Maternal fear, loss and hope in Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown: Women-mothers performing lived maternity, using self-report in words and pictures, within the context of the CONNECT-from-HOME art therapy Zoom group | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Performing Maternities: Part 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1979
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1987

Abstract

This article offers a window onto the authoring and performing of lived maternity experiences by new mothers who met virtually and participated in group art therapy during the time of COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, between July and December 2020. The eight-week, face-to-face art therapy programme CONNECT for distressed mothers and babies was delivered for the first time via Zoom to participant mothers, each provisioned with a printed booklet and a pack of art materials. In weekly Zoom sessions, women-mothers were encouraged to contemplate and revisit their motherhood journeys through engagement in a series of art-based exercises facilitated by two experienced therapists. Through words and picture-making, mothers authored and represented their lived maternity experiences and, in turn, took to the Zoom stage to ‘show and tell’ the group audience just how maternity had played out for them, with the added anxiety of that uninvited guest at the party – COVID. A lived maternity group culture arose that permitted a redefinition of maternity; understanding and wisdom flourished as group members decided for themselves what the ‘new normal’ was for lived maternity in the time of COVID. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores showed a reduction in distress over the course for the participants. Post-group written feedback from participants about the CONNECT-from-HOME Zoom group revealed benefits including feeling less alone, feeling affirmed in a sense of struggle, wisdom gained in understanding past life experiences through reflection and group discussion, enjoying the process of art expression to give visual form to emotions/experiences and gaining understanding/wisdom from hearing other mothers tell about their motherhood journeys in words/pictures. Whilst several mothers were able to identify a positive impact on their mothering from the COVID pandemic, with their partner able to share in the early life of the baby, the vast majority of mothers performed fear and loss. Written feedback revealed largely negative impacts from the COVID pandemic and lockdown, specifically anxiety about health and reduced access to medical care and support. Lockdown elicited a sense of crisis, feelings of being ‘cheated’ (out of anticipated/wished-for motherhood experiences) and anger, anxiety, isolation, profound loss and disappointment alongside impact on energy, well-being, stress levels, mental health, self-esteem and relationships with baby, partner and extended family.

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2022-12-30
2024-03-01
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