Why Birth Art?

By Barrie Rein Thunemann ~ BFW Mentor, MA, ICCE, CD ~ Full Moon Birth

A core component of every Birthing From Within childbirth preparation class is a process called “Birth Art”. For many parents, when they hear that they’ll be making art in a childbirth class they may be confused. “Why are we making art, what does making art have anything to do with birthing a baby?” For many of us our last memories of art come from high school art classes with specific assignments, directions as to the right and wrong way to create and grades being given on the final product. It’s natural to feel a bit nervous when these type of memories are what we associate making art to be all about!

So why birth art? When Pam England, author of “Birthing From Within” and the creator of the Birthing From Within method of childbirth preparation, was contemplating how to design her classes she was faced with an interesting question. “How can I help new parents prepare to do something they have never done before?” In fact, that is a question most people who have taught childbirth preparation classes have asked themselves at one point or another. When a new couple or parent is facing labor, birth and parenting for the first time they are truly looking into the unknown. So how can we give new parents an experience in their childbirth classes that will help prepare them to meet the unknown? One of the ways that Birthing From Within does that in it’s classes is through the creation of birth art.

BA1So what is birth art? Well it’s not the kind of art we did in high school and it’s not the kind of art where we are trying to create a specific end product or image. It is a process whereby the participant allows herself to enter into the creative process and be surprised by the creation. It is focused on the process of making the art itself without regard as to what it will look like at the end. Oft-times when I lead parents in a birth art assignment I may say things to guide them like, “Start with a color you feel drawn to and see what the color wants to do on your paper”, or “What would you draw if you knew you couldn’t get it wrong”, or even “What would you draw if you weren’t afraid?”

When parents create birth art they are practising being in the present moment, figuring out what to do when they don’t know what to do, and accessing their creative, unconscious mind. These are all things women do in labor. By making birth art parents actually have the opportunity to practice the skills needed to navigate labor and birth and perhaps even, discover something new about themselves in the process.
Pam England writes in the book “Birthing From Within”:

“One kind of learning comes from books. But the learning necessary for you to participate  completely in your birth must come from you. In making birth art or journaling, just bringing an image to light can be surprisingly revealing (and sometimes healing). Listening to it speak to you can tell you even more. Dreams, reverie and art all carry messages from the unconscious…”

The birth of a new life is the ultimate act of creation, by making birth art prenatally parents get the opportunity to access their creative selves and gain some familiarity with the territory. When a Mom is in labor perhaps she can say to herself in that moment, “What can I do now in this moment where I don’t know what to do, what can I do next?” This is why we make birth art.

Now that you know this is not anything like your high school art class, perhaps it might be worth a try? What might you discover in the process?