(Investigator 51, 1996 November)

The Old Testament states that Abraham’s offspring would become a great nation with a high population growth rate and low disease rate. The New Testament also teaches that obedience to "God" is related to health and happiness.

We can therefore search the Bible for clues about staying healthy.

In separate and future articles I'll discuss:

(1) Psychological benefits of commands and counsel given in the Bible and their connection to health;
(2) Foods favourably mentioned in the Bible.
In the current article I'll present a few of the Bible clues to better health for mothers and babies.

In the time of Moses, Pharoah of Egypt ordered the death of every newborn Hebrew boy. The women gave birth using a birthstool. (Exodus chapter 1) This was related to rapid and vigorous births.

Even earlier, the maid of Rachel, wife of Jacob, gave birth in a sitting position. (Genesis 30:3)

In contrast most modern women gave birth lying on their back. In 1986 the German periodical Der Spiegel called this, "The second stupidest position after standing on your head." (No. 43 pp. 5, 278-288)

The high proportion of caesarian deliveries (10% in some hospitals) was related to using this "stupid" position. The book Health Medicine and the Human Body (B Dixon 1986) has a photo of a woman giving birth in a sitting position and explains, "Increasingly, doctors are encouraging positions for birth that enable gravity to help the contractions."

There was much use of birth-stools in Europe in the Middle Ages. Women in many African and New Guinea tribes give birth in a squatting or sitting position. However, my aim is to emphasize the Bible and failure to employ clues to health given therein.

Breast-feeding of infants in the Western World seemed on its way out in 1970. Many mothers regarded it as a lower-class practice.

Table 1

Date US Mothers Breast-feeding
1900 95%
1940 59%
1950 30%
1960 20%
1970 18%


"Some obstetricians actively advocate bottle feeding because breast feeding mothers take up too much of their time with follow-up consultations." (1970 December 1)

The Bible all the way through is positive about breast-feeding up to the age of four or five. The apostle Peter showed approval by using it as an analogy for salvation: "Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow to salvation." (1 Peter 2:2)  

After 1970 the tide turned. For example:

"The increase of breast feeding has reversed a 40 year trend of declining figures in Australia.
The 1975 annual report of the Director of Maternal and Child Welfare in Victoria, Dr Elizabeth Wilmot shows a 50 per cent increase over four years for mothers who breast feed their babies up to the age of three months." (The News 1976, June 2)

In the 1990s breast feeding of babies is popular and often seen in public. Breast-fed babies develop faster, and are healthier. Human milk kills certain parasites which cause disease in the digestive system. The nipple stimulation in the mother reduces chances of future breast cancer

My article The Bible, Science and Sex Relationships (investigator 48) demonstrated the health benefits and pyschological benefits of abstaining from pre-marital sex. Problems not there discussed included those of unwanted pregnancies.

Recently The Advertiser reported: "nearly two-thirds of teenage pregnancies in South Australia ended with abortions last year." (1996 October 12, p.17)

"Just one abortion significantly increased women’s risk of developing breast cancer, a study of 40 years of medical evidence has found." (The Advertiser 1996 October 12 p.14)
The report cited the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and went on:
"The annual 800,000 first-time abortions in the United States would produce an extra 24,500 cases of breast cancer not attributable to other causes, said the authors, led by City University of New York’s Professor Joel Brind." (1996 October 12, p.14)  
The few comments in the Bible about the unborn imply that to kill them is to kill a human being. (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13-16; Luke 1:44; Exodus 21:22-25)

Mary, the mother of Jesus, wrapped the new-born Jesus in "swaddling cloths". (Luke 2:7, 12) That swaddling is of benefit is also implied in Ezekiel 16:4 and Lamentations 2:22.

Desmond Morris wrote:

"Recently the matter was examined scientifically, with both swaddled and unswaddled babies checked for discomfort by sets of sensitive instruments. The conclusions were that swaddling did in fact make the babies less fretful, as shown by reduced heartbeat rate, breathing rate and crying frequency. Sleep, on the other hand, was increased." (Intimate Behaviour 1971, Corgi Books, p. 19)  
The article Biblical Values Promote Safer World (Investigator 41) showed the value the Bible placed on children and that this was at odds with the popular, ancient, practice of infanticide. One source there referred to said:
"It was this Hebrew view of the sanctity of human life, passing through the medium of Christianity into the Roman world, that finally destroyed the monstrous evil of infanticide." (Castle, E B 1961 Ancient Education And Today, Penguin p. 169)
These, then, are some of the clues and values in the Bible which make for better health to infants and mothers.

"Anonymous" defends the Bible on this website: