The Art and Soul of Midwifery: Creativity in Practice, Education and Research
Edited by Lorna Davies

[2007, Churchill Livingstone; 264 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 98, Summer 2011, © 2011, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Sarah Harwell.]

Editor Lorna Davies has put together a diverse collection of writings that thoughtfully explore the intersections of art, creativity and midwifery. Birth art, craft, theater, dance and poetry are some of the art forms explored in-depth, with entire chapters also dedicated to the depiction of midwives in 20th century literature and visual arts.

Acknowledging the paradigm shift taking place in the professional fields of pre and perinatal care, the intention of the book, as Davies explains it, is to explore how the application of creative arts, “in practice, education and research…may help to enhance the physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual well-being of the childbearing community…” This is no small task and chapter contributors meet it head-on.

The range of creative modalities covered in the book relate to all stages of childbearing, from prenatal preparation to postnatal and antenal recovery. Many chapters include a multi-disciplinary review of current research on their specific topics, and explore the practical application of each art in midwifery education and practice from a holistic perspective. In fact, the last chapter of the book is chalked full of exercises that midwives, doulas and childbirth educators—even parents—can use in a number of contexts. If midwifery students in university programs are not reading this book, they should be.

Contributors include Sara Wickham, Tricia Anderson, Pam England and Janet Bass, to name a few, and though included resources have a decidedly British slant, the ideas are universal. Color photographs, extensive reference lists and further reading suggestions make The Art and Soul of Midwifery an excellent book to have at hand. Although its focus is directed towards midwives and midwifery education, anyone interested in the creative arts will find useful information that cast the arts through the lens of birth.

This book reminds everyone that creativity is a central, critical aspect of living and while it finds expression in countless mediums, none is so perfect as birth itself.

Reviewer Sarah Harwell is the managing editor of Midwifery Today magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is interested in the therapeutic aspects of writing, poetry in particular, to support people through major life transitions, including the passage to motherhood.

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