To the Amish, having children is like creating a beautiful Amish quilt. By patching the many pieces of cloth together to create a larger completed Amish quilt of many shapes and colors, you are making something whole out of many broken pieces. The Amish quilt can bring well needed money to the Amish family. The Amish quilt symbolizes the beauty that God brings to the world. The Amish quilt connects the generations together as Amish quilters pass on their Amish quilting skills to the future Amish quilters of the family. So too are children to the Amish community. By having many children you are creating a large family of many personalities and skills that are stronger together rather than alone. Amish children can produce more goods, symbolize the beauty that God can create, and are the only way that the Amish can truly carry on their long held traditions between the generations.
Most Amish families have anywhere from five to ten children per couple. One of the strongest held convictions of the Amish comes from their belief that a married couple should fill their home with a quiver of children. What this basically means is that couples should have as many children as God should want them to have without practicing any sort of birth control. With each new child comes a new member of the family who can help with chores, till the fields, produce Amish quilts, cook the meals, and produce grandchildren for future generations. Children are considered a joy and a welcome member of the family and having as many as possible is good for the family as well as the Amish community as a whole.
When a married couple becomes pregnant there is much joy and excitement amongst the family and everyone waits in anticipation for the new baby to arrive. However, the Amish do not throw baby showers and do not expect large amounts of new baby gifts with each new child. This is because the Amish do not like to focus on a single event or individual, so to shower someone with baby gifts would be considered too extravagant or unnecessary to the typical Amish person. This does not mean that there are no gifts given to the expectant mother. Many Amish grandmothers, mothers, sisters, or girlfriends of a pregnant Amish woman might make a special Amish quilt for the new baby to use when her or she arrives. The Amish mother herself might make a very special baby Amish quilt of varying designs or colors for each new child that is born. Amish grandfathers, fathers, brothers, or uncles might make an Amish cedar chest for a newborn baby girl or some handmade wooden toys for a newborn baby boy.
While most Amish mothers choose to have their babies at home or with a midwife, there are no restrictions on having a baby in a hospital or with the assistance of a medical doctor in most Amish communities. Some Amish women, particularly ones with high risk pregnancies due to a medical condition or age will have their babies in a hospital or have a medical doctor come to their home to help with the birth. Since most Amish families do not have general health insurance, they must pay for their medical services out of pocket. Some medical doctors who work in the Amish communities will give their Amish patients discounted rates in order to provide them access to modern medical assistance if needed. Oftentimes Amish families will repay their English medical doctors with handmade furniture, hand sewn Amish quilts, or barter physical labor in exchange for their medical assistance. Many a medical doctor has received a beautiful handmade Amish quilt that would sell for more than a thousand dollars at the market as a thank you for helping bring a new Amish baby into the world.
When Amish babies are born, there are no baptisms performed because the Amish only believe in baptizing people once they are over the age of sixteen and able to choose the Amish way of life willingly. While the Amish do not believe that you can get into heaven without being baptized, they do not want to baptize children because they only want members who choose to be Amish of their own accord rather than choosing for them at birth. This is because you are not technically considered a member of the Amish church until you are baptized and the Amish do believe in the power of free will. Once a person is baptized, they are expected to stay with the Amish church and live by the Amish rules for the rest of their lives. A person can choose to leave the Amish community before he or she is baptized and this is generally accepted by the community. However, if a person becomes baptized and then chooses to leave the Amish church and community, then they are shunned from Amish society because they have turned their back on God after they made a promise to serve him for the rest of their lives. So, the Amish choose not to baptize babies because they consider it a sin to leave the church once one is baptized, so they believe in giving each person a chance to decide to live Amish once they reach the age that they can make that decision on their own.
Much like the beautiful Amish quilt that is made by skilled Amish quilters to tie the entire Amish community together as a whole, so too do the children that are produced within the community. Just as each Amish quilt that is sold at market brings wealth to the family, each child that is born brings with it two strong hands that can help keep the family working and producing. An Amish quilt is an expression of the beauty that God brings to the world, just as a child is the ultimate expression of this beauty. So too do the many traditions and beliefs of the Amish way of life carry on from generation to generation as Amish quilters pass on their Amish quilting skills to future Amish quilters of the family. Without new babies to carry on these strongly held traditions and beliefs of the Amish, the Amish way of life would cease to exist