By Kathryn Valdal Fourie
Web Exclusive - June 12, 2006
While this might be a little known subject in most birthing circles, birth art has been used for centuries: to honor the mother and her transformation, to help women confront their fears with creative energy, and to help enrich the birth process by tapping deep inner resources. Today, you can create and explore your own birth art to do the same.
Whether through drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, dancing or singing, your birth art can help you understand how you envision birth at the deepest level. Like dreams, art can bring messages to the surface from the unconscious. "The realizations you have when making birth art, can help you during labor," says Pam England, who is a midwife and co-author of the acclaimed book Birthing from Within by England and Rob Horowitz. When it comes to birth, she explains that your art can reveal your "often overlooked resources and strengths" as well as identifying "obstacles and that might prevent you from using them".
What perceptions do you have about birth that might block the creative process of birth itself? Are you even aware of your own image of birth? According to England, "Few women acknowledge or even know what their own image of birth is. Yet, it is their images, whether ignored or acknowledged, that will determine how they prepare for and experience pregnancy and birth."
Birth art doesn't only have to be about birth preparation and self-discovery. It can also be fun for the artistic and the not-so-artistic mother- and father-to-be, not to mention a living memory for your unborn child in years to come. Here are some therapeutic and fun birth art ideas for you:
- Make a birth sculpture from clay.
- Paint your belly and take a photo. Remember to use safe paints such as non-toxic body paints or a natural henna "tattoo" kit. You could also buy a pregnancy belly art book and paint kit, like The Art of Belly Painting: Everything You Need to Make Your Pregnancy a Masterpiece by Nancy Price.
- Make a belly cast. You could use a Proud Body pregnancy belly cast kit, which is sold through retail outlets and online stores, such as Burlington Coat Factory Baby Depot Stores or Little Wonders.
- Write a pregnancy journal. You never know, it might even get published as a book, like Laura Wolf's Diary of a Mad Mother-to-be, or It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond by Martha Brockenbrough. Perhaps it could be submitted for inclusion in an anthology of shorter pregnancy and birth stories, such as Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul: 101 Stories to Inspire and Warm the Hearts of Soon-to-be Mothers by Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery, Nancy Mitchell Autio, Jack Canfield. If the thought of recording your experiences in a blank book is daunting, you could use an illustrated pregnancy journal such as Vicki Lovine's The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy Daily Diary or Anne Geddes' Pure: My Pregnancy Journal.
- Write your pregnancy or birth experience as an article and submit it to a pregnancy magazine.
- Draw, sculpt or write about how you see yourself as a pregnant woman. Then reflect on it a few days later.
- Draw, sculpt or write about your fantasy of labor and birth. Reread it a few days later, and then use it to tap into your resources and write a birth plan.
- Draw, sculpt or write about your fears and how you envision you will overcome them. Remember that fear can be overcome. You simply have to find your inner strength.
- Paint or draw "a room with a view", which is Pam England's exercise for envisioning your baby inside you. Use this to connect with your unborn child and prepare for labor and birth as