Pictured (left to right), alongside Maternal Journal artwork at Pinderfields Hospital: Diane Saxon (The Art House Arts and Health Programme Manager), Rebecca Thomas (Lead Perinatal Specialist Midwife), June Lee (Maternal Journal Facilitator) and Dr Jessica Bradley (University of Sheffield Researcher and Evaluator).
The maternity team at the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust has partnered with The Art House, Wakefield, and the School of Education at the University of Sheffield to encourage residents to use art, writing and poetry to capture their pregnancy and post-natal journey, through the journaling movement, Maternal Journal.
Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, NHS midwife, artist, and founder of Maternal Journal, describes the process of this creative outlet, saying: “Maternal Journal is a movement to help find a way to process and express the new feelings and challenges we might experience, both physically and emotionally, through pregnancy, birth and new parenthood. Nurturing your creativity can be beneficial for your mental health and overall well-being and everyone can have a go - it’s all about the process.”
Thanks to a donation of art supplies from The Art House, women and birthing people attending Pinderfields Hospital for antenatal and postnatal appointments will be offered the opportunity to create their own pieces of art, using a variety of resources and tools to symbolise their individual journey.
Speaking of the gesture, Trust Director of Midwifery and Women’s Health, Dr Anne-Marie Henshaw, said: “We’re extremely grateful to The Art House for equipping us with the resources and training needed to offer Maternal Journal at Pinderfields. By offering Maternal Journal we hope to support people to boost their wellbeing, whilst capturing a moment in time.”
Diane Saxon, Arts and Health Programme Manager at The Art House said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer Maternal Journal as a creative activity at different venues across Wakefield district. Many of the women we have worked with have commented on its positive impact on their wellbeing and the difference it has made to their lives.”
The origins of this partnership date back to late 2021 when The Art House secured funds from Leeds Hospital Fund and NHS Charities Together for two years to deliver creative workshops post-pandemic. This funding benefitted various groups of participants, including perinatal women. Beyond this, in Spring 2023, a further year’s funding was secured from Wakefield Mental Health Alliance to deliver more perinatal journaling activities across the wider Wakefield district, in partnership with local community organisations.
Workshop attendees produced some beautiful pieces of artwork thanks to some funding from the University of Sheffield Faculty of Social Sciences, and framed as part of The Art House's funding. These have been donated to Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust for display within Pinderfields’ maternity department.
Researcher and evaluator Dr Jessica Bradley, of the University of Sheffield’s School of Education said: “Our research demonstrates the powerful role that journaling and community can play in supporting women and babies”.
Find out more at maternaljournal.org or @maternaljrnl across social media.