Baby showers can be a great way to gather with friends and accumulate the necessary baby stuff. But they often seem like clones of one another with the focus on silly games and diaper cakes. If you’re seeking something more to mark your pregnancy, consider a Blessingway as a celebrational option.
With its Native American (Navajo) roots, a Blessingway—or Mother Blessing, as it has come to be known in its American form—honors a woman in her journey toward motherhood.
What is a Blessingway?
Instead of emphasizing gifts and the unborn baby, a Blessingway focuses on the mother-to-be. How is she feeling? What does she need? It tends to be women-only—close friends and family of the pregnant woman—who gather together to offer support. This could mean sharing their own birth stories, offering emotional guidance or advice, or participating in some kind of ritual. The point is to honor the mom-to-be in her journey.
While my mom threw me the traditional baby shower, I also wanted something more spiritually connecting. My first (and only) pregnancy had been an amazing journey that I wished to commemorate with a more intentional celebration. I discovered the Blessingway from online research.
A Blessingway for a Couple
Even though Mother Blessings are meant for women, my husband also wanted to mark his momentous journey into fatherhood, and there seemed to be no parallel for men. So we crafted our own personalized gathering and—exactly seven years ago today—hosted a Blessingway in our Rhode Island home.
We carved two major parts into our celebration. Our general invitation described a Blessingway as “A final pre-birth gathering of friends. Share in food, drink and supportive energy. Please bring stories of encouragement, poetry or readings to share.” This was planned for 3:00 in the afternoon. Then we singled out a few friends to arrive a two hours earlier for the more intimate rituals.
Mike chose a few friends to join him in the primal rhythms of a drumming circle.
I invited four women into my bedroom to paint my belly with henna. Henna painting (becoming more popular in America) has a long tradition in Indian culture as a way of marking major life events. In Morocco, pregnant women in their seventh month seek out henna artists to paint symbols on their ankles that will protect mother and child during birth. (In some cultures, hennaing a women after birth is a way of keeping bad spirits away and making sure the woman does not resume household chores too soon!) Note: Be sure to purchase henna products that are safe for pregnancy. This means they must not use chemical dyes, additives, etc. I chose Henna Caravan’s Premium Pregnancy Kit, which uses 100% natural henna with lemon juice, sugar and lavender essential oil.
Afterwards, the rest of our friends arrived bearing food and beautiful poetry. Our main activity then was creating a labor necklace for me to wear in the hospital. Friends chose one from a selection of colorful beads, strung it onto the cord and wrote their birth wishes in a notebook. Even people who lived far away were able to choose a bead and send their wishes via mail. I wore the necklace throughout my labor, imagining it imbued with the energy and support of my family and friends.
The Navajo have a saying: “Whatever happens here on Earth must first be dreamed.” A Blessingway is a ceremony (or the dream) that is a prelude to a major life event.
- Have guests pamper you with a foot massage or hair brushing.
- Wear a crown of flowers created by the guests.
- Group activities: making soy candles, jewelry or a quilt.
- Make a plaster cast of your belly.
- Paint henna on your belly or hands and feet.
- Read poetry about motherhood and birthing.
- Light candles with wishes for your birth.
- Give every woman a red cord to wear around her wrist. When you go into labor, send out the word for women to cut their cords as a sign of unity.
- Ask guests to write their wishes for you to read once you’re in the hospital. This could be in a book, on fabric “flags” strung together, on hand-painted index cards, etc.
- Always incorporate food in the celebration, whether it’s a potluck or an array of simple, succulent snacks you prepare yourself.
- Book: Mother Rising
- Poems and readings
- Henna Caravan (this is where I ordered my pregnancy-safe henna ink)
- Functions of Childbirth and Post Partum Henna Traditions
- Pinterest ideas for a blessingway
- More ideas
This post is featured on Thank Goodness It’s Monday at NourishingJoy.com.
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