Birth Art: A Useful Doula Skill
Birth art may not be the first skill you think of to help women in childbirth, but art can offer your client many benefits. It allows women to explore fears, integrate the birth experience, and identify thoughts and feelings surrounding birth. It also allows a woman to tell her story in a different way. She can communicate believes, emotions, or memories in ways she wouldn’t be able to otherwise. This can help a doula understand her client more, and what her client may need during birth.
Purpose of art before and after birth:
- Brings overlooked resources and strengths
- Identifies obstacles and inhibitions
- Helps view birth in a different way
- Greater sense of bonding with their baby
- Helps to connect their pregnancy with the natural process of birth
- Allows women to understand the spiritual and psychological needs of birth
(from Pam England’s book Birthing From Within)
The Birth Project from the University of Derby found the following benefits for their art program:
- Art can increase women’s “awareness and understanding of their birth experiences.”
- Creating and reflecting on art can help validate stressful or traumatizing births.
- Creating birth art can help women work through stress surrounding birth.
- Creating art in a supportive group can help mothers transitioning to motherhood.
- Creating art in a supportive group can increase confidence and self-esteem.
So if your ready, go ahead and grab some art tools and have your clients try creating art projects to answer these questions (from Birthing From Within):
How do you see yourself as Pregnant Woman?
What is being pregnant like for you?
What is your fantasy of labor and birth?
Create an image that will help your body relax, open, and bring your baby into the world.
(You can find other ideas in the book).
Examples of some birth art from Amy Haderer-Swagman:
“In Buddhism they have a story for their perception of ‘precious human birth.’ Because being born a human being gives you the ability to do so much for your karma (both good and bad) it is seen as a precious opportunity to help your fellow man and possibly even attain enlightenment.
The story goes, imagine there is a turtle adrift at sea that only surfaces every 100 years. Now imagine there is a small ring in this vast sea. It is more likely for the turtle to accidentally poke its head through that ring than to be born a human being. I also incorporated vajras along the outside to signify wisdom and compassion (all important things to learn in this life) and lotus’. The lotus represents your Buddha nature. It rises from the mucky water and blooms pristine, reminding you that no matter what you inner nature, inner good, is always untarnished and that even people you have difficulty with have this good at their core.
Treasure the good work you can do with your life!”
TREE OF LIFE
“Many midwives think that the placenta looks like a tree of life. It’s interesting to think that every person on the face of the earth has been inside a mother, shared a placenta. I’ve been worried about my anemia lately and there’s something about how strong and vigorous the placenta is that appeals to me. The fact that a woman’s body is capable of growing an entire organ from scratch that nourishes another life and consists of so many nutrients, especially iron, is amazing to me!”