The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem
A Midwife's Tale
Signed by the author
Salome holds the birth stones and birth wisdom for the town of Bethlehem, like her mother and grandmother before her. She has helped so many babies into the world, including a baby born in a stable under the light of the brightest star anyone had ever seen. An unexpected birth which made ripples that reached across time…
This is not the story of Jesus, rather the woman who delivered him.
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There was a time when birth was considered sacred, a rite of passage, a gift from God, tended to by women with herbs, wisdom, prayer, love, courage and the knowledge of their ancestors to bring new life safely into the world. These were the birthkeepers.
Salome holds the birth stones and birth wisdom for the town of Bethlehem, like her mother and grandmother before her. She has helped so many babies into the world, including a baby born in a stable under the light of the brightest star anyone had ever seen. An unexpected birth which made ripples that reached across time...
This is not the story of Jesus, rather the woman who delivered him. Through her eyes we witness the sacred art of the birthkeepers, the transformational journey of birth and the power of love.
Women’s space, women’s bodies, women’s ways…
|Dimensions||216 × 140 mm|
Signed by the author
A Midwife's Tale
Praise for The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem
We know this story. But we’ve never heard it quite like this.
Bridget Supple conjures the colors and sounds and rhythms of daily life in Bethlehem at the beginning of the Common Era. From the perspective of the midwife, Salome, it’s just another birth. Births are always miraculous, only this one is a little more so than usual. There’s a new star in the sky. And there are strangers with strange visions. But the mother and baby are the work of the moment and those mysterious things must be puzzled over later.
Midwifery is indeed timeless: a traditionally-trained midwife today would be using the same techniques and medical herbs. In fact, you could actually use these birth stories as a very good midwifery textbook!
This book tells a story we all know with great sweetness and a loving heart.
Gail Hart, midwife of fifty years, dedicated to preserving improving birth outcomes by integrating traditional midwifery methods with appropriate medical care
The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem is a joyful paean to the sacredness and power of women’s wisdoms. Bridget Supple draws on her extensive experience in ante and peri-natal care to create a world where we are immersed in the birthing transformation. Supple lets us live in the sanctity of those times with women as they create and give birth to life. She has invited us into a world rich with Jewish traditions, herbal lore and ancient birthing practices. I have been a doula and acupuncturist, working with women in pregnancy and delivery for thirty years, and each birth described in this book felt authentic, transporting me back to those rooms. Women need to be supported with love and respect, and Supple reminds us of the honor and privilege of providing that support.
Gina Martin, M.S. board certified acupuncturist, author of the When She Wakes series
Enter the inner thoughts and longings of a passionate midwife. Supple weaves her love of Christ with her love of midwifery. The protagonist is smart, brave and competent, bubbling up with quips delightfully befitting the historical and cultural setting.
At the same time, modern midwifery values and wisdom, customs and innovations gently enrich the storyline.
If you want to know what it feels like to be a midwife in the home setting, read this book.
Gail Tully, creator of Spinning Babies® and author of Changing Birth on Earth: A midwife and nurse’s guide to using physiology to avoid another unnecessary caesarean.
Bridget’s writing casts the birth spell magically over me so I may enter the darkened room of women’s work, where the primal smells of herbs, aromatic oils, honey, amniotic fluid, sweat, and love, transport me to Bethlehem between 6 and 4 BC, as two stars in the sky draw mysteriously together.
Bridget Supple’s word-medicine reminds me that we are all woven together, threads of many faiths, cultures, and traditions, mountains and oceans between us, yet we are but one swaddling cloth of humanity. How many thousands of laboring mothers have I kneeled beside to receive her baby earthside, yet the recounting always opens my heart and centers me in the here and now.
Bridget, thank you, for reminding me to take a heartbeat, gaze more often at the stars, walk home from birth in the rain, astonished by this blessed way of life, ancient and newborn.
Robin Lim, grandmother, midwife, founder of Yayasan Bumi Sehat health clinics, offering free prenatal care and birthing services in Indonesia. Author of After the Baby’s Birth, Wellness for Mothers, Ecology of Gentle Birth and Awakening Birth.
A beguiling, well-crafted and emotion-packed tale. This book engages your heart and takes it on a wild, sometimes sensuous and evocative ride into the very kernel of life in Bethlehem and the experience of its inhabitants, with a focus on women, on the birthgivers and birthkeepers. The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem has secured a place in the bookshelves of my heart’s inner sanctum as a classic to return to again and again, such is its power and beauty.
