This book review is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life, a beautiful book written by LDS women, for LDS women, that I was recently invited to read. As most of you know I’m not inclined to do book reviews here on WBMW. In fact, I don't really consider myself qualified. However, after an initial, brief encounter with The Gift of Giving Life, I knew this book would be one that I would be recommending to friends and family -- which is something I can do. As I consider the readers of my blog friends, I want to share with you, just a bit, of why I think this book is worthwhile. To give you an indicator of just how special I think this book is, I ordered four copies and gave each one of my daughters this book for Mother’s Day.

There are many contributors to The Gift of Giving Life -- which is, among other reasons, one of the elements that makes this book applicable to all women -- but the main author is Felice Austin, with Lani Axman, Heather Farrell, Robyn Allgood, Sheridan Ripley as co-authors. Preface by Lynn Callister PhD.

Partial description of The Gift of Giving Life:

Pregnancy and childbirth are not to be feared; they are divinely appointed processes that can be joyful, spiritual, and bring families closer to God.The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth offers something that no other pregnancy book has before–a spiritual look at pregnancy and birth by and for LDS women and other women of faith. Through moving stories women in the scriptures, women from early Latter-day Saint history, and dozens of modern mothers, The Gift of Giving Life assures readers that God cares deeply about the entire procreative process. 

The Gift of Giving Life does not advocate for any one type of birth or approach to prenatal care, rather it intends to unify our families and communities in regard to the sacredness of birth. We also aim to provide you with resources, information, and inspiration that you may not have had access to all in one place before.

For me personally, as a mother who has given birth to five children, naturally, was an immediate interest in the book, due to the title: The Gift of Giving Life. I have, for years, had some very intimate thoughts, about women and birth, that are deeply spiritual, and I believe doctrinally based. I’ve always known that my impressions were pure revelation from God. Mormon women see giving birth in a much different way than many outside of our faith. Birth is deeply spiritual and makes us co-creators with God in bringing forth spirits into mortality -- givers of life. 

In my reading thus far, my own personal revelations have been confirmed by other women who share similar thoughts, and have written them down. I know these thoughts are not everyday thoughts. They are sacred, and not the things, about giving life, that we often discuss. Until now.

These inspired women, who have put together this beautiful book, have done an exquisite work in compiling so many of the eternal truths about motherhood, that I feel can be such a blessing for more women to contemplate. Things I would like the mothers of my grandchildren to know more about.

Page after page, of this lovely book, brought back so many beautiful feelings, and memories, about the sacredness of giving birth, that for this, now Nana, also brought some tears of joy. The gift of giving life is the crowning blessing of being a woman. Whether you're just beginning this magical journey, or find yourself at the place where you can look back on the miraculous process that you've already passed, it is an experience that will forever change how a woman looks into, and toward eternity.

I came to find out about The Gift of Giving Life through Heather Farrell, one of the co-authors of the book. Heather also writes on Women in the Scriptures, a blog that I link to in my sidebar, and highly recommend. I asked Heather if she wouldn’t mind sharing a few thoughts about how she became involved with GOGL project:

"I got involved with The Gift of Giving Life project about three years ago. Right after I had my daughter I felt prompted to write a piece on my blog about Eve and childbirth. A few weeks after posting it I noticed that Felice Austin and Lani Axman both linked to it on their blogs. I saw that they were working together to collect stories from LDS women about their spiritual birth experiences. I submitted Rose's birth story (which is in the book) and after reading more on my blog they both felt prompted to invite me to collaborate with them.

When they first invited me to work on the book, I didn’t know how I was going to be useful. I’m not a midwife. I don’t write a birth blog. Then one day I realized a significant proportion of the stories of women in the scriptures are birth stories. Especially the women we have names for: Rebekah, Mary, Elizabeth–they’re all birth stories! I realized that’s what I could contribute to this book: I could tell their stories.

We hope our book will help people realize that birth is a spiritual experience. You’re bringing a child through the veil to the earth. All of us co-authors had natural births, so we started by wanting everyone to think like we do. But the Lord has led us in a different direction. We gathered stories—there are about 70 different voices in the book–from women who prayed, and they were supposed to have C-sections, or they were supposed to have epidurals; that was what was right for them. And other women prayed and they were supposed to have a home birth. We came to realize that birth is innately spiritual; it doesn’t matter how you do it. So the book doesn’t advocate for one type of birth.

Doing the book, I came to realize that God cares about birth, and He’ll give you guidance. You should pray about where to give birth. You should pray about how to give birth. You should pray while you’re giving birth! I think we’ve lost those things a bit in LDS culture. I did the historical research for the book and realized that LDS women used to have a different, more spiritual perspective on birth. LDS midwives would pray before they’d attend births. During the births they’d call on priesthood holders to give the mother a blessing if the birth wasn’t progressing. LDS women did washing and anointing before birth. As LDS women, we’ve lost that understanding that birth is not separate from your spiritual life."

I really hope that we've perked your interest enough to claim your own copy of this important book. Personally, I think this is a book that every LDS women, regardless of age, with or without children, should own. You can purchase The Gift of Giving Life on (You should know that I'm an Amazon affiliate, so by clicking on the link I do make a little bit from your purchase.)

And to the men, who have read this 'review' to the end, you can learn so much from this book, too. So, give it the woman in your life that has given you, or your children, life -- and perhaps you could sit down with her and read some of the inspired essays included in this book.

Kathryn Skaggs

You're also invited to visit  The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 -- as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth. You can also find GOGL on Facebook.

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