Becoming a mother is a beautiful rite of passage. It’s a transition of identity and finding out a new part of yourself or becoming someone new. It is learned, just as your baby learns what it means to be earth side and part of our world. To celebrate this rite of passage, we throw baby showers for the expecting mom-to-be. But this seems to me, a celebration of baby only, and not of the expecting mother. She is the one bringing life into the world and needs to be celebrated and reminded of how amazing her body is!
What is a Blessingway?
A Blessingway is just this, a celebration of an expecting mother and giving her strength and courage for her upcoming birth. It’s usually planned around 30 – 35 weeks in her pregnancy by a dear friend, sister, cousin, doula, partner, husband, anyone really, who wants to plan this celebration and make it a special event for her.
Traditionally, a Blessingway is “an old Navajo (native American) ceremony, which celebrates a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood” (bellybelly.com) But it has been gaining popularity in North America, Australia, and Europe, as a way to celebrate such a life changing event. Whether it’s the first baby, second, third, fourth… etc., it doesn’t matter. Each time, an expecting mother can have a Blessingway. It doesn’t matter either if it’s scheduled c-section, every mother-to-be needs love and encouragement bringing her baby earth side, however they arrive.
What do you do at a Blessingway?
First off, you have a feast! Make it a potluck and plan a theme. I love to do a vegan salad theme, so everyone feels nourished with full bellies and hearts. Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Mama,” has great recipe ideas in it! Of course, get someone to bring vegan treats too to have with tea after the feast.
Organize something special at your Blessingway to spoil the expecting mother with. I recommend getting a henna artist to paint her belly (with whatever she wishes and with henna that is safe for baby) and getting a flower crown made (make sure it’s live flowers!) Then while she relaxes in her flower crown and getting her belly painted, bring her plates of yummy food, and perhaps have a massage therapist on hand to give her feet a massage? Does this sound like a lovely treat? It is! It is about spoiling HER and reminding her she is loved and supported by her community.
How to plan a Blessingway?
1) Create a Facebook event or send out emails to those closest to the expecting mother (just women or men and women, it is up to you! I usually make the event kid-free (unless babies need their mothers), but having it kid-free helps with bringing the focus on the expecting mother (and without the beautiful chaos of kids!)
2) Make it a potluck (with a theme).
3) Get everyone to bring a bead for the Bead Ceremony (see below for details).
4) Get yarn or string, for the closing of the Blessingway (see below for details).
(These are just the ways that I know, but you can search for more ideas or create your own unique Blessingway)
What is a Bead Ceremony?
None of this celebration is religious by the way. It is simply a celebration that has parts to it, like a birthday party. We all expect singing, cake and then presents. So at a Blessingway, everyone brings a bead, and then we sit in a circle with the expecting mom (or around her) and give her a blessing for her birth, and then string it onto a necklace that she will WEAR at her birth (wherever that may be!) or perhaps she will just have it with her. These blessings are words of encouragement, strength, love, support – really any blessing you want to give the expecting mom for her upcoming birth. Some people are shy, and do not give a blessing, but say: “this bead signifies that I am 100% there for you, supporting you in this journey.” My cousins are into stones, so usually choose a stone bead (or two) that means something to them, and we always get emotional. But it doesn’t have to be!
How to close your Blessingway:
At the end of your Blessingway (they tend to be 2-3 hours long in length and on a weekend), close the celebration with a yarn ceremony. Basically, get everyone in a circle again, with the expecting mother, or she is in the middle. Everyone wraps (or double wraps) the yarn around their wrist, and passes it on to the person beside them, be sure not to cut the yarn until it is around everyone’s wrists! Then everyone can sit together, with a hand on the expecting mama, or chanting an Om (or three Oms together – this is what we did at both of my Blessingways, because hey, I am a yoga teacher and that connects with me). You can also sing or simply sit in silence or with music (maybe someone can sing or play guitar!?) the sky is the limit. This yarn around everyone’s wrist (including the expecting mother) symbolizes the baby’s umbilical cord, and everyone at her Blessingway wears it until the baby is born. When everyone leaves the Blessingway, and they look at the yarn, the idea is that they send warm thoughts to the expecting mom and her baby. Once baby arrives, everyone is notified so they can “cut the cord” too. (Some people put the yarn around their ankles in case they have a job where wearing a piece of yarn or string is not appropriate on the wrist).
From experience and my recent Blessingway for my second baby (who is due ANY DAY NOW, my due date was yesterday, January 23, 2019). I can tell you this celebration reminded me of how strong I am. I felt empowered, important, loved, and cherished by my friends and family – those present at the Blessingway, and those not (my Blessingway was with women only – but you can organize a Blessingway with whomever you want!). And if you have no one to throw one for you, or they feel the task is daunting, throw one for yourself and try it out! I am still wearing my piece of yarn and my necklace is ready to pop on (at my homebirth or to pack with if we go to the hospital). The point is, I feel supported, celebrated and empowered, both as a woman and as a mother. It is just what I needed to feel ready to give birth again.