The maternity team at the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust has joined forces with The Art House in Wakefield and the School of Education at the University of Sheffield to encourage residents in utilizing art, writing, and poetry to document their pregnancy and post-natal experiences through the Maternal Journal movement.

Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, an NHS midwife, artist, and the creator of Maternal Journal, explains the essence of this creative outlet, stating, “Maternal Journal is a movement aimed at helping individuals process and articulate the new emotions and challenges that may arise, both physically and emotionally, during pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood. Nurturing one’s creativity can be advantageous for mental health and overall well-being, and everyone is welcome to participate – it’s all about the journey.”

Thanks to a donation of art supplies from The Art House, women and birthing individuals attending antenatal and postnatal appointments at Pinderfields Hospital will have the opportunity to craft their own artistic pieces, utilizing a range of materials and tools to symbolize their unique journeys.

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 roots of this collaboration trace back to late 2021 when The Art House secured funds from Leeds Hospital Fund and NHS Charities Together for a two-year initiative to conduct creative workshops post-pandemic. This funding catered to diverse participant groups, including perinatal women. Additionally, in Spring 2023, Wakefield Mental Health Alliance granted another year’s funding to deliver further perinatal journaling activities across the broader Wakefield district in collaboration with local community organizations.

Participants in these workshops produced aesthetically pleasing artworks, supported by funding from the University of Sheffield Faculty of Social Sciences, and framed as part of The Art House’s funding. These artworks have been generously donated to the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust for exhibition within Pinderfields’ maternity department.

Dr Jessica Bradley, a researcher and evaluator from the University of Sheffield’s School of Education, highlighted, “Our research underscores the impactful role that journaling and community engagement can play in supporting women and babies.”