c. 2001 Religion News Service

MOBILE, Ala. -- When Bridgette Laubenthal went into labor, shedidn't want an epidural or any other anesthetic. She just wanted her rosary recording and a couple crucifixes.

The rosary, she said, reminds her of the Virgin Mary's labor. Inparticular, when she prays the "Hail Mary" and remembers "the fruit ofyour womb, Jesus," she thinks of Mary's delivery.

So Laubenthal, a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church, played therecording when she was pregnant. Then, as she gave birth to Gabriel Bruce three months ago, she placed two beloved crucifixes before her and listened to that same recording of the rosary. Her hope was that the prayers would offer comfort to both her and her son during the hour of their need. During seven hours of labor, they did.

"She just pulled out all the stops," said Jamie Cordeiro, aregistered nurse and the coordinator for childbirth education at MobileInfirmary. "Everything was centered around her faith."

Laubenthal isn't the only Mobile mother who relied on her faithduring what the Bible politely refers to as a woman's "time of...travail."

Cordeiro, who is also certified as a doula--one who providesphysical and emotional support during labor--said the percentage ofpeople in childbirth education classes who inquire about naturalchildbirth has nearly doubled in the past 10 years in Mobile.

"I see an increase in women wanting a natural childbirth," she said."People realize it's OK to ask your doctor for what you want."

Of those who want natural childbirth, there's a smaller subset whowish to use prayers, religious symbols, or spiritual songs as focalpoints as they give birth, Cordeiro said.

"I've just seen amazing things happen when women rely on theirfaith," Cordeiro said. The veteran nurse said she will never forget the day Rose Humphrey of Mobile gave birth to her now two-year-old daughter, Micaiah. "Rose Humphrey had her whole family with her in the room," Cordeiro recalled. They spent much of the time clapping and singing along with a CeCe Winans album, Cordeiro said.

"She showed very little pain on her face at all," Cordeiro said,though she remembered that at the end, Humphrey's eyes "got real big. Iwas just amazed at how the faith seemed to lessen her pain."

Humphrey offers a similar account of her labor. "They wanted to give me an epidural when I walked in the door," Humphrey said. She refused. She told the hospital staff: "I have my family. I have my spiritualguidance, so I'll be OK."

Humphrey said she, her husband and two sisters listened to praisemusic that served both as a source of comfort and a focal point. Then,"when it got really bad," she said, she listened to Winans' "AlabasterBox" again and again.

"Music was the absolute comfort," she said. So much so, Humphreysaid, that "even after the labor, I was still on that spiritual high.

"I had to thank and praise God," she said. "He took the pain away.Even when she came, I was comfortable."

Humphrey said she'd recommend her labor technique to anyone though she cautions that faith is required.

"It would take the faith to believe," said Humphrey, a member ofLast Days Messengers Ministry in Mobile. "It's just my faith in theLord."

As for the Winans recording, Humphrey said: "It's not the music perse, but it's the words that are in the song.... The words to the songactually mean something."

In general, Humphrey said that her religious beliefs instruct her torely on her faith rather than medical intervention.

"I was diabetic with my baby. I did have to take insulin, but in allthat I still decided that I didn't want to take any medications" duringlabor, she said. "My husband is a minister, and throughout the entirepregnancy, he would minister to me about the suffering and joy of itall.


More specifically, Humphrey said, her husband, Charles, reminded herof Jesus's suffering on the cross and emergence as victor from the grave.

"This is something he knew I could bear," said Humphrey, who also has an eight-year-old son, Micah. She went through natural childbirth with her son as well, though her religious beliefs did not play an integral role in that delivery, she said.