40 Weeks

Roses open Slowly

I have a rosebush.  It’s pretty, yet very thorny.  I have sometimes cut a rose stem with buds on it before they are ripe to open.  In my kitchen in a vase, they will not open.  I read up on it and this is what one floral website wrote:

Cut a rose flower only after its sepals have opened and turned downward. Sepals are the flower parts that look like green petals. If the sepals are wrapped tightly around a cut rosebud, the flower will not open. If a rose flower is of a variety typically has many petals, then wait until a few rows of petals are open before cutting that rose. Another trick for determining whether a rose flower is ready to cut is to squeeze it gently. If it feels soft and gives a little, it will likely open. Buds that are as hard as marbles won’t open.


The rose analogy is a great visualization for labour prep.  Think of your whole female reproductive organs being like a rose bush.  The ‘sepals’ are like the cervix, thinning and coming forward.  As they soften and thin, they open.  This is called ‘effacement’.  This may take a few days, and mothers are generally unaware of the cervix coming forward and thinning. 

Then think of your cervix opening, slowly and softly, as you come close to your due date.  You may hear your health care provider say your cervix is ‘ripe’, meaning that it is of sufficient softness and thinness to begin to open (dilate) to what will become 10 cm at the time of birth. Again, some of this opening may be without you even noticing.  But as early labour contraction begins, that cervix is coming forward and getting ready to open, like the rose bud in the picture.  It has folds around it (the vulva) and when fully flanged it looks much like a rose.  Such a beautiful picture of our female bodies.  How marvellous and natural!


There is a beautiful verse from a love story book in the Bible. It’s about two lovers. It’s an analogy of how much God loves us. He calls himself a rose!

I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.  (Song of Songs 2:1) 

His love is ever opening, ever widening, to take in all of our pains, travails and sometimes even sorrows. 

Let his love be a warm, fragrant embrace to you as you gestate your baby, as you grow the human being within your body.  Then take that image of Jesus, the one who wore the crown of thorns on his head, which once had roses on it, and gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and me.  Your suffering will end, your labour will be over, and a new life begun as you birth your baby, soft and open like a rose.

Doula tip:

Ask your partner to bring a rose with you into labour, one that is either open or beginning to open.  Use this beautiful image of nature to open your mind and body.  Touch it, breathe in its fragrance, know that the thorns (hard labour) lead to the full bloom (your baby). 

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