Paula Cleary, Go With the Flow doula and birth activist
The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem is a beautiful read. With immense sensitivity, it describes the birth of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the midwife who attended Mary, his mother, during her labour. While the Christmas story is two thousand years old and is ‘owned’ by Christians and non-believers across the world, this book reclaims the intimacy and pathos of Christ’s birth to a young mother in a town far away from where she lives. It hints at the significance of the baby, but its focus is on Mary and on the midwife and women who surround her and nurture her while she gives birth. The author, Bridget Supple, is well qualified to write this story having spent twenty years as an antenatal teacher and tireless advocate for the rights of birthing women and families. Readers of faith and those of no faith will, I am sure, enjoy it as much as I did.
Mary Nolan, emerita professor of perinatal education, University of Worcester
The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem is the story that has been waiting to be told. Bridget Supple conjures up the suppressed herstory of the midwife who attended Mary and transports me instantly to Roman occupied Bethlehem – I could almost smell the cooking fire, hear the bustling market and feel the desert heat. Anyone who has ever shared a birthspace will attest to the veracity of Supple’s descriptions, but for me, the power of this book is that it provides an almost unique window into the universal experience of both birthing people and their attendants. The hidden power and wisdom of birth is laid bare, reminding us that this rite of passage does not change and nor does the care we need and deserve. The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem has ancient wisdom that we forget at our peril. She speaks down the ages to me to keep fighting for twenty-first century Marys to have the same skilled, gentle and loving support.
Maddie McMahon, doula, educator, mentor, author and activist
This is a very important book. Telling the often overlooked tales of the women in perhaps the most famous story of all time. The book sweeps you along, riding the waves of birth as though you are in the room with the women, holding the faith and celebrating when the baby is born. A wonderful story that could be read every Christmas time. Especially resonant to a woman of faith and the many birth attendants of the world.
Nicola Mahdiyyah Goodall, traditional birth attendant
I loved this book. Bridget’s descriptions of the midwife’s life, community, and settings are beautifully intricate and elicit wonderful vivid images in one’s mind. I especially enjoyed the birth stories, waiting with baited breath as challenging births unfolded thanks to the midwife’s wisdom.
Dr Sophie Messager, perinatal educator, coach and healer, author of Why Postnatal Recovery Matters
I love this book! It lulled me gently into a world my bones remember; then left me weeping cool tears that washed clear my soul. The reading of the book was a ceremony in itself; a love story to the skilled hands and open hearts that have always welcomed the first breath and witnessed the last breath; for as long as humans have lived in community there have been the midwives.
Thank you, Bridget, for this gift of a book; I have read it three times each in one go and the impact has been no less for me with each reading.
Alexandra Derwen, author of Lost Rites – Ceremony and Ritual for Death and Dying and Lost Rites: The Community of Grief, founder and lead facilitator of the Sacred Circle end of life doula preparation
Bridget Supple weaves a beautiful tale of birth and midwives through this story about the birth of Jesus. She takes us into the birthing lives of the women of the region, whilst sharing the sacredness of the work of the midwife. A joy to read.
Mars Lord, Abuela Doulas
The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem is full of hands-on experience and passion. It’s a love song to the sacredness of birth and the craft and care of the midwife, as important today as it was 2000 years ago.
Jackie Singer, author of Birthrites, Rituals and Ceremonies for the Child-bearing Years
This book is such a joy to read, weaving birth wisdom into a fascinating story. Bridget Supple captures the beauty and power that midwife- and women-centred support can bring to a birth. The Birthkeeper of Bethlehem is a must read for any fans of Call the Midwife, anyone currently pregnant that would like to cocoon themselves in the power of birth, or any birth worker and midwife that wants to feel inspired – and pick up some tips to help their clients along the way! I will definitely be adding this book to our Recommended Reading List for our Birth Doula Training Programme.
Mary Tighe, founder DoulaCare Ireland
Meet the author: Bridget Supple
Bridget learnt her skills from some of the most influential traditional childbirth figures including Robin Lim (Bumi Sehat) for birth wisdom, Angelina Martinez Miranda (traditional midwifery), and Dr Rocio Alarcon from Ecuador (rebozo and Closing the Bones). She has attended workshops with some of the greats of childbirth such as Ina May Gaskin, Mary Cronk (breech workshop), Sheila Kitzinger (birth trauma workshop), Jean Sutton (optimal fetal positioning workshop), Andrea Robinson (Childbirth education), Gail Tully (Spinning babies).
Bridget lives in Shropshire with her husband and four children.