PROVIDENCE — Mary Haseltine, a mother of five boys, a certified birth doula and childbirth educator, wants every woman and her baby to be blessed with “a healthy, happy, and, yes, holy birth.” In her debut book entitled “Made for This: The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Birth,” Haseltine draws on Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to show that childbirth is an essential part of who God created women to be, body and soul.
With real-life stories from many moms and practical tips — including preparing for birth, making informed choices, helping fathers embrace their role in the birth room, and encountering the work of labor — the book is an indispensable guide for navigating the physical and spiritual dimensions of pregnancy and birth. Expectant mothers will find the tools they need to approach birth as a gift, and to invite recognize God’s work in the experience.
In an interview with Rhode Island Catholic, Haseltine shared that she never in her life planned on writing a book, but from the start of her motherhood and after she gave birth to her first son, she knew there needed to be a book like this to share the experience.
“God made it very clear to me about two years ago that this was what he was asking of me. There are a lot of secular books out there on birth, many of them great, but there hasn’t up until this point been a book about childbirth that approaches it from a truly whole-person perspective — body, mind, heart and soul.
“As Catholics, those of us who are called to marriage are called to be open to life and that by necessity, means being open to birth. It just seemed to make sense to have a book out there that approached birth from a specifically Catholic point of view — one that discussed God’s design of the body, how the Theology of the Body from Saint John Paul II applies to birth, what the Catholic Church and saints had to say about it, and that walked women through birth in every aspect of who they are and integrated the truths of our faith throughout.”
She added that there are so many choices when it comes to birth and unfortunately in the United States, a lot of the common protocol and procedures before and during birth are not truly evidence-based and do not respect the dignity of the mother and baby.
“As Catholics that should matter to us. As Catholics we need to do our best to promote a culture of life not only before birth but during and after birth as well,” she said. “Honoring the design of birth and helping women have beautiful, evidence-based, respectful births for them and for their children in what is a profoundly important time in their life is all a part of building that culture of life and a culture that truly respects womanhood and motherhood.”
Only recently released, “Made for This” has already had an impact on women and families, currently featured at the top 20 new releases for books written by Christian women.
“So many have written to me or mentioned how they wish this book had been around for their first births, whether that was just a short time or decades ago. People have been really surprised with just how comprehensive the information is. Choices before and during birth, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual preparation for birth, how to bring your faith into the birth room, choosing your provider and place of birth, choices for your newborn, cesarean birth, even miscarriage and stillbirth, naming your baby, and so much more are all covered from a Catholic perspective. It was really important to me that I put in as much helpful information as I could.”
Haseltine shared that as she prepared this book, she depended on the intercession of the Blessed Mother.
“I reflected a great deal on what the birth of Christ was like, both from Church teaching and from my own imagination, and how as our Heavenly Mother she truly desires each of her daughters to have a beautiful, healthy and holy birth, too,” she explained. “Her prayers are so powerful not only when it comes to birth — and writing about it — but for every aspect of motherhood.”
“Made for This” has been beautifully endorsed by many including authors of “The Baby Book” Dr. William and Martha Sears; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas; Abby Johnson, pro-life advocate; as well as Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, Colorado.
““Made for This” accomplishes the vitally important task of rebuilding a culture of life by bringing the Church’s rich teachings on motherhood and birth into a void left by the breakdown of family life and disruptions to the transmission of intergenerational wisdom,” said Archbishop Aquila. “Mary Haseltine’s engaging style and expertise as a doula combine to make this a must-read book for expecting parents.”
It is her hope that the information and encouragement in “Made for This” ultimately helps women to have better, healthier, more beautiful births for them, their babies and families.
“Far too many women and babies walk away from birth with regret, unnecessary complications, and even trauma. I hope that this book will be a part of changing that.”
Haseltine is a theology graduate and a certified birth doula and childbirth educator. With a passion for building a culture of life through the teachings of the Theology of the Body, she works to bring awareness and practice of the teachings of the Church into the realm of childbirth, mothering and pregnancy loss. Find more of her writing at maryhaseltine.com.