Everyone has heard of a baby shower, but have you heard of a blessingway? They aren’t as common as baby showers in the United States, but we feel they are just as wonderful and beneficial for the mother-to-be. Maybe even more so. And luckily they are becoming more popular.
So, what is a blessingway?
A blessingway is a sacred pre-birth ceremony that has traditionally been performed by Navajo people, and celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood. Now it’s recognized as a gathering of the expecting mother’s closest female friends and family that are there to build up her mind, body and soul in preparation for her journey to motherhood. The goal is to have her feel loved, recognize her strength, believe in her body and its ability to birth her baby, and feel confident for labor, birth and motherhood. It’s a time where the focus is not on gifts, but instead on nurturing and supporting the soon-to-be mom. She should feel empowered, strong and like a queen on her blessingway day. We feel that this ceremony is something that every expecting woman should have before giving birth. (source)
What do you do during a blessingway?
There is no one way to host a blessingway. There are many things that you can do. It just depends on the mother’s preferences and what her style is. Here are a few options to make it extra special for her:
1. Share positive and empowering birth stories.
I first recommend inviting positive people in your life like your closest friends and family to gather together and share positive birth stories. When my colleague and friend said that they wanted to host a blessingway for me, I was blown away. It meant so much to me that they wanted to host something that would help me feel more confident for my own home birth. When they asked me who I wanted to invite to my blessingway, I decided that I wanted to invite some of the women that I had helped during their births as their birth doula. I wanted to be surrounded by women who had given birth without pain medication and have them share their empowering stories so I could feel empowered as well for mine. Hearing words of encouragement and recognizing that women have been doing this forever makes you feel not as scared and not alone.
2. Have a few fun activities to do.
It’s always nice to have some activities to do to bring everyone together and celebrate the mother-to-be. These are just a few ideas:
- Make her a flower crown.
- Ask each guest to bring a beautiful flower with her to create a flower crown for the mother-to-be to wear during the ceremony. Have the guest explain why she chose that flower and have her say a prayer or well wish with that flower.
- Have a coloring project.
- This is fun to do together. Color the pages together and read out the the beautiful quotes on each page. Give all of these to the expecting mother at the end for her to have and read through the remainder of her pregnancy.
- Create birth affirmations cards or flags for the expectant mama.
- She can then can hang these up and read these while she is in labor. The positivity will help encourage her to press on.
- Make a bath soak with herbs and salt.
- This is a great gift for everyone to take home and relax and enjoy as they soak in their tub.
- Paint stones with encouraging and loving words.
- This is a fun art project. It’s also a loving memento that she can keep in a box or jar to remember the kind words that people feel about her.
- Create a birthing vision board.
- Get a board and post positive pictures, pictures of the expecting mother and friends, and add birthing affirmations, empowering words, to it. Also have the guests sign it as they enter. This is a great visual board and focal point for the guest of honor.
3. Pamper her.
A blessingway is all about feeling strong and beautiful during the final stages of pregnancy and during your birth. I think most women can agree that a little spa treatment goes a long way with that. If you can have someone come to provide mini facials, chair massage or manis and pedis for everyone or just the mother-to-be this will help relax her body and fill her soul.
4. Get a henna tattoo artist to paint her belly.
Henna belly art is a traditional practice that expectant women have been practicing for years. It’s filled with tons of symbolism and meaning. This is a common activity to do during a blessingway. Make sure that the mother-to-be wears something that she can easily expose her belly. The pregnant woman then gets to select the symbols and images that she would like painted on her belly to offer protection and celebration for herself and her baby. It’s like a prayer and a blessing to both mother and baby. The henna paste–often mixed with essential oils safe for pregnancy–are soothing, and the designs themselves are swirled with tons of meaning. The time spent applying henna is also an amazing opportunity for the expecting mom to become very still, and connect deeply with herself and baby and reflect on the miracle that is to come.
5. Enjoy some small bites.
I think every pregnant woman loves a good meal or snack. Provide some small treats and beverages that you all can enjoy while you sit together and love on the guest of honor. Make sure that you have non-alcoholic beverage options available as well!
6. Have a special bead or candle ceremony.
Ask the attendees to bring a special bead to create a necklace or bracelet for the mother to wear in the last few weeks of pregnancy and during birth. With each bead the guest shares a thought, prayer, or well wish for the birth. As the mom wears the bracelet she is reminded of the love, support and prayers surrounding her.
Another wonderful ceremony is the candle ceremony. Have small votive candles for the guests to have and one larger one for the mother of honor. Have each of your guests tell the story of how they know the expecting mother, share their positive birth story and words of encouragement that they have, as well as a blessing or prayer for the mom and baby. Then place a string around a both candles. The expecting mother will light her candle when she is in labor and will let one of the ladies know that she has lit her candle. Then that designated person will let the rest of the guests know so everyone can have their candles lit at the same time and pray for mother and baby while she is in labor.
I feel like we all should have a blessingway before we enter into childbirth and motherhood. Towards the end of pregnancy women can feel afraid, weak and unsure of themselves and baby’s upcoming birth. Having a sweet blessingway to remind her of how strong, powerful and how loved she is can be incredibly profound and impactful throughout the rest of her pregnancy, during her birth, and when she enters motherhood.