Imagine you are pregnant, your baby due very soon and you are surrounded by your closest friends. They gather to honor you and the incredible rite of passage you are going through. They pamper you with a healing foot bath, massage your hands and feet, crown you with flowers, and offer you their blessings for your upcoming birth…
This is a blessingway, and more and more pregnant women are asking their friends to plan this empowering ceremony instead of, or in addition to a traditional baby shower. It’s a celebration of life and love, pregnancy and motherhood. It has evolved from a traditional Navajo ceremony concerned with healing, creation, harmony and peace to a ritual of empowerment and faith. In appreciation for and honor of new mothers and their transition into this new role, the purpose is to give them strength and support while affirming that they will have a beautiful birth experience.
Here are some tips and ideas to plan a blessingway for the special pregnant mama in your life…
- While a blessingway is as unique as the woman being honored, typically it has one or more of the following activities:
- A circle of introductions, often by maternal lineage (I am Terri, daughter of Kelly, granddaughter of Carolyn ans Marilyn etc.)
- A pampering herbal foot bath for the mother, followed by a “dry” foot bath of cornmeal and massage oil.
- The mother is symbolically crowned with a flower circlet or may have her hair brushed, and flowers woven into her hair.
- A henna design or body paint may be drawn on her belly.
- A belly cast can be made, or decorated.
- A birthing necklace is strung with beads from each guest
- Symbolic gifts may be given to the mother, such as a key to open her heart to the new baby, a special herbal bath for postpartum healing, or gift certificates to a local restaurant that delivers.
- To end the ceremony, all women can gather to weave a web bracelet, and are given candles to light when the pregnant women goes into labor.
These are just a sample of possible activities and rituals that may take place during a blessingway. Each ceremony is planned specifically for the individual pregnant mama, and personalized just for her. Other than a beginning and ending, the entire blessingway is up to you!
Can you have a baby shower and a blessingway?
Yes! Baby showers can serve a useful purpose, which is receiving clothes and items for the baby. As a blessingway serves a completely different purpose, you can have both! In fact, a short blessingway ceremony at a baby shower is becoming quite popular. Simply plan the activities of a blessingway for the shower, and skip the games.
Is it appropriate to have a blessingway for each pregnancy and baby?
Yes! Each pregnancy is unique, and becoming a mother of two, three or more is a significant change. All pregnant mothers deserve to be honored and pampered. Blessingway gifts are symbolic and cannot be interpreted as a “grab” for gifts.
When during the pregnancy should a blessingway be planned?
As late as possible in the last month of pregnancy. Blessingways can be very powerful, and often the mother begins her birth journey soon after the ceremony. It is best to plan the blessingway at 37 weeks or beyond. Of course this leaves the possibility that the birth may happen before the blessing, but in that case the celebration can be changed to a new mother blessing.
Guests: A blessingway is an intimate celebration and it’s best to invite a small number of very close female friends and relatives of the mama-to-be. During the ceremony, the mother is usually given the opportunity to express any fears she may have about her impending birth and parenting, and needs to feel safe in order to do so. She must trust all of the women sharing the circle, so make sure the pregnant mama is comfortable with the guests. She may or may not want her mother or other relatives there to share her experience, when in doubt, ask! This is not the time to invite her mother’s friends or mere acquaintances.
Location: Where you hold the ceremony can be very important. If the mama is planning a home birth, her home is the ideal place to create space needed for a blessingway and subsequent birth. On the other hand, perhaps the mama-to-be would rather go to someone else’s house to get away for the afternoon where she wouldn’t feel obligated to clean up or help in any way. Wherever the blessingway is held, try to find a space which will feel comfortable and safe from others and any distractions.
Time of Day: Will you have an afternoon celebration, a ceremony at dusk with candlelight, or an all day affair to celebrate? Many blessingways take place late afternoon with the making of a belly cast and informal activities, include a potluck dinner and then a more formal ceremony at dusk.
Decorations: This will depend on the pregnant mama, and her unique style and taste. Usually blessingway decorations include more natural items such as candles and flowers.You may wish to create an altar with candles, perhaps with shades of green to represent mother nature, or maybe the pureness of white appeals to you. You could also include blue for a water birth, or bright red which represents fertility, flowers of all types and colors, or maybe just 10 centimeter flowers to represent dilation in labor.
Music: You can play soft music in the background during the ceremony if you like. Enya is popular, or Celtic or classical music is also nice.
There is no right, or wrong way to plan a blessingway. Stay focused on the mama-to-be and she will remember this ceremony for all of her life, remember that you planned it for her, and will hold tight to the memories of the day’s event as she embarks on her journey through motherhood and beyond!
Mother Rising Book- www.blessingwaybook.com
Sample Blessingway Outlines- www.blessingwaybook.com/outlines/
Belly Casting and Henna Kits- www.proudbody.com
Blessingway Video www.birthsoul.com/blessingways.htm
This post was written by Terri Babin, author of the Eco-Crazy Mom blog. Terri is a mother of four, birth doula and green living promoter committed to helping moms raise their children in a natural, eco-friendly environment. For more great posts like this one, please visit www.EcoCrazyMom.com. You can also follow Eco-Crazy Mom on Facebook & Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest eco-crazy news, tips giveaways and more!