What is Birth Art?

Birth Art is an intuitive visual representation of whatever is going on in the mother, partner, friend, etc. to prepare for the birth of a new baby.  It can be as abstract, interpretive, figurative, or literal as the artist decides to make it!  Contrary to popular belief, we all have the ability within us to create art if we get past our ego of “making it look perfect.”  What is important is the process, not necessarily the outcome!

An art teacher came home to his four year old son.  “Daddy,” he asked, “what do you do all day?”

The teacher replied, “I teach people how to create art.”  The boy replied, “You mean they forgot?!”

The Mind~

A friend, art therapist, and fellow doula Alahna Roach once told me that the state of mind you are in when you make art (your right brain) is the same part of your brain that you are in when you labor and give birth.  She had us do an exercise where we drew all the lines from our palm on a piece of paper without looking at the paper.  Then she came up to me and asked me what year it was, and for the life of me I couldn’t answer!  If anyone has given birth they know that there comes a time when all you can do is look quizzically at someone when they ask you a question because you’re so deep into that part of your mind.

Right Brain vs. Left Brain~

Left Brain: Looks at things logically, sequentially, rationally, analytically, and objectively.  It looks at parts instead of the whole picture.

Right Brain: Looks at things randomly, intuitively, holistically, subjectively, and synthesizes the whole.

So what I decided to do was to practice being in that state of mind as often as possible.  I’m also a big fan of Birthing From Within, a book and childbirth philosophy that presents childbirth preparation from a very internal, intuitive place.

Here is an excerpt from Pam England’s book by the same name:

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…

An active, gentle exploration process not only brings overlooked resources and strengths to conscious awareness, but identifies obstacles and inhibitions that might prevent you from using them.

Birth art doesn’t have to be pretty, colorful or carefully planned. It is as raw, honest and spontaneous as birth itself.

It is important to notice how you approach making art, because it is a metaphor for how you approach doing things in your life, especially things you are unfamiliar with, such as birthing. Do you say, “I don’t know how to do this!” and hesitate, or give up altogether (leaving it up to “the professionals”)? Do you find yourself comparing yourself and competing with others? Or can you be curious and say, “Let’s see what I can do!”?

Your art, like your labor, doesn’t have to be perfect. Just give it your best effort.

Examples of Birth Art: