Written by Nature’s Way and AMANI Birth | Published by Amani
When I was given the AMANI birth preparation kit a couple of months before I was expecting to give birth to my first baby, I was overcome with a sense of relief. By month seven of my pregnancy, I was underprepared and overwhelmed at the prospect of what lay ahead of me. I’d read lots of articles, including extremely helpful ones written by Maria Zain (may Allah swt have mercy on her), and had decided to invest in Ina May’s ‘Guide to Childbirth’. I had intentionally avoided thinking about and discussing labour up until this point because, quite simply: I was scared. Scared of pain and scared of death. All I had established was that I was quite attracted to the idea of giving birth without any additional medication, and I was (almost obsessively) drawn to a water birth. I had briefly flirted with the notion of a home-birth but realised quite quickly that this only increased my anxiety. I knew I would feel more at ease in a hospital, close to medical staff in case things took an unexpected turn.
Even as I compiled all of these wishes in my birth plan, I still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that I would be birthing a baby. My hospital bag was packed and I had ticked off everything on my checklist. Despite being ready in every other sense, I still had no idea how to prepare myself mentally, physically or spiritually for what was to come.
It was the AMANI birth preparation CD and booklet that gave me a sense of direction. It guided me in a way that stayed true to my religious beliefs. It is short but very much to the point, and it uses Islamic references all the way through to help me understand that labour is something I could survive. The booklet is 32 pages long and is divided into neat sections. I particularly enjoyed reading the thoughtful note for fathers, advice for that initial breastfeed, and the section that is dedicated to relevant and much-needed supplications.
One thing that impressed me is how honest and religiously sound this booklet is. The author makes a conscious effort not to propagate the many baseless and fabricated ahadith that have become popular on the topic of pregnancy and labour. From the very beginning, the CD informs listeners and readers that although a specific dua does not exist for labour, there are many that are perfect for this situation.
The section I found most useful is the one that advises on the various dua that can be recited. Physical pain is something I haven’t experienced much of. I’ve never broken a bone, I’ve never before needed surgery and I’ve never been hospitalised. Good health is something that (I’m ashamed to say) I’ve always taken for granted. I find it much easier to relate to the notion of emotional or psychological hardship. So when I opened up the Ultimate Islamic Birth Preparation Booklet and found one particular dua that I often recite during emotionally testing times, I was completely thrown. Before this point, I had really only understood revelation in the context of emotional pain. It had never occurred to me that I could use this dua during birth:
“O Allah! There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your will.” (Ibn Hibban)
When the booklet reminded me that “Allah does not burden any soul with more than [s]he is well able to bear” [Qur’an 2:286], I was instantly comforted. When I was reminded that even a thorn prick expiates the sins of a believer (Bukhari), I felt inspired.
Both the CD and booklet encourage the recitation of supplications and Quranic verses that remind people of the reward labour brings. It reminded me to repent constantly and expect the reward and pleasure of Allah (SWT). I view this material as being a much-needed reminder. It reminds you of the dua you should be reciting; it reminds you of the verses and Quranic stories that women can relate to during what is the most physically challenging time of their lives; and importantly for me, it reminded me that although we plan, Allah (SWT) is the best of planners. And this was particularly important for me since my labour resulted in an unexpected C-section.
After reading and listening to the guide, I was left with the positive message that I could only do what was in my power, and that I should leave the rest with Allah (SWT). I didn’t come away feeling pressured to go down a certain route, which is important since lots of other birth books can be quite aggressive in their propagation of particular birth experiences. The booklet does gently encourage a natural birth, but it also acknowledges that this isn’t what is best for everyone, and that women should consider the medical advice offered to them by practitioners.
In the end, I didn’t get to use the CD as I would have liked to during the birth, as I ran into some technical difficulties! So for me, the booklet and CD were much more about helping me prepare for the birth before I actually went into labour. I would advise anybody who wants to use this CD to make sure the mp3s work before you get to the hospital. Unfortunately, mine didn’t, and so rather than having a trance-inducing voice encouraging me to repeat after her, I had to improvise a little and could only recite the supplications I knew from memory.
Lastly, I would have benefited very much from the booklet printing these supplications in their original Arabic script, as well as the transliteration and translation that is already provided. There were some sounds that I found difficult to make out on the CD, and when I wanted to check what these words were, the Arabic was not available for me to refer to.
Overall, I would recommend that any woman who is interested in having a labour that is primarily about ibaadah (worship) invest in this preparation guide. It was instrumental in helping me turn my birth experience into an opportunity to worship Allah (SWT). The Ultimate Islamic Birth Preparation CD is available at http://www.amanibirth.com/
Iimaan Shayma is a 24 year old writer and editor from Manchester, UK. You can follow her on Twitter at @IimaanShayma