Where do babies come from? What religions teach about the origins of life

For many couples, making a baby is a holy act.

Where do babies come from? What religions teach about the origins of life

For many couples, making a baby isn't just a physical act; it's a spiritual one as well. What is God's role in the creation of human life? Well that depends on which faith tradition you follow.

Here's what some of the world's major religions teach about the start of life.


A number of Bible verses point to God's knowledge of a soul before conception and God's active role in the creation of a child.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." —Jeremiah 1:5

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." —Psalm 139

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." —Psalm 127:3


Teachings from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explain:

“We lived as spirit children of God in a premortal existence. There is no way to make sense out of life without a knowledge of the doctrine of premortal life.

“The idea that mortal birth is the beginning is preposterous. There is no way to explain life if you believe that. The notion that life ends with mortal death is ridiculous. There is no way to face life if you believe that. When we understand the doctrine of premortal life, then things fit together and make sense."


Catholic bioethicist and Fordham theology/ethics professor Charles Camosy says the Catholic church speaks using imagery to understand the origins of life:

“We use images rather than speak with precise, step-by-step language. I personally love the image in Genesis of God rolling some clay around in God's hands, putting it to his mouth, and 'breathing-in' the soul. It shows the level of intimacy God has with the creation of each one of us."

“The Catholic position on what happens (which is different from explaining how it happens) is that God infuses our soul or spirit into each one of us from the begin of our life as a new human animal, which is after fertilization of the egg by the sperm is complete and brand-new organism is present," Camosy says. “And it is that spirit which keeps us growing and living as the same animal until we die as that same animal. Indeed, the terms animate, animal, etc. refer to the spirit or soul (anima) which separates living things from things which are not living."

“How does that happen? We don't know. No one knows. All we have are images and metaphors to help us imagine it."


Buddhist scholar Robert Kritzer writes that the cycle of death and rebirth is a central concept in some branches of the faith, and the moment of conception is key.

“A number of Buddhist sūtras, meditation manuals and doctrinal texts... describe in various degrees of completeness the stages between one lifetime and the next," Kritzer says. “The process of rebirth begins at the moment of death in one life, continues through the intermediate existence or antarābhava, the moment of conception, and the period of gestation, and culminates in the moment of birth in the next life."


In Jewish law, although the human soul exists before birth, human life begins at birth, that is, at the time when the child is more than halfway emerged from the mother's body. Rabbi Goldie Milgram explains:

“The soul a baby will receive is traditionally understood to be pre-destined. The combining of the particular soul with the particular body it enters results in a human. An often-cited commentary relates that all the souls that will ever exist were 'created during the six days of Creation, and were in the Garden of Eden, and all were present at the giving of the Torah [at Sinai].' This perspective is reflected in Jeremiah 1:5: 'I knew you, before I formed you in the belly, before you left the womb.' Or as sometimes friends or family are known to say to small children, 'We knew you before you were even a twinkle in your parents' eyes."


The Qur'an describes the development of a fetus as a process with stages:

“God created you in stages." —71:14

“(God) creates you inside the bodies of your mothers, in stages, one after another." —39:6

Asma Uddin, founder of altMuslimah and director of strategy for the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom, explains, “Islamic teachings say that a child is assembled in the mother's womb during a 40-day period, after which it becomes a 'clot of thick blood' for a similar length of time. It is after that that God sends an angel who writes four things pre-determined by God: the child's deeds, his/her livelihood, the day he or she will die and whether or not he/she will be religiously blessed. At 120 days after conception, God breathes the soul into the child."

“Once the child is born, God tells us that it is our job as Muslim parents to raise and care for our children by bringing them up as moral, righteous Muslims," Uddin adds. “'Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock,' the Qur'an states."

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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