The art of making babies

By • Published: July 5th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

People who desire to have children but have difficulty getting pregnant often become distressed. Individual and group counseling has been shown to help reduce that emotional burden … and even increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. Now a new pilot study has found that art therapy might be an inexpensive, drug-free way to help ease the stress and strain associated with low fertility.

Even for couples without fertility problems, there is only a small window of opportunity to conceive a child in any given month. That means it could take a long time for a pregnancy to occur once the decision to have a baby has been made. About ten percent of couples have low fertility, and the cause can stem from the male partner, the female partner, or both.

Art therapy can help relieve stress because it helps people express their feelings when they can’t find the words to say. It can also bring hidden thoughts and emotions like guilt and frustration to the fore.

In one Canadian study, women who were having difficulty conceiving took part in weekly two-hour art therapy group courses. The women created different works of art and then examined them with a therapist. Drawings of the human figure helped the women express body-related emotions and family tree drawings helped them explore personal relationships and support systems. The group also collaborated on drawing different locales and buildings within a “town of hope.” Few materials were required, so the sessions were cheaply and easily administered.

Tests showed that after eight weeks, the women had lower levels of anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness compared with when they started. They described the course as insightful, relaxing, enjoyable and powerful.

And for couples struggling to conceive, anything that relieves stress paints a brighter picture in its own way.