WHAT IS A MOTHER’S BLESSING?:
A Mother’s Blessing, also known as a blessingway, is an opportunity to create a moment in time that celebrates and honors a pregnant woman and her journey into birth. This ritual is derived from a Navajo tradition that recognizes and honors the journey of pregnancy and the transition of birth as a momentous occasion in a woman’s life. It is a celebration of pregnancy and birth as a sacred and unique journey where the collective energy of loving women can help guide the mother through birth.
Unlike most cultures, we don’t find many rituals in American culture these days. There’s rarely a coming of age or naming ceremony. For many, weddings and funerals are the extent to rituals that they experience in their everyday lives. But there is power in ritual. It marks transition, it affirms important values, and it provides an opportunity to connect with women in a sacred place free of distractions. When women connect, we celebrate our femininity. And that subtle acknowledgement of a tribe is profound. Rituals are doorways between the spiritual and physical world. We experience a moment in time and then step back into our daily lives enriched by that experience.
CREATING THE PERFECT ENVIRONMENT:
Think about the important women in your life and who you want by your side as you celebrate your steps into childbirth and motherhood. This could include your mother, aunts, sisters, and the grandmothers, your closest girlfriends, your doula, and if it’s an option, even your midwife.
This is a celebration, so food is important. It’s best to have food ready for after the ceremony so it is not a distraction during the ceremony. Think about comfort food, after all you are pregnant, so pick food that you love!
The location and atmosphere you create for your ceremony is key! Some love the idea of a midday garden party or an evening celebration with candles. You want to think about how many people will be there and find the perfect spot that sets the tone for your ceremony.
There are many options for creating a space that feels sacred and special. This can be done by having all the guests take off their shoes, place their phones in a special basket (for no distractions), or giving all the guest floral crowns. You can create a special place by incorporating your favorite flowers or lighting the room with christmas lights. Also consider music for the background and diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle to enhance the experience.
PLANNING THE CEREMONY:
This is where you can be as creative as you like. It’s like planning your wedding ceremony. You can keep it traditional or you can add your own unique touches. You can make the ceremony as spiritual or as religious as you would like it to be. Think about what activities would make you feel special, loved, and prepared for childbirth and motherhood. Make this your own. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Statement of Intention.
Starting the ceremony with a statement of intention is a great way to let the guests know what to expect with this type of ceremony. Many may have never heard of a mother’s blessing, so explaining why you want to hold a celebration like this may be a great starting point. You could also include a reading or poem. Here is an example of an opening statement:
“Today we gather in gratitude. We are grateful for the new life we are about to welcome into this world. We are grateful for the presence of [Mother’s name] in our lives. We also gather in preparation. We intend to prepare [Mother’s name], giving her strength, support, and clarity in mind, body, and soul, for herself, for her birthing, and for her baby.”
The act of lighting a candle is a powerful way of signifying the start of a ceremony and it creates an atmosphere of reverence. One idea is for you to light the first candle and then have all the guest light their own candles from the your flame. The guest’s candles will be the ones they light once the you go into labor as a symbol of prayer and support. You could also ring a bell as a symbol of starting the ceremony.
If you happen to know your maternal lineage (your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.), it can be a very special touch to the ceremony to acknowledge the women who came before you. After all, you would not be here if they had not gone through childbirth. This can be done by having a family tree as part of the decorations or reading their names during the ceremony. Some women wear a special piece of jewelry that belonged to their mother or grandmother.
Pregnancy has a way of bringing up fears, especially in regards to childbirth. Having a moment in the ceremony to acknowledge and then release those fears is very powerful. You can write down a few fears before the ceremony. The more honest and vulnerable you are during this portion of the ceremony, the more meaningful and authentic the fear release will be. This can be done by writing them out and then ripping them up or burning them. Another is option is having your guests repeat a few lines after you state each fear:
“Release your fears, expectations, and distractions. May you now be free to focus your mind and heart on the present moment. Trust in the process, your body and baby know what to do. This is your baby’s birth story.”
Most Mother’s Blessings will include some form of birth affirmations. This can be done by having each guest write an affirmation and read it to you, have the guests decorate birth flags or rocks with a word of strength, or having each guest say a prayer or scripture over you. This is a great activity to follow a fear release, because it builds you up and encourages you for your upcoming birth.
Birth Alter or Necklace.
Another activity that can be included is creating a visual for you to have during labor, like creating a birthing affirmation flag or a birth alter. Each guest bring a bead and during the ceremony they can string it all together to form a necklace that you can wear during labor as a symbol that you are not alone. These physical mementoes can help center you as labor begins.
Pampering the Mother.
This ceremony is about celebrating you so what better way than pampering you and adorning you with beautiful things. Some might do a foot washing or a massage as a way of blessing the mother’s body. Physically laying hands on the mother is one way to show the community of support around her. Another option is painting your belly or decorating with henna. This is a way to honor the sacred home of the baby. Another activity might be brushing the mother’s hair and braiding it with flowers. This is about you, so think about what would make you feel honored and special.
A common activity found in Mother’s Blessings is creating yarn bracelets. You stand or sit in a circle and pass a ball of yarn around the circle, then cutting a piece off and tying a piece around your wrist. This string can serve as a reminder to think about the mother when she goes into labor. Some will take it off once the baby is born, others use the yarn to serve as a reminder to help you after delivery. They will take the yarn off once they have helped you postpartum.
Giving of Gifts.
Gifts are a big part of baby showers and there’s no reason gifts can’t be part of this ceremony. Some mother’s give a small gift to all their guests to honor them. Or you could have all the guests pitch in to help the mother pay for a birth or postpartum doula.
If you want to include readings in the ceremony, it’s not a bad idea to include some type of written program. That way guests can follow along and know what they are supposed to read. If the you have a partner that is interested, they could write a poem that is read at the ceremony.
Here are some ideas of Mother Blessing readings:
May you be blessed with an easy transition
from mother of one to mother of two.
May you be changed in all the ways
you hope to be changed.
May your body open easily and then heal.
May those surrounding you during birth guide you
through what’s coming.
May you know joy in bringing another soul to the world.
“I am grateful for this new being
who is small in body but great in Soul,
who has come into our midst as a gift.
May I be sensitive to the sacred
as I nurture and learn from this child.
Give me patience. Give me strength.
And grant me wisdom and love
to help my baby learn to sing her own song.”
“A woman in birth is at once her most powerful and most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed understands that she is stronger than she knows.”
– Marcie Macari
“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. Think of their birth stories,
What you know, what you believe to be true.
Realize that their births carry deep wisdom.
Each birth is a powerful experience, each birth traces down to you.
Just as you pass this knowledge onto 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 newborn’s chest,
This birth belongs to you.
This birth is the end and a beginning.
May this blessing of birth come to you without fear.
May this blessing of birth come to you with great understanding.
May this blessing of birth make your heart soar.
May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips”
– Natalie Evans
Birth requires a spiritual intention. A pregnant woman feels unlike anyone else on earth. And perhaps only a woman–perhaps only a mother–can truly understand this. The knowledge that a new being is growing inside of you creates immense joy and happiness. When consumed in birth world, women face the thin veil between life and death. Their baby is very much alive but not yet born. While physically it is no small feat to birth a child, spiritually a woman is shifting from housing two souls to now creating an individual life who will walk this earth. The depth of that experience, and the need for preparation, deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Let us know how you celebrated your journey into motherhood!
Originally posted at Nashville Doula Services