Maternal images and maternal representations before, during and after birth
Venue: Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
Abundant research on ‘maternal representations’, how women imagine and represent their pregnant bodies and their babies, has shown links with the quality of the mother-baby relationship in the first year after birth and even later on. Few studies, however, offer practical resources to help pregnant women and new mothers develop personal positive images of themselves with their babies.
This 6th Birthlight Cambridge Womb to World day conference aims to bring together a cross-section of researchers, medical and lay practitioners, artists and mothers for exploring and reflecting on the power of maternal imaginings on the experience of transition to motherhood in an increasingly visual and media-dominated world.
To which extent do images of birth, traumatic or ecstatic, impact women’s experiences? How do women reconcile their unique self-representations ‘from within’ with images out there? How can practitioners bridge the gap between studies of maternal representations and day-to-day pregnancy, maternity and postnatal care? What constitutes a ‘positive intervention’ in this field?
From its foundation, Birthlight has used techniques inspired from the yoga tradition and also inspired from Amazonian indigenous practices to help women use the power of the breath, turn inwards and create their own visualisations over time through changes in their bodies and selves. Recent neurophysiological research illuminates the aquanatal relaxation and ‘active bonding’ practices that we pioneered.
The day will offer an opportunity to network and share overlaps between yoga relaxation, guided self hypnosis and Buddhist-inspired ‘mindfulness’ in order to best facilitate the ‘birth of a mother’ in a spirit of inclusive care and support. Our day will consist on a morning of presentations by eminent researchers/practitioners, followed by an interactive focus on practical resources in the afternoon allowing plenty of time for discussion. There will also be a small exhibition of artists’ paintings and photographs in the Foyer and also a collection of drawings by local mothers to be, new mothers and children.