I recently came across a wonderful tumbler blog through my twitter friend @edinbirth.
The 'Call the Midwife' Tumblog has an incredible range of images on pregnancy, birth and womanhood which I'm sure many of you will enjoy!
My 2 personal favourites are the images of a baby swimming (below) and the anatomical pants (above)! My mum has always loved to swim and took me swimming from being a very tiny tot; I have been a 100% water baby ever since! And the anatomical pants are just, well, hysterical...
I'm really happy to be able to share images like this as I believe they are really important in shaping our understanding of birth: modern, historical, and cross cultural.
This weekend I am attending the Birthlight annual conference which explores Maternal images and maternal representations before, during and after birth, which I am very excited about! Birthlight is an incredible organisation run by Cambridge-based anthropologist Francoise Freedman: you can read more about Birthlight here
Why do visual representations matter?
The way we view, and represent birth, and the female body has a powerful affect on our understanding of pregnancy and womanhood. Seeing is believing: what we see informs our brain, most notably our unconscious mind, and we subconsciously decode this 'visual information,' which goes on to contribute to our understanding of the world...
Before I became a Midwife/Doula/Antenatal teacher I did an arts degree at Durham University and I loved reading books such as John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" which explore the way in which visual images penetrate our understanding, and have a lasting impact on our interpretation of certain spheres.
"Birthing from within" is one of my all-time favourite birth preparation books, which explores some wonderful ways in which art techniques can be used in birth preparation, as visual images are used to inform our understanding about the processes of birth. This book includes many beautiful illustrations, and was initially lent to me by my inspirational friend and super-hero Midwife (aka Neighbourhood Midwife) Annie Francis, just before I became a Midwife. It has had a profound, and lasting, effect on my understanding of pregnancy, and alternative birth preparation methods and techniques.
Sheila Kitzinger's classic book "Rediscovering birth" is another favourite, which showcases many wonderful cross-cultural representations of women during childbirth, as well as a range of traditional birth art, sculptures, and other images from around the world. **Recommend!**
You can also see the REAL DEAL of some amazing sculptures and statuettes relating to womanhood and fertility IN REAL LIFE at the British Museum. These include ancient figurines (below left), which date back to several centuries BC! The Wellcome collection, on Euston Road, equally displays some incredible anatomical drawings and sculptures relating to pregnancy and childbirth (below right).
If you have any interesting birth art of your own or you have seen interesting related blogs elsewhere please do get in touch! I would love to showcase more here! Thanks : )