A Novena for Labor and Birth
I don't remember when I started praying novenas. When I was growing up, my parents weren't super into the devotional aspects of the Catholic faith (we did a lot more extemporaneous type prayer than rote/memorized prayers), which changed as I got older, but I didn't grow up praying novenas. I think I probably prayed my first novena when I was in college, and it was not a traditional novena--it was a personalized wedding novena for friends of mine that was written by another friend. I love me some traditional novenas (and if you're not already signed up with PrayMoreNovenas.com, what are you waiting for?!), but I also really love writing my own. I've written them for friends' weddings, my sisters' weddings, and now for my own labor and delivery.
The theme of the novena is Salvation History: I've included holy women from the Old Testament, New Testament, and one modern mama Saint. My hope is that my pregnant readers will be able to adapt it to their own needs if they aren't up for writing a personal novena.
If you'd like to pray it along with me in advance of my due date on Nov. 6th, please do so! I'll be starting the novena on October 28th. Kristian, Baby J, and I appreciate all of the prayers we can get during this beautiful, exciting, and nerve-wracking time.
"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him." --Genesis 2:18
Eve, mother of all the living, you experienced perfect harmony with the Father in the Garden, but you also know what it is to doubt his love and provision and grasp at godliness. Please pray for me as I prepare my heart, mind, and body for motherhood, that I may not give into Satan’s lies and try to be my own god. Amen.
"And Sarah said, 'God has made laughter for me; every one who hears will laugh over me.' And she said, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age." --Genesis 21:6-7
Sarah, mother of Isaac, mother of the Jewish people, you struggled to believe that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled: that you would bear a son in your old age. You experienced the mercy of God as he fulfilled his promise to you in the face of your doubts. Please pray that I would trust in the Father’s love and mercy as I approach this labor and birth. Pray also that the birth of my son would be a cause for joy and laughter, as Isaac’s was for you. Amen.
"My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord...The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. ...The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts." --1 Samuel 2:1, 5, 7
Rachel and Hannah, you both waited for many years to conceive your sons, hoping against hope that the Lord would hear your cry. Please pray for all of my friends and family members who carry the cross of infertility, who are still waiting for an answer to their prayers for a child. Pray for all women who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or whose babies died shortly after they were born, that they would know the consolation and hope of the Resurrection in the midst of their grief. Pray for all women and men who are suffering from the aftermath of abortion, that they would know the mercy and healing of the God who is love. Help me to remember to offer the suffering of labor and delivery for them. Amen.
"For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God."--Ruth 1:16
Ruth, you left your ancestral home and family of origin and converted to the faith of Israel in order to comfort and care for Naomi, your mother-in-law. And the Lord blessed you abundantly for your fidelity and sacrifice by bringing Boaz into your life and blessing you with the privilege of being in Jesus’ ancestral line. Please pray for me, that I may be as generous and courageous as you were, especially as I approach my son’s birth. Amen.
"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." --Proverbs 31:28-30
St. Ann, mother of Mary, grandmother of Jesus, you prepared your daughter for the “yes” that she would one day say to the Lord. You and St. Joachim formed her in the faith of Israel and taught her to trust entirely in the Father. Please pray for me, that I may do the same for my son as he grows, and pray for my mother, that she would be blessed for all of the sacrifices she made to bring me into the world.
"Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." --Luke 1:45
St. Elizabeth, cousin of the Blessed Mother, you gave Mary the gift of accompaniment when she was young, unmarried, and pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for all of the dear women in my life who have accompanied me through this pregnancy, who have reminded me to rejoice in God’s goodness in moments of discomfort, and who have soothed so many of my anxieties and fears with their wise words and constant prayers. Lord, please bless my dear sisters in Christ as you blessed St. Elizabeth for her fidelity to you, and help me to accompany them when they are in need. St. Elizabeth, pray that I may always believe that what was spoken to me by the Lord would be fulfilled. Amen.
"When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus." --Matthew 1:24-25
St. Joseph, you were faithful to Mary, even when you did not fully understand her mission as the Mother of God. You protected your wife and son with the silent strength that was a testimony to your holiness. Please pray for my husband, that he would be given the courage and strength that the Lord gave you to be Jesus’ earthly father and Mary’s beloved. Pray that he would know his identity as a beloved son of God, and always remember that you have already given him what he needs to be a wonderful father. Thank you, St. Joseph, for interceding for us before we met, for bringing us together at the right time, and for watching over us during our courtship, engagement, and marriage. Amen.
Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me,
make me only know Your will.
My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls,
and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm
which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms,
I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart,
the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will,
the grace to confide in You,
the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms. --Prayer of St. Gianna
St. Gianna, please pray for me as I approach labor and birth, that I may have the courage to say with you, “Whatever God wants.” Help me to let go of all of my plans and ideas about how labor and birth should go, all of my fears and anxieties related to my baby’s health and wellbeing, and all of my questions about motherhood. Pray for all of my friends and family who have had traumatic labor and birth experiences, suffered from postpartum depression, or have faced the difficulty of a high-risk pregnancy. Amen.
"But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." --Luke 2:19
Blessed Mother Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church and Mother of all Christians, please pray for me as I enter the vocation of motherhood for the first time. You trust in God the Father was so complete that you were able to say “yes” to being the Mother of his Son. Please pray that I may trust in the Father’s love as completely as you did, and that my fiat to the vocation of motherhood will be a means of bringing Christ more fully into the world. Please help me to be gentle and patient with myself, especially when I fail to love my son as you loved Jesus, and remind me that I am and always will be your child, living under the protection of your mantle. Amen.
Closing Prayer to Our Lady of La Leche
O Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of Your tender Mother, Our Lady of La Leche, who bore You close to her heart during those long months before Your birth, I place my baby and myself entirely in Your Hands. Free me, I beseech You, from useless and consuming worry. Accept the sacrifice of my aches and pains, which I unite to Your sufferings on the Cross. Above all, most merciful and loving Jesus, protect this child You have given to me from all harm, bestowing the health and vigor every baby needs. Implant in my heart and on my lips the words and prayers of Your Mother and mine, our Lovely Lady of La Leche. All this I ask that my child and I may live to praise forever Your Holy Name. Amen.
Prayer Source: Mission of Nombre de Dios and Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche
*Unless otherwise noted, all prayers were written by me.