Like a baby shower is used to celebrate a new baby and gift the parents with the things they might need to raise baby, a blessingway ceremony is a way to honor the mom-to-be and to celebrate this very special moment in her life. We have put together some wonderful traditional and modern elements to help you plan a blessing way ceremony.
The blessingway that was once started as a Navajo tradition is now celebrated by many new mothers of different faiths and beliefs. It is a ceremony filled with honor and gratitude for the female body, its ability to carry and birth a child, and the women who have had a special impact on mom-to-be. During pregnancy and even after the birth of a new baby so much focus is placed on baby. It’s important not to forget to take time to pamper and appreciate the new mom. Blessingways are a wonderful opportunity for her to surround herself with inspirational, loving women to prepare herself for the birth of a new baby.
There are no rules for a blessingway. You can plan any array of activities and make the experience as traditional or modern as would be appropriate. The most important thing to remember is that this is a time to pamper and honor the mom-to-be, so make it all about her!
Beading a Birth Necklace
Invite the attendees to bring a special bead that represents a strength or virtue the mother possesses, or a wish they have for the newborn. Have the women take turns explaining what their bead represents as they place it on a string. As the hostess, you could add a birth bead like a birth belly bead, a goddess bead or a piece of Baltic amber. Mom can then wear these beads as a bracelet or necklace during labor to remind her of the women who are supporting her in this journey.
Scripture and Quotes
Ask everyone to bring a special scripture, poem, reading or quote that is encouraging to new mother. Take turns reading these special words to the mother. Later, they can be pasted to pretty paper and hung near the bed or crib. These will make wonderful reminders of why we push through the tough days. When mom is up in the middle of the night for hours, she can be surrounded with inspirational words to remember why she is suffering now, and that better days and sleep are sure to come.
Foot Baths and Massage
A blessingway is truly about pampering mom. A wonderful way to do this is a hot foot bath to sooth her aching feet. Add relaxing herbs and essential oils like lavender or peppermint to help ease mom’s sore muscles. Simply add the herbs, oils and hot water to a big bowl large enough for mom to comfortably place booth feet into and cover moms feet with a towel. While she’s relaxing, you can even encourage someone to rub her shoulders.
Henna and Belly Casting
Toward the end of pregnancy mom’s beautiful belly is in its full glory, but mom might not feel that way about it. Take the opportunity to make her feel beautiful with henna art. Hire a henna artist who has experience decorating bellies and sit in amazement as she turns that big round belly into a beautiful work of art. Many moms love having henna done just before birth as it gives them something to focus on during labor.
Now is also a good time to do a belly casting. But if you’d like the ladies involved to decorate the belly cast be sure to have it done ahead of time, since this can be a time consuming process. Consider a belly casting kit like this one from Pearhead to make this project even easier.
A traditional parting gift for attendees of a blessingway is a candle. The women are encouraged to light the candle when they hear mom has gone into labor and will be reminded to think of her during her labor process.
If your honored mom-to-be is more of a private laborer, consider lighting candles at the blessingway ceremony during the readings or even as guests arrive as a visual for mom to see the support she has behind her on this journey.
The last ceremony of the event is traditionally a string ceremony. The women all sit or stand in a circle and a length of cotton string is wound around each women’s wrist, binding them all together with the one long length of string. This is to signify the group support for the mom in the last weeks of her journey to motherhood. The string is then cut between each woman and worn as a bracelet until the baby is born.
Art for the Nursery
A modern activity could be as simple as decorating art for the nursery. Assign each guest a letter of the alphabet (or 2 or 3 if needed) and have them bring their letter in any form to be embellished and decorated and later hung on the nursery wall. Provide as many different art supplies as you can, fabric scraps, string, glitter, and pretty paper and see what the guests come up with.
Organize Postnatal Help
Another non-traditional element to a blessingway could be as simple as organizing postnatal help. Of course when baby is here everyone wants to rush over to visit and cuddle the new baby as soon as possible but it’s best for mom to have limited visits each day. Arrange meals so that mom and family can be nourished and taken care of for as long as possible after baby is born. It’s wonderful to involve mom in this planning because she knows what her family likes to eat. Utilize a website like Take Them a Meal to keep meals organized.
Make arrangements also for short visits. Keep visits around 15 minutes in the first couple weeks after birth. Take the time now to let guests know how to best serve and care for mom in the days after baby is born. Maybe she wants you to hold the baby so she can take a shower, but more likely she wants to nap with the baby while you wash her dishes or fold and put away some laundry. Mom might not want to ask for this type of help straight out, but it’s what she needs.
There aren’t many times in a women’s life that she will be surrounded with the women she loves most simply to feel honored and be told how loved and important she is. The blessingway can be a spiritual and emotional experience for all involved, so don’t be surprised if there are lots of tears. Remember, this is a time to honor the mom so if she wouldn’t be comfortable with the more traditional elements simply replace them with modern ones. Enjoy this time of friends and family, bonded women and of course lots of delicious food.
Photo Credit: With a Red Bird on My Shoulder