The Birth Project: Using the Arts to Explore Birth. Interim Report

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Hogan S

Year of Publication:

University of Derby

Publication Type:


Births can be traumatising for all involved; obstetricians and midwives are subject to very different stresses to the women they serve. Yet all those witnessing the birth (and death) of babies may also be traumatised – both professionals and birth-partners. Furthermore, hospital protocols, coupled with the unpredictability of birthing itself, can override what women want and expect in terms of a birth experience, leaving some women frankly in shock, which then can have a knock-on effect on infant development. The Birth Project uses the arts to explore this complex and emotive field and the impact of birth, not only on new mothers but on care professionals and birth-partners.

Throughout the course of the research, parents and birth workers have been given the opportunity to explore their experiences of compassion fatigue, stress, birth suffering and post-natal readjustments using the arts: drawing and painting, photography, photodiaries and art elicitation in participatory arts community workshops, primarily through art making and elucidation of the art works produced. Researchers have worked in collaboration with 16 women, 7 midwives and 1 birth worker, over the current course of the Birth Project, using a range of qualitative visual methods to produce knowledge and understanding of birth experiences from different perspectives.

This report outlines the findings from the project’s completed workshop series with mothers and also with birthing professionals. In the recruitment literature, women who had recently given birth were invited to workshops to explore that experience using visual methods. Findings from a preliminary analysis based on both groups with mothers would appear to support existing research that it is the quality of care and the nature of the relationship between the care provider and the women which is of crucial importance for her birthing experience, no matter where the birth takes place. It would also seem art groups are a valuable resource for women to make sense of, and understand their birthing experiences, as they potentially build self-awareness and self-confidence through the sharing of experience in the process of art making.

Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Research Purpose: Primary Research

Context: Community

Art Forms: Visual Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Hogan, S. (2016). The Birth Project: Using the Arts to Explore Birth Interim Report. Derby: University of Derby.