Words are powerful. They play a big role in the way that people perceive the reality that is around them. If, when trying to communicate an idea or thought to someone, the wrong or ill conceived word is used, misunderstandings occur and offense can be taken.
In the case of pregnancy, words can mean a matter of life or death for the one hidden in the secret of his mother’s womb.
Not so long ago, when a woman became pregnant a term often used to describe the wonder of the new life within her was “with child”. What a neat little phrase! It speaks the truth of the reality of the life that is growing day by day, hidden from the world, tucked up warm and safe inside his mother.
Today, well meaning people talk about “expecting a baby”. The term suggests that the baby is not yet in existence, but that it will be when born. Unfortunately it is used widely in both secular society and within the Church. The term is a dangerous one for the pre-born child whose intrinsic value can be forgotten in people’s minds.
The words “with child” have the potential to change the perception of the general public towards pregnancy and the role of the mother (and father) from the very moment of conception.
It may only be a small step, but one that has the ability to remind people that a vulnerable child who needs to be loved, protected and nurtured exists, even if in secret.
So next time you have the opportunity to describe pregnancy, try using the words “with child” and see what happens!