The Sacrament of Pregnancy

Why a ‘sacrament’?

The church has long taught that there are certain special moments where God is particularly present in our world. The ritual of baptism, the sharing of a communion meal. Different church traditions have argued about how many there are, but that seems to me to be a nonsensical question.

The Sacrament of Pregnancy | | Il Vento (2006) Helaine Blumenfeld, Salisbury Cathedral

God is particularly present in an infinite number of ways, surely? And how I experience God’s presence is very likely to be alien to your experience.

So these occasional ‘Sacrament’ posts (The Sacrament of Housework, The Sacrament of Breastfeeding) are trying to draw out and acknowledge the sacredness of some experiences that didn’t make the Big Seven or Big Two that various churches get excited about.

The fact that marriage and ordination can be officially named as holy moments, but the conception and bearing of a child have not been is just one more reason we need more women doing theology and exercising leadership in the church, I say.

I feel like I don’t even need to argue this one very hard. Surely it’s clear to everyone who relates to the idea of the ‘sacred’ that participating in the creation of a new human being must inherently be a holy, sacred thing, where God can be keenly felt?

Sacraments aren’t exclusive or compulsory – not everyone gets to be married or ordained, and baptism and the eucharist are open to everyone, but optional.

Conception and pregnancy are of course two things that not everyone is lucky enough to experience. Saying that they are sacraments is not at all to suggest that lucky = blessed. I did nothing whatsoever to deserve either my baptism or my pregnancy.

I wonder, though, if it is possible to experience someone else’s pregnancy as a sacrament. What do you think? And the inverse? I wouldn’t presume to say this for anyone else, but it may be for some people that longing to be pregnant is also a time where God can be close.

If I were to embark on a bit of a series on The Sacrament of Pregnancy, what would you like to see in it?

The sculpture in the title image is Il Vento (2006), Helaine Blumenfeld, photographed in Salisbury Cathedral when I visited in 2013. 

There are plenty of ways to join the Sacraparental conversation and keep in the loop.

You can get emails whenever there’s a new post here by signing up at the top of the right-hand sidebar, and/or also follow us on Facebook (for extra links and resources, daily), Pinterest (for link-collections) and Twitter (for occasional ranting and raving).


Do you want to use one of these shiny sharing buttons?

4 comments on “The Sacrament of Pregnancy”

  1. Suse Reply

    I’m looking forward to reading more Thali. I’d love to read your thoughts/findings/musings about that time of longing before pregnancy and also maybe a bit about what happens when the sacrament of pregnancy doesn’t end happily? Is it still a sacrament then? Or a lesson? xxx

  2. Jekheli Kibami Singh Reply

    Beautifully written Thalia.
    When these ‘sacraments’ come together it is most powerful. One that I so passionately have pondered about (any word limit here? 🙂
    Not long after my ordination to priesthood, I was pregnant with our second child. I wondered how our congregation might react. Will they still accept me as their priest/pastor/minister? How will they feel about a pregnant priest ministering the Holy Communion to them? etc etc As my pregnancy progressed, I would occasionally ask my husband Rajnish (the then Priest at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church of Stratford, Taranaki, and with who I was sharing ministry with) “Is it still ok for me to take the Eucharist service today?” and many other concerns. One thing I did not ask him at that time was if I looked ok in my alb 🙂
    I was blessed to have been placed amidst a very supportive congregation. My secret inhibitions were greeted with excitement, love and support. When our baby arrived, he was clothed in the most beautiful booties and cardigans knitted by our lovely parish ladies.
    I discovered that all my apprehensions were due to the various patriarchal mindsets I had internalized. In the world that I come from, some people see pregnancy as an obstacle for women to be in full time ministry. One need not be ordained to be in ministry, and yet if there are women called to be in ordained ministry, her possibility of becoming a mother is seen as a hindrance. The wealth of perspectives we miss out on! Anyway, back to your question, yes indeed, pregnancy was a sacred experience for me both as a woman and in my role as a priest.
    To me being pregnant was a truly sacred experience, as many people might have many other sacred experiences. It was humbling that as a woman I was carrying this life inside of me, a life that I could nurture in some ways and yet had no control over, a life that God alone has control over. To me there are no two ways about it- Life is from and of God. I had to affirm this over and over again when I thought I was miscarrying again at 13 weeks (had two miscarriages before). There was immense power in my vulnerability!
    In the latter part of my third trimester, as I stood breathing a little heavy, saying the final committal for a 90 year old, “…earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” the overwhelming reality of the cycle of life engulfed me. I experienced a tangible sacred moment right there and then. Celebrating a life well-lived and anticipating the impending arrival of a new life. How do I put these in words! God’s grace, great joy and privilege beyond words.
    As a woman, I have experienced the frustration of getting my monthly periods when I had prayed that it would stop because I so longed to become pregnant. I have experienced the pain and helplessness of life slipping away as I was miscarrying (twice at 13 weeks). I am so blessed and grateful that I have an amazing husband with whom I share the many sacred moments in my life. My two healthy happy boys Uday (7) and Avika (3) living reminders of my life-giving role in God’s world. Celebrating God’s grace in our daily experiences, sacred and hard months of pregnancy and the not so sacred sleepless nights and all.
    Thanks again Thalia I better stop here 🙂

  3. Steph Reply

    I have definitely experienced pregnancy as something sacred and also pregnancy loss as a sacrament. In the days and weeks after I buried my stillborn son I felt the closest to God that I have ever felt.
    The next closest times have been with my two prematurely born children in the NICU when I should have still been pregnant. Instead I got to watch them grow through the third trimester in incubators and got to hold them on my chest and feel their tiny hearts beat next to mine. Sacred indeed.

  4. Jody Reply

    My first thought from reading this is that probably it’s when things don’t go smoothly / well that I have been most aware of the sacredness of pregnancy.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge