In our culture, most of us are very familiar with the idea of a Baby Shower. We gather together to celebrate this new life coming into the world, and buy clothes, diapers, carriers, and all the material things we think will assist the couple in caring for their little one. We play silly games, have finger sandwiches and blue or pink cake, and revel in the joy of this new life.
And, while the mother has a primary role in the celebration, the intent of the Baby Shower is to celebrate the baby. In all of this, where is the celebration of the mother? The celebration of her journey?
Well, that is where a Blessingway comes in!
Blessingways are an ancient Native American tradition, marking the transition of a woman from maiden to mother. It is a time where the mother to be is nurtured and honored by her community of women, a chance for her to relax and receive love. It is an opportunity for her close circle of friends and family to extend their reverence for the powerful experiences the mother has had, and will continue to have, throughout the childbearing year. This ceremony can be given to a woman each time she has a child, as with each child comes a new level of commitment and surrender.
At Moxie Midwifery, we provide a Blessingway for each of our clients, and it is a beautiful way to move into the last few weeks of pregnancy. All who gather to honor the mama come away feeling empowered and energized.
We have several activities that we choose from, when planning each Blessingway, and so they are all a little different. But, all Blessingways have five basic themes: sisterhood, reverence for the mother and her journey, empowerment, nurturing, and creativity.
If you would like to host a Blessingway for a friend or loved one, here are some ideas to get you started!
1. Nurture the mother to be with a foot bath, massage, and hair braiding. Women in our culture are not cared for enough, with feminine touch. Just combing a woman’s hair can bring her back to fond childhood memories of being nurtured by her mother, sisters, or friends. Adorn her hair with flowers, and offer a foot bath, filled with epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda, and essential oils of lavender, peppermint, or wild orange. And, give her a hand massage with some coconut oil. The best nurturing happens when all of the ladies in attendance are involved: one braiding her hair, one giving her a shoulder massage, two massaging each hand, and one washing her feet. Heaven!
2. Offer a bead ceremony. Go to a bead store, and hand select some special, colorful, fancy beads, all different from the next. Place them in a bowl, and pass the bowl around the circle. Each woman chooses a bead that will help to represent a one-word blessing she would like to offer the mama. Then, go around the circle, passing an elastic band to thread the beads, and ask each woman to explain to the mother her choice of bead and express her blessing. Be sure to write down who gave what blessing, and then provide that to the mom. Then, tie the band, to create a necklace, bracelet, or totem to give to the mom to use, to gain inspiration, during her labor, birth, and postpartum. Bead ceremonies are offered locally, at the Arizona Birth Network Birth Circles, every month. : ) www.azbirthnetwork.com
3. Hire a henna artist to come provide an artistic blessing to the mama. Henna is a brownish-red dye produced from a small bush, and has been used cosmetically and medicinally for thousands of years. Many mothers enjoy having beautiful henna designs drawn on their bellies, to celebrate their changing body. It is soothing and calming, while it is being applied, and it is believed to protect and bless the mother and child, and to help bring about an easy birth.
4. Share some inspirational poetry. Ask each woman to bring their favorite poem about pregnancy, labor, or motherhood, or an empowering quote. Get some magazines, scissors, glue sticks, and some construction paper, and have each woman paste her offering onto the paper and then decorate it with images or other words that support the message. Everyone can share their blessing, in a circle, and the papers can be bound together to create a mini-book for the mom to draw energy from, at her birth.
5. Create a community for the mom, to support her, after her birth. Have a sign-up sheet for bringing homemade meals to the family, in the weeks following the birth. Perhaps include household chores on the list, as well. Let the mama know that these will not be an imposition. She will not need to feel like she has to host or entertain, as these visits will be brief and service oriented. We have all had those friends or relatives who wanted to come over just to hold the baby… The mother needs to trust that our job will just be to help and let her get back to what she and the baby need most, the time and space to fall in love. : )