“Wondrous Woman, Goddess full of life, with womb in bloom. You are a divine force bringing forth the next generation, and that is something worthy of honoring. Let me show you how adored you truly are.” -Bryn Huntpalmer
In todays world, baby showers have become quite the tradition to celebrate a baby on the way. Chances are, if you are a woman, you have attended such a gathering or had one of your own as you approached the end of your pregnancy. While a shower can be a lovely way to share excitement and joy for the mother, a baby shower typically focuses heavily on baby, gifts and registry purchases, sugary treats and organized games/activities that involve momma being on her feet and entertaining her guests. I had not been familiar with what a Blessingway was and upon further investigation discovered these beautiful pre-birth traditions are becoming very popular, and for good reason!
A Blessingway is an old Navajo ceremony, that celebrates a woman’s journey and rite of passage into motherhood. It is also a spiritual ceremony that occurs throughout the entire life cycle in the Navajo faith and culture. Because of this, I learned ‘Mother’s Blessing’ is the suggested term for a ceremony that is influenced, and respectful, of the Navajo tradition. Women gather together to empower momma, both emotionally and spiritually, and fill her cup with love, confidence and strength as she awaits the arrival of her baby earthside. My focus for this day was a calm, tranquil setting for Ellen and her friends to share blessings with one another, blessings onto baby, relinquish any fears, cleanse away any negative energies and surround her with love, strength and friendship. There is such a power when women come together to support each other, especially when the purpose is to share love and view birth as the sacred, empowering experience that it is.
While there is a growing trend of a Mother’s Blessing online, it was still difficult at times to find inspiration for this day that I spent months envisioning. Because of how special and magical it was, and how much I enjoyed putting it together, I thought I would share with you how I created the space and the inspiration behind the ceremonial activities that took place.
Create your space for the gathering by determining where you want people to sit, what you will be serving for food and drink, and what crafts/activities you will be doing. I found some recycled pallets that I used to create a floor table, and adorned it with flowers and candles. Guests sat on pillows around the table and momma got to sit in a chair at the head, like the queen she is. Our Mothers Blessing was in the afternoon, so while I did not serve a full lunch, I created some charcuterie boards filled with cheeses and meats, as well as a fresh fruit salad, vegetable platters and a few easy bites, so guests could snack while participating in the other actives.
- Serving infused water is a great offering at a mothers blessing, but adds extra flavor and color. Pinterest can provide a ton of inspiration for these waters. I choose an orange, blackberry, mint infusion.
- If your event will be taking place at a typical meal time, you could request each guest brings a healthy dish and have an abundance of food that way. Sharing love through cooking always feels special and is extra delicious.
- You could ask guests to bring a prepared freezer meal to stock the mothers freezer for postpartum. If there are certain dietary guidelines, ensure these are noted. This could be apart of the “what to bring” for the guests portion on your invite.
- If you have farmers markets in your area, you can get your hands on beautiful, in season flowers at a great price. I also had great luck finding tons of eucalyptus and greenery at my local Trader Joes. Whatever is in season is fun to use and makes for an easy decorative touch to your setting.
Ceremonial Rituals/Activities are what will make your blessing way your own and separate your gathering from traditional shower games and gift opening. There are a lot of different things you can do, depending on what feels special to you and what is important to the momma you are honoring. I included on my invitation a request that each guest bring a piece of string in their favorite color/texture, two beads that reminded them of Ellen, and that they fill out the attached card with an affirmation for her to have at her birth. There is no right or wrong way to host a Mothers Blessing, but here is what we did below if you are looking for some inspiration.
- Read a poem or blessing at the start of your gathering. You can find ones specifically related to birth, or whatever you feel called to read. Setting the intention of why we are gathering here, on this day, amongst these women, was important to me to setting the vibe and getting in the right mindset. Circling around the mother you could also take this time to share positive birth stories, mothering wisdom, or even meditate together.
- Create a labor/birth candle by asking each guest to tie their chosen string onto a pillar candle. Have the mother hold the candle lit and pass to each guest who can then recite a word that they wish for the mother at birth (strength, love, power, stillness etc). When it returns to the mother, she will blow it out. This candle will not be relit until the mother is in labor. It can then remain lit through her entire birth.
- Bead Ceremony can be stringing together a bracelet or necklace for the mother as a keepsake. I choose to purchase a beautiful dreamcatchers for Ellen from this Etsy shop and used that as our vessel to showcase each of the guests choosen beads. This was something for Ellen to take home with her to hang in babies room to remind her of the love and support she received from each woman today.
- Affirmation Rocks were a fun way to allow each guest to be creative and design something special for mommas birth pool, to surround her with during labor, or to add to babies nursery. You could also decorate a birth/prayer flag or affirmation banner; whatever you feel would be special to momma and most needed for her labor space.
- Henna/Belly Casting is another really special ritual that I was really excited to have at our gathering. This ritual is a beautiful way for momma to honor the wisdom and creative power of her body, as well as connect with her baby! Each guest was able to get something done as well and momma selected a design that was special to her. The henna itself takes quite a while, so guests ate, socialized and did crafts while momma was able to relax and have her belly decorated! What was so amazing was how crazy baby was dancing inside Ellen’s belly while she was getting her henna done!
- Take Home Candle along with a smudge stick was sent home with each guest so they could light a candle and send their own blessings to baby and momma when she goes into labor. Sending home something for the guests to cherish, as well as connect them to the birth full circle was important to me. Not only were we gathering to celebrate momma and her journey to motherhood, but the miracle of birth! So I wanted something for them to have for the day baby girl arrives.
It was such an honor to hold space for Ellen’s Mother Blessing. Giving birth was truly one of the most magical and scared experiences of my life, one that she witnessed as my doula, and I can’t wait for her to experience birth for herself in just a few short weeks. We can’t wait to meet sweet little B.
Birth Blessing by Natalie Evans
Close your eyes and breathe deep
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain
Imagine your feet
Toes curling into dirt
Think of yourself as rooted
Think of your place in the earth
How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named
A maternal lineage
That brought you to this place
Think of their birth stories
What you know, what you believe to be true
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom
Some may carry the memory of joy and transcendence
Each birth is a powerful experience
Each birth traces down to you.
Just as you pass this knowledge on to your baby
Understand that your birth is your own
It will be different from all others
Like the swirls in your thumb
Your birth will have a unique pattern
Unfolding with each contraction
Rising and falling like a newborns chest
This birth belongs to you
This birth is an opening
This birth is the end and a beginning
May this blessing of birth come to you without fear
May this blessing birth come to you with great understanding
May this blessing of birth make your hear soar
May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips
Blessings to you and your birth.