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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birth Art

My first son, and I, still connected via umbilical cord.
  I remember the words of my abuelita as Akinyemi descended from me and I crowned, "Ya estas como tu foto, hija!".  I was in a full squat, with my grandmother, husband, and mother supporting me.  I was astonished at the power of myself- birthing EXACTLY in the same position as my birth art- down to the last detail.  In her natural wisdom, my grandmother always knows what to say, and those words gave me the extra energy I needed to push out my son...Calmly on the outside, with hysterical joy and confusion on the inside.

"Lalo's Birth", Drawing at 28 weeks gestation.

As artistically challenged as I am, I have not quit art therapy.  Birth art serves as evidence of the metaphysical power we have, as women, to materialize thoughts, desires, and goals, simply by fantasizing on paper. Digging deep within ourselves without inhibition or judgment, teaches us about ourselves, and facilitates deep healing required for an easier birth and postpartum experience.

Here is a short guide to Birth Art:

"Arbol de la Vida", by Jess at nine months.
Every day, we are inundated with social expectations and norms we women must abide by.  During labor especially, our identity, sexuality and language are often repressed- either by a hostile environment, or by self-inhibition.  Birth Art helps us move away from decision-making and opens our primal brain and heart.  This helps us transition to the state of mind so vital during labor. 

Anyone can make birth art.  Create birth art to open up the silence kept by linguistic, logical processes. We express thoughts, feelings, concerns, fantasies, and emotions creatively, instead.  Learning more about ourselves, and preparing for our ceremony, is more important than how our art actually looks. 

Belly painting as birth art helps connect with baby and celebrate mother's body.

"My Sister's Placenta", by Tots
You can use paper, canvas, clay, dioramas, belly casts, collages, paint, body art, sand, recycled items- anything you feel comfortable using to express yourself.  If you’re not an artist by trade, you’ll be surprised at how art can help heal your emotional stresses during pregnancy and postpartum.

Birth art after childbirth helps support and integrate us into parenthood. Traumatic births kept in silence will be examined and released for more clarity and management strategies.  Pride, anxiety, and other feelings and inner stresses that motherhood may bring about are proudly displayed as art, helping parents cope- rather than hide or feel ashamed about our emotions. 

You can get creative with a fresh placenta print.  The whole family can participate.

Birth art Prompts:

1. Tlazolteotl has come to take your filth, so that you may have a smooth, pure delivery. What does she take with her? How do you feel afterward?  How does baby feel?

2.  Create your ideal birth. Fantasize on paper- no matter how outrageous.  Include details like scents, what you are wearing and thinking, who is with you, backround noises, etc.

3.  Role reversal: Imagine you are your fetus. What does your world look, feel and sound like from inside your womb.  What flavors do you experience? Who's voices do you recognize, and what do they say?  What type of connection do you have with your mother? You can use icons, symbols, colors, words, phrases, etc. 

Blessings on your journey!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. what a beautiful idea! i'd like to do this with my comadre. :) do you know the story behind the indigenous painting at the top of your blog?

    1. Yes! Post up pictures, please. The painting is one of Tlazolteotl (Eater of filth) from the Codex Borgia. I think maybe I'll post the story ;). Thank you for reading, sharing, and responding.