I sleep next to Naoise, together we inhale and exhale air through our lungs.

In the womb the baby inhales and exhales amniotic fluid.



About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more

Website: http://helensargeant.co.uk

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5 Responses to “Breathing together in our sleep”

  1. Eti

    I had this idea of making an installation using a recording of a newborn baby’s breathing. Maybe experienced in a darkened space, like when you are awake at night with a young baby listening to them breath, when the gaps between breaths sometimes seem so long, or the breath is so quiet that you can’t quite hear it and then you start searching for other signs of life.

    On another note I’m in bed now with my son who is a similar age to Naoise peacefully breathing by my side. So peaceful….

  2. Helen Sargeant

    What a beautiful idea for an installation. I recall that momentary anxiousness felt looking for breath while watching over a new born baby. When Syd was little he managed to get stuck under the duvet and had to swim up and out of the covers to breath. I pulled him out his body sweaty and gasping. It frightened me. It’s so easy to fall asleep when your breastfeeding throughout the night.

    It is so peaceful and calming to hear the rhythm of breath from my sleeping children.

    I found your comments here whilst sitting next to Naoise sleeping in his bed.

  3. Frances Earnshaw

    I have a struggling relationship with breathing. I had a major lung operation when I was a child, and everything leans over. My ribcage is like one of those coastal trees which lean in the wind.

    I used to breath with my daughter to get her to sleep. Sometimes I have to put microporous tape over my mouth at night, to force myself to breath through the nose. My daughter has got used to this weird habit.

    The foetus breathing amniotic fluid is one of the strange mysteries of life in the womb. It has been described as like being in a sea. Freud described the rare moments when as jittery beings we feel entirely at peace as “oceanic”. We are rocked in the ocean of the womb, breathing water.

    My friend Sam did not cut her daughter’s hair for the first four or five years of her life. When I asked her about it, she observed that the tips of the hair had grown in the amniotic fluid.

  4. Helen Sargeant

    Our wombs then are like small contained oceans. So much of life is water.

    I think that babies in the womb swallow a lot of their own hair through the amniotic fluid.
    I loved the downiness of my children’s skin when they were new borns. I used to chew off their finger nails rather than cut them with scissors. It is as if their nails grow before your eyes when they are little.
    This conversation also reminds me of meconium the tar like first poo of babies. Poo is so so fascinating, all its different colours and textures. From breath to poo, the bodies in’s and outs !!

  5. Claire

    at fifteen years and almost sixteen, I still watch for her breathing . . .


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