In 2010, Pam England wrote a series of pieces about ways in which we can change birth in our culture. The Birthing From Within leadership and blog team has chosen some of these pieces as inspiration and jumping-off points to create a new 12-part series about changing birth in our culture that reflects current understandings within the birth world as well as our current approaches and offerings as an organization. We will be sharing one piece for each month of 2019, both on the blog and in our monthly newsletters. We hope you enjoy this wonderful material, both as archival treasure and as new, innovative insights!
Earlier this year, BFW co-owner Nikki Shaheed wrote an article about Birth Art and why it’s such an important part of preparing for and recovering from the transformative experience of giving birth. Here at BFW, we definitely believe that bringing birth art processes into perinatal education is a key to changing birth in our culture.
Art-making in the childbearing year can do so many things for both parents and birth professionals — things that “traditional” childbirth education classes, doula trainings, and so on, often miss. Thoughtfully-mentored birth art processes in classes for parents and birth workers have the potential to…
- Bring internal stories, judgements, and expectations into the light, where they can be examined and integrated.
- Help us access our subconscious minds, where we may find instincts and coping skills that we had not known that we possessed.
- Give us practice in interacting with perinatal topics without using our intellectual, “book-learning” brains — which will probably not be accessible in labor.
- Give us practice feeling uncomfortable, out of our element, unsure what to do next, out of control, and (literally) messy – and then allow us to watch ourselves make it through anyway.
- Open us to the possibilities that the answers to our birth-related questions may exist within ourselves.
The overall effect is to give parents and birth professionals the opportunity to release behavior and thinking patterns informed by trauma and childhood conditioning, and to discover their own potential for finding and creating healthy, mature ways to navigate and support the surprises and transformations of the childbearing year.
“I am not artistic and was a little apprehensive about the art. But the incredible insights I had!! And also seeing my husband’s positive reactions and insights! I learned so much about his ideas and feelings about our upcoming birth. This class was eye-opening and transformational for both of us.” – a BFW parent
“Birth Art often brings surprises to parents and mentors alike. Having the experience of hearing a prompt and putting your pastel to the page can bring forward something that has been on your mind, or it might bring something entirely new. Knowing you are not required to show the art offers a freedom to let go of inhibition and to allow stick figures to tell your story. As the parent holds the prompt in mind, and allows the pastel to lead the way, it opens the door to a unique way of knowing oneself.” – a BFW mentor
“There are just some things you can communicate using your hands, without words, by reflecting. Birth art helped to awaken a part of me that I hadn’t been in touch with.” – a BFW parent
If you are a parent interested in exploring birth art in your childbearing year, reach out to a BFW mentor near you (or one far away, for a distance session!). If you are a birth professional interested in incorporating this powerful tool into your work with parents, check out our training programs. We look forward to exploring with you!
All photos by Andie Nantz.