both an Islamic and a human duty of husbands to do their utmost for their pregnant wives to provide medical care and facilities for an easy delivery. A man should try to be with his wife after the birth of their child; but if unable to do so, he should phone her or send a relative to stay with her. He should try to bring her back home himself and help her with the housework so that she can get sufficient rest to regain her lost energy. A man, who treats his wife well, will be rewarded by Allah.

"The Prophet (SA) of Allah stated: 'The best of men is one who treats his wife well and I, amongst you, am the best man with regard to the good treatment of my wife'." 260 "Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'May Allah bless a man who creates a good relationship with his wife, because Allah has appointed man to be the guardian of his wife'." 261

A man, who treats his wife well, will make the atmosphere of his family life warmer and will strengthen its foundations. His wife, in turn, would never forget her husband's love and affection. As a result the bonds of matrimony become stronger.

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