HOLDING AND NURTURING a body and soul inside your own body is not only physical and emotional, but also spiritual. Connecting with the little soul inside of you is something that I encourage all mothers to do from the minute their pregnancy is confirmed. The woman you start out as on your pregnancy journey is very different to the woman you’ll become at the end of your pregnancy. Your unborn baby has already changed you in so many ways. While your body gets ready to birth and nourish your baby once born, your spirit may take some time to catch up with what’s going to happen in your heart. This is where a blessingway can make such a difference.
WHAT IS A BLESSINGWAY?
A blessingway is a woman-focused celebration, where the emphasis is on the expectant mother. It’s the coming together of important women in the expectant mother’s life, who know her strengths, beauty, courage, dignity, and femininity, and support her through her metamorphosis as she approaches the day of going through the process of birth and bringing a new life into the world. A blessingway is about celebrating and honouring the mother and her journey to motherhood, rather than preparing the layette and the place in her home where her baby will be. Blessingways prepare a mother for the place her baby will take in her heart. The blessingway originates in a Native American (Navajo) tradition. It’s a sacred fertility rite. There are no rules on how you should conduct a blessingway. They can be religious or secular, multicultural or specific to a mother’s heritage, simple or elaborate, structured or relaxed. As long as the focus is on honouring the mother and her spirit and her transformation to motherhood, you’re on the right track.
WHAT TO DO AT A BLESSINGWAY
There are some rituals involved in blessingways. These would include making beaded bracelets or a necklace for the mother to wear during labour. The act of making the necklace would serve as a strong symbol of the strength we have as women coming together for this one special woman who is about to become a mother. Each woman at the ceremony would offer up a bead with perhaps a blessing or a wish for the mother. Braiding the mother’s hair with flowers is commonly done. Washing her feet with warm water that has essential oils added to it may be done. Burning sage, sharing birth stories by other mothers in the group, and giving gifts to the mother is part of the process. Another nice idea is lighting a large candle. Each woman passes her blessing or wish for the new mother as the candle is lit. This candle could serve as a focal point and a symbol for the mother during her labour – the words of her female friends and family would be in her mind and heart through the challenges that labour and birth will bring upon her. Other ideas include offering up prayers or poems that the mother can put in front of her as a way to stay empowered through labour; or to keep as a memento from the birth of her baby. Belling dancing, which is traditionally a dance by women for women, is a wonderful way for all to get in touch with their femininity and power. Making a belly cast is fun, as all the special women can leave their mark in the cast before it dries. Hand drums, bells and singing can be part of a blessingway. As one mother, Emily, put it, “For me, a baby shower is like a McDonalds Happy Meal. It’s fun, it fills a need and you get to keep a gift afterwards. But a blessingway is even better. It’s like a romantic date at a five-star restaurant – somehow all the perfect elements are combined so that it nourishes both the body and the soul.” Adapted from the book Blessingways by Shari Maser