Planning A Blessingway
A Blessingway is a wonderful ritual for the mother-to-be. It celebrates her step in motherhood (or motherhood again!) Baby showers are a lot of fun and they are a wonderful way to gift new parents things they need for the baby. A blessingway, however, is a unique way to honor the mother.
During the gathering, friends of the mother come together to give her support and encouragement as she waits for labor to begin. It's a wonderful and affirming time for her.
Support doesn't stop with the Blessingway — mothers frequently pray for the mom each day until the baby arrives… or even light a candle when they hear she's in labor. This support can mean so much to a laboring woman.
Many believe the tradition was begun by Native Americans. It was a ritual to offer blessing at many life passages, not just pregnancy, but they have given us the wonderful name Blessingway.
It's usually a spiritual event on some level. It can purposely hold elements sacred to the mother's religion or it can simply be spiritual in the sense that all present are giving their spiritual and emotional support to the mother-in-waiting.
Who Should You Invite?
Most of the time a blessingway is specifically for women. You should consider your guest list carefully. Invite only those very close to the mother, or those older women that she looks up to. It may be best to work on the guest list with the mother.
The mother-to-be's own mother and grandmothers, aunts, and other female family members are good to look at first. Also look to her sisters, cousins, and sisters-in-law. She may also have daughters she wishes to attend.
Are there older women that she treasures? Good friends from high school or college that she would like to have invited? Of course invite current close friends.
Also see if her midwife, doula, or even female doctor should be on the list. By carefully deciding on the guest list you will be able to bring together a group of women who will empower and bless the mother.
Use these ideas or develop your own special ideas for blessing and nurturing your mother-to-be friend. You'll find even more ideas and resources for creating an amazing blessingway in the book Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers–Celebrating Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood (read my review).
Prayers, Poems, and Blessings: a traditional way to bless somebody is to say a prayer for them, to write and/or read a poem for them, or to say or find a special blessing for them. Something of this nature is ideal for a blessingway. Ask each participant to bring something they've found or written to bless the mother.
Compile the prayers/poems/blessings into a small, beautiful journal or notebook for the mother. If some prayers are created on the spot you can record with a small tape recorder or with your phone and later transcribe them to be given to the mother.
Beads: This is my favorite blessingway tradition. It's so simple and anybody can do this, even if they can't attend the blessingway. Have each person invited bring or send a bead that they've picked for the mother. The bead should be something the guest has picked with the mother in mind.
At the blessingway, string all the beads onto a cord for the mother to wear or have close during labor. Many mothers have said that these birth beads give them strength and focus during labor. It's a powerful and tangible way to show your love and the community support that surrounds the mother. I've treasured having my beads nearby at the births of my three babies.
Belly Cast: A belly cast is a fun activity for the blessingway. Many mothers enjoy having a belly cast done. It's a slightly messy and light-hearted activity that brings smiles to everyone. It also gives the mother a lovely keepsake of her body full of baby. Later the mom can decorate the belly cast however she likes, or she can leave it simple and untouched.
Belly Painting: Another fun activity is to paint the mother's belly. Use henna paints or any non-toxic (preferably natural) body paints. The mother may have a design she'd like, something of special significance. Talk it over with the mother beforehand. Henna paint works especially well because it could last until the birth, if the mother wants.
Lighting Candles: Lighting a candle at the blessingway is a lovely way to bring a sacred feel to the atmosphere. Or you can ask each guest to bring a candle to light during their blessing for the mother. Afterwards each guest can take her candle home and light it when she hears the mother is in labor, or the mother can keep the candles to light during her birthing time. The picture at the top of the page is my blessingway candles burning during the birth of my fourth child, the only light in the room during his birth!
Washing Feet and Brushing Hair: Washing a mother's feet in warm water gently scented by essential oils is a lovely way to show support for her. Many mothers also love having their hair brushed. This feminine activity is very soothing and empowering to the mother.
Make “Help” Lists: Though not truly part of the ceremony, consider having each guest write down a meal that they are committed to bringing for the mother after her baby is born. Alternately each guest can bring a pre-made frozen meal, if the mother has space in her freezer. Each guest could also sign up for a period of housework in the days after the baby is born.
You or another guest take responsibility for organizing and overseeing the help. The mother shouldn't have to do anything. At the blessingway tell her of your plans and assure her you have it all taken care of.
You'll be amazed how much this simple gift of food and time will bless the mother and her child. It's a gift given with a servant's heart, and it brings peace, love, and joy to the new family.
Look for more ideas to delight and pamper the mother-to-be. Save this time just for her – she is probably having a baby shower as well, and that's the time to focus on the baby.