Throughout a woman’s pregnancy, during the process of birth and at the postnatal stage, expecting or new mum often experience stress. Research indicates, for instance, that around 78% of women experience low-to-moderate antenatal psychosocial stress. A much smaller percentage (6%) of them, meanwhile, experienced high levels of stress. Experts in prenatal and postnatal care recommend a wide array of strategies that women can adopt to reduce stress and anxiety. These range from creating a detailed birth plan to embracing holistic activities like yoga and art therapy. You don’t have to have a natural talent at artistic endeavours or have a portfolio of work to benefit from creativity. Consider art therapy as a means to achieve a greater sense of calm, wellbeing, and mindfulness.
What Stressors Can You Experience at the Prenatal and Post-partum Stages?
Stressors during pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum stage are well-documented in scientific literature. Women can experience various intensified emotions that can result in symptoms of mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Many women, for instance, have voiced a fear about the birthing process and its effect on their bodies. Fear can be focused on labor and delivery pain, the health of the baby, possible complications, changes in one’s roles and sense of identity, and similar. These fears can be exacerbated if they have had a traumatic birth experience in the past. They need to be taken seriously because they can interfere with a mum’s ability to bond with her new baby.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a non-medication-based approach that is used to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression before and after childbirth. During art therapy sessions, a trained therapist leads women through a series of activities that can serve various aims—including the expression of ambivalent feelings about pregnancy, fears, and hopes. A typical session can involve creating a drawing, collage, or sculpture on a theme set by the therapist. Artistic creativity is as beneficial to absolute beginners as it is to seasoned artists. Often, during a session, a therapist will teach attendees handy techniques that can help them learn to draw everything from expressions to natural forms. Students can then hone their skills at home by consulting guides on how to sketch symbolic images such as butterflies, flowers, and other forms that can symbolize their own physical, mental, and spiritual transformation.
The Relief Artistic Creation Provides
Numerous studies have shown the many benefits that art therapy can provide throughout the various stages of pregnancy. A 2021 (Jeffs, D) review of studies has shown that art therapy has great potential to help heal the wounds caused by a fear of giving birth, post-partum depression, and big life changes. Art can reach the unconscious and indirectly address difficult emotions. It can also help people understand and express complicated emotions, such as ambivalent feelings about having a baby. It can aid in communication between a woman and her therapist, so both can create useful strategies to help combat fear and other emotions.
Art therapy is a powerful psychosocial approach to birth-related trauma, fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. Numerous studies have shown that it can help new mums identify and express difficult emotions. Doing so is an important first step in identifying and following strategies that can lead to greater joy and better bonding experiences with their babies.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Sara is now a freelance writer who pens pieces on parenting, and lifestyle but prior to this she worked as an holistic therapist and took a keen interest in diet and fitness. She lives with her partner and their daughter and a menagerie of pets