Moving through motherhood: Co-designing dance for maternal wellbeing

PhD Thesis

Cluderay, E.R. 2022. Moving through motherhood: Co-designing dance for maternal wellbeing. PhD Thesis University of Derby Deprtament of Health, Psychology and Social Care
AuthorsCluderay, E.R.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This thesis contributes to the growing body of evidence discussing the use of participatory arts to contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes. The original research contained in this work discusses the use of arts-based interventions with a maternal population and seeks to understand how dance and movement might be used with first time mothers in the postnatal period, with the overarching research question being ‘What contribution might dance make to enhancing maternal wellbeing?’.

The research employed an iterative mixed methods approach, incorporating (i) a systematic review and meta synthesis exploring the evidence base for arts-based interventions across the perinatal period; (ii) a qualitative study utilising co-design, in which a group of first time mothers took part in focus groups and practical dance workshops; (iii) and a thematic analysis of the qualitative data from this process.

It was found that there is a lack of peer-reviewed research into the impact of arts-based interventions for a maternal population. Whilst the published research is of varying degrees of methodological rigour and reporting of data, some common themes around the social, psychological, and emotional benefits were identified using meta-synthesis. Thematic analysis from the co-design study highlighted three key challenges to wellbeing in the maternal period: searching for calm; motherhood threatens wellbeing; and baby takes over. Participants reported that engaging in a dance-based intervention in the postnatal period provided: an inner energy; a physical vocabulary; a means of conquering baby brain and forming sisterhood beyond baby. Finally, a blueprint for an online dance-based intervention to improve wellbeing in the postnatal period was created, featuring a suite of resources including online dance sessions, reflective journaling, peer support, and self-directed movement resources.

KeywordsMaternal health; Maternal wellbeing; Dance and health; Dance and wellbeing; Community dance practice; Participatory arts; Arts interventions; postnatal
PublisherCollege of Health, Psychology and Social Care (University of Derby)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Feb 2023
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