I found this tonight which I think is interesting:
December 8th: Immaculate Conception of Maryis celebrated in many Latin countries as, according to Catholic doctrine, the day of the conception of the Virgin Mary. The doctrine says that God had preserved Mary from original sin, giving her his grace, the divine life of Jesus Christ.Read more at Suite101: Winter Holidays, Celebrate December!
This is actually referring to Mary's conception and birth but my mind immediately went to thinking about Christ's conception, and Mary's pregnancy with him. Fitting as its Christmas time and all.
We know that Christ wasn't actually born at Christmas time with most scholars thinking that he was actually born early to mid-Spring. Latter-day Saints believe he was born in April. Using the date, April 6, I thought it would be very cool to know the date of his conception AND birth.
If he had been born at 40 weeks gestation exactly, he would have been conceived in mid July. Using the birthing window that many women not ever faithful in their calculated due date, He may have been born between 37 weeks to be full term and 44 weeks at the outside, meaning he could have been conceived as early as mid June or as late as early August.
Wit that, I then ponder what those last few days of Mary's pregnancy was like based on those 2 scenarios.
First, birth between 37-39 weeks:
The Mary is compelled to go to Nazareth with Joseph to pay the taxes decreed by Cyrenius and she was full-term but not quite to 40 weeks. Maybe she was 37 or 38 weeks pregnant. She hopes that on the trip the baby will not be born and she can return to her home in Galilee to give birth after the tax collecting is done.
The long, arduous, dusty and dehydrating trip caused contractions to start before her due date. As she arrives in Nazareth and they are looking for an inn, she is having contractions and they are increasing in intensity and regularity. If she were me, she'd been freaking out a little. They settle into the stable and within a few hours, Christ is born into hers or Joseph's hands.
The other scenario, birth at due date or over due:
She's past her due date like the majority of first time moms, the baby hasn't been born yet and they have to get to Nazareth to obey the decree of the governor. She hopes that either the baby will wait until after they get back or that the baby can be born before they leave. In most mother's minds, anything is better than laboring on the back of a donkey or giving birth far from home without the presence of wise women: mother, aunts, sisters and cousins. She doesn't get her wish and contractions start during the trip. She's contracting while trying to find a place to birth her baby. The stable does the job and the Christ child is born there.
Either way, my heart goes out to this young girl who gave birth far from her family and home amongst animals and hay. Maybe she was as Zen about it as she is portrayed in the scriptures, but maybe that was a very stressful and upsetting situation for her to be in. Either way, I've been in both of the situations described above. And honestly, I think the over-due scenario would be worse.
Though its not mentioned, I do guess that Mary and Joseph would have been able to locate a midwife to attend the birth if they so chose. Though perhaps it was in the day when the midwife only was called when assistance was needed after some concern or complication arose. Whether Christ's birth was attended by a midwife or unassisted is a toss-up. The unassisted birthers like to claim that Christ was an unassisted birth, so for the sake of not knowing, I won't rain on their parade.
Alright, end of birth geek mode at Christmas time, that's what you get from a midwifery student...