7 Nov 2023

Funded by KERN (King's Engaged Researcher Network) Maternal Journal is ‘an award-winning global community movement that uses creative journaling to boost wellbeing in pregnancy, birth and parenthood’. (Their latest offering is an impressive diverse parenting podcast series.)

We organised a bespoke, online session with Laura Godfrey-Isaacs as trainer. Our group of mothers, peer researchers and researchers was made up of 12 people who already all knew each other, a but there are many free-to-access sessions available that anyone with relevant interests may apply to attend. As well as learning about the practicalities of setting up and running a structured workshop, online or face-to-face, using one or more of the many mini-guides on the website, we were guided through doing a journalling and drawing session ourselves.

All we had to do, was draw around our hand, then add some words and decorations to illustrate what our hands do for us in our lives. Participants said;

The simple guide made it possible for me to move past feeling worried about ‘creating’ something and I found the experience enjoyable and affirming. It was moving to do this together and hear other members of the group describe their drawings. It was an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of this approach, so we can think together about how we could use this in participatory work in the future

Zoe Vowles, researcher midwife

Zoe Vowles, researcher and mother

I found the session incredibly moving and cathartic, but also lots of fun. Maternal Journalling is such a useful tool for bringing women together to help process their emotions and share their parenting journeys, and in doing so, provide collective peer support. I can see it offering something to all new mothers, not only women experiencing perinatal mental health issues.

Sarah Fisher, mother and Public Involvement Network member, researcher

Sarah Fisher Maternal journalling image of hand with text written around and inside

As a non-native English speaker I understand how difficult it is to express oneself freely and efficiently when the only means is language. That is why using other means of communication, such as photography, or the liberty of playing around with words in a non-conventional way can be truly liberating and much more effective

Vita Moltedo

Vita Moltedo, mother and peer researcher and ARC South London Public Research Panel member

Vita health journalling image of hand with text written inside

Afterwards we shared our amazingly different, and overlapping, creativity. These were happy or whimsical - and sometimes conflicted - feelings. There was much empathy and some laughter. Laura praised everyone’s efforts leaving us all feeling more open, connected with our feelings and with each other.

Acknowledgment: Thank you to Sarah Fisher and Vita Moltedo for agreeing to share their artwork.