by Jessi Vining
“AMANI Birth is a philosophy of natural birth and a program to educate people about assisting expectant mothers who wish to birth naturally. When we refer to AMANI in Arabic we say, ‘AMANI lil Welada Tabiaya, which means ‘wishes for natural birth.’ When we speak of natural birth, we mean a birth in which the mother is prepared, educated, supported and encouraged to birth without the interference of medicines, medical procedures, or any other unnatural influences. AMANI birth honors the birth experience itself as a natural, sacred act of worship and a display of trust in our Creator, Allah (SWT).”Aisha Al Hajjar, AMANI Birth
I first learned about the AMANI Birth (Assisting Mothers for Active, Natural, Instinctive Birth) as I was preparing to attend an international natural childbirth conference in Alexandria, Egypt. Aisha Al Hajjar, the founder of AMANI Birth, was one of the featured speakers and encouraged me to attend their doula and childbirth educator training while I was in town, and I am so glad that I did!
AMANI Birth truly has a unique and persuasive birth philosophy, and I walked out of the workshop feeling refreshed in my passion and commitment to helping families navigate their birth experiences from a physiologic perspective. In addition, because I am a birth worker who is not a Muslim, I found the curriculum to be an essential component in building cultural humility and Islamic faith literacy so that I could better understand and support clients who identify as Muslim.
Both Aisha’s book and curriculum are organized according to the pneumonic AMANI, with sections addressing 1. Assisting, 2. Mothers, 3. Active, 4. Natural, and 5. Instinctive. Breaking down childbirth information in this way allows for birth workers and parents alike to look at birth from many different perspectives while building a cohesive understanding of the process of supporting physiologic labor, birth and infant feeding.
This portion of the materials focuses on the support people (including partners, friends, family, doulas, and medical professionals) and best practices for supporting people in a natural birth experience. It reviews our collective global history moving away from the normal birth process and toward high intervention approaches to birth. One goal of AMANI Birth is to use evidence-based information to help the community around pregnant people understand how to provide support that doesn’t undermine natural processes, and that helps people find confidence and reassurance in the innate design of their bodies.
Specifically designed to put mothers front and center, AMANI Birth argues that pregnancy and birth are unique and special abilities that Allah has entrusted to people and that this should be met with a personal responsibility to prepare for and become educated about the process. As the Hadith (saying of the profit Mohammed) goes:
One day the Prophet noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I placed my trust in Allah.” At that, the Prophet said, “Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah.”
AMANI birth encourages parents to trust Allah for the outcome of the birth, but to be responsible to put safety measures in place, and to educate themselves about what the birth experience will require of them. This portion of the AMANI materials reviews the healthy design of pregnancy and birth, the rights and needs of infants within the Islamic tradition, and the postpartum recovery experience.
Taking inspiration from the Qur’an’s story of Maryam/Mary’s birth of Isa/Jesus, this portion of the AMANI materials focuses on encouraging parents to actively participate in the birth process in order to encourage a safe and physiologic birth. It reviews the basics of nutrition, exercise, birth consumerism (selecting a care provider wisely), coping with labor pains, movement and eating during labor and more!
This portion of the AMANI materials views birth through the lens that it is a normal biological process, designed by Allah to function smoothly most of the time. It reviews the evidence for the benefits of natural labor for mother and baby, the inherent risks present at every birth (as well as those introduced by unnecessary interventions), the physiology of birth pain and the benefits and risks of pain medication.
This final section reviews the ways in which Muslims (and all people) are encouraged to trust their instincts and the process of birth. Using Hawwa/Eve and Maryam/Mary as inspiration, it reviews the emotions, environment and hormones involved in the process and how each can influence the birth outcome. It also informs parents about the instinctive process of breastfeeding by providing the underlying education and understanding that many people in modern societies no longer receive.
AMANI Birth Trainings
AMANI Birth doula and childbirth educator trainings take place regularly around the globe, and there are currently affiliates in 26 different countries. The curriculum is available in Arabic, English, German and Indonesian. See the AMANI Birth website for upcoming training dates located in Dallas TX, Boston MA, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia (and more!).
The AMANI Birth book is available for purchase on amazon.com.
Jessi Vining is a Certified Professional Midwife licensed in Oregon. She feels passionate about all things reading, writing and birth related. She co-owns Wilder Midwifery, a bilingual, LGBTQ+ positive and gender inclusive homebirth practice.