intensely trivial

Birth art

I’ve been reading a great childbirth-preparation book called Birthing From Within, by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. I’m not finished with it yet, but I heartily recommend it to anyone pregnant or hoping to be.
Pam England started a childbirth preparation course called “Birthing from Within,” and this book is the text version of it. One of her core beliefs is that women already know what they need to know in order to birth a baby. In her classes, she draws out this knowledge by having them create birth art. The book shows many examples of birth art made by women in her classes and gives guidance for doing these works yourself.
I am inspired, even though I know extremely little about art. I’m not really planning to have any more babies, but I want to make some birth art! And how I wish I had done it before each of my babies was born. With the disclaimer that I am probably more introspective than more people, I still believe that giving birth helps to shape all mothers’ self-image, and that their self-image has a huge effect on how they experience birth. Self-image, sexuality, culture, family background, religion — they all interplay with each other to make up our experiences of birth.
As for me, I went into Birth #1 (Ellie’s) with some very strong beliefs about what it should be and how I should act. It didn’t go as planned. I can laugh about that now, but I wrestled with what it meant about me and what it meant about birth from the time I was in labor with Ellie until the day I gave birth to Jonathan, 21 months later. Just ask my doula, Heather, who was with me for both pregnancies and births. She’ll tell you how crazy I was about it all. šŸ™‚ I wish I’d drawn some pictures about my beliefs about birth and had the chance to talk to an even-thinking person about them. The thousands of words I wrote about it were unable to capture all the reality. I think creating some art would have helped.
Pam England hands her class participants a lump of clay and has them sculpt it into a birth figure of some kind. One of her ideas is to make a sort of hollow, almost like a cradle, and during labor, you can hold your sculpture and even rub it with your thumb as you ride out the contractions. I guess it’s kind of like a stress-ball idea, but with much more positive associations. I love that idea! You can also just shape it into an image that you want to focus on mentally as you do the work of labor, for example a beautiful, full figure of a pregnant woman (you). That would be a lot better than the embarrassment and self-loathing many pregnant women feel about their bodies. (Don’t even get me started on that.)
Until now, I’ve tended to think the best preparation for birth was to accumulate as much information as possible in order to make the right decisions for mothers and their babies. That’s just how I operate much of the time, and I think it’s an integral part of American culture. We think our brains and our bodies can do the work of birthing on their own — that is, with the help of almighty medicine. This book has given me many ideas for helping mothers come to grips with more than just the statistics and their anatomy. Hopefully I’ll know some more effective ways of helping them acknowledge the complex web of influences on their births.


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  1. * Keely says:

    I love this art idea, very unique to each pregnant mama, just as their birth will be. In childbirth class we make play dough cervixes, kinda the same kinda not.

    Posted 9 years, 2 months ago
  2. * Kate says:

    I read this book too. It was good, but I have read better. A good movie that gives you information without being pushy on having to do things one way or another is The Business of Being Born. If you want a good history of child birth, leaning towards why home is better and more options should be given is one called Pushed: The American Birth Experience.

    I hope you had a good Christmas.

    By the way, thanks for the links from one post to another on the Straight Talk posts. You might want to check the link on the second post to get to the third though, it takes you right back to the second post. I sent someone over here to read those posts and she got a lot out of them.

    Posted 9 years, 2 months ago

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