A Blessingway or Mother Blessing has been described as an alternative to the usual baby shower – which is focused on the baby. Whereas a Mother Blessing is a mother focused celebration of the woman as she passes into motherhood.
It’s a preparation and celebration of the rite of passage that is birth.
It is a gathering of women, and sometimes men are invited too, creating a circle of sisterhood and strength around the woman. Physically at the time of the mother blessing, she witnesses and feels the love and support of those close to her, often women who themselves have birthed babies, and passed through this doorway into motherhood. But also she knows they will cast a circle around her during her labour and birth, from a distance, yet together in spirit, sending waves of love and power to her.
“Birth has always been, and still is, a momentous event, attended by great hopes as well as genuine risks, and one in which people call on a variety of powers for support and protection…
…such a calling in of the spirit is still possible today, whether the birth is at home in a candle-lit pool, or by Caesarean in a brightly lit hospital…”
Why do we need Mother Blessing ceremonies?
It is time we reclaimed pregnancy and birth as a rite of passage that should be celebrated and honoured, rather than a time of clinical risk managing or a consumer driven experience. We benefit from a time when pregnancy is safer than ever for mothers and babies, yet the perception of fear amongst women birthing today seems to be growing in my experience as a midwife over 18 years. This is not just about supporting a woman’s belief in her ability to birth her baby vaginally, but for all women, whatever path they choose, or their birth takes. It is equally empowering for a mother about to undertake a planned caesarean as for a woman birthing at home. Knowing you are not alone, and your circle of women are there waiting and breathing with you, can be an incredible source of strength.
When I have attended Mother Blessings they were so powerful because you could really feel the love for her filling the room. She was the centre of everyone’s attention for that day, and hopefully really felt all that love and strength that was being passed across to her. The energy and power in the room is incredible.
I definitely feel this was how birth should be prepared for. Women coming together, showing strength and belief in the process of birth and motherhood.
Creating a Mother Blessing
You can make the experience as simple as sharing a meal, with the ribbon wristlets (see below), or weave in ceremony and ritual, incorporating an essence of spirituality, whatever feels right for the woman in the centre.
- Take one pregnant mama nearly ready to meet her baby.
- Bring together her closest women tribe for the date ideally before 37 weeks.
- Tell everyone to bring some food to share – wholesome and nourishing for a mother to be
- Bake something special to share together
You will need
- A few metres of red ribbon.
- A few metres of golden twine
- Henna for some belly painting if you wish
Instructions for the guests
- Bring a beautiful bead to give to the mama
- Bring a thought, poem or wish.
- Bring your love.
On the Day
- Decorate the space with whatever she loves – candles, flowers, earthy or colourful. Whatever is right for her.
- You can create the circle and have a ceremony at this time or…
- Simply gather together and enjoy the food – chat and relax and do what women do.
- Serve up the cake and invite her to cut the cake.
- Create a circle of women and get ready with the tissues.
- Pass the golden twine around the group and each share your thought, wish or hope for the mama to be.
- Pass the red ribbon round the circle. Each member of the circle knots the ribbon and cuts it to retain it on their wrist. Wear this until the birth as a reminder that we’re all supporting her, every day. During the labour she will be reminded of the love and support from her circle.
- The beads can be strung together to wear as a necklace in labour, or a string of beads to carry and remind her of your love and support.
You can find some lovely quotes about birth as a rite of passage here.
This book is a great resource.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
I’ve chosen to use the term Mother Blessing through the post because have recently discovered that this would be preferred by the Navajo tribe from where it originates.
“1. In 2004, Native feminists wrote us to request that the term ‘Blessingway’ no longer be used to describe non-Navajo prenatal ceremonies such as the one described in this article. They explained that the term ‘Blessingway’ refers to a sacred spiritual ceremony performed by the Navajo people to celebrate rites of passage that occur throughout the entire life cycle, and not only the passage into motherhood. They suggested the term ‘Mother Blessing’ was a more appropriate term for a ceremony that was influenced, and respectful, of this tradition, but not practiced in accordance with the Navajo faith and culture. We completely agree.
Out of repect for the great history and importance of the Blessingway to Navajo people, many doulas, midwives and mothers now use the term ‘Mother Blessing’ to denote the celebration outlined in this article — a practice we have also adopted.”
Thanks to my friend Heidi of Tribalkidz childcare based in Cornwall for inviting me to her mother blessing and letting me use her beautiful mother blessing photo.