What’s a Mother Blessing?
A Mother Blessing, which may also be known as a Blessingway (but for cultural respect of the Navajo tradition, we will call it a Mother Blessing) is a gathering of special women who create a loving atmosphere around the mother-to-be, empowering her with support and encouragement as she transitions from pregnancy into childbirth onto motherhood. A mother blessing helps the woman prepare emotionally, mentally and spiritually for the important role of a new mother. It is a ceremony borrowed from old Native American tradition, celebrating a woman’s right of passage into motherhood.
A mother blessing can be a GREAT alternative to the traditional baby shower. As those are nice, they may not be quite as practical as we think! Baby showers are intended to do just that- shower the baby (in love & gifts!) which is wonderful, except, then what? Mama may have some cool baby gear or gear that will never be used and tossed into a donate pile, then what? What about the new mom? Where is her encouragement leading up to the birth? Where is her group of women she feels empowered by? What about her group of women she knows she can call at anytime for advice or someone to just drop off meals after baby? As the baby showers are well meaning and sometimes very helpful, there needs to be support for the mother, too. No matter if its her first baby or tenth. Each baby is different, each pregnancy comes with its unique wishes and/or fears, each time birth happens, that mama becomes a mama all over again to a whole new stranger, all of which are worthy for support and community.
What happens at a Mother Blessing?
A mother blessing is very sacred, ceremonial and intimate! The mother decides who she wants to be in her “tribe” if you will, whether that’s one close friend/family member or 20+ women! The point isn’t to see how little or many she has. The point is to surround the mother with women she feels close to and vulnerable with. A tribe she knows will empower her and give her the love she needs before and after baby arrives. The mother herself can set this up, or a close friend/family member can be the one to host! (If you’re a friend of an expecting mama, reach out to see if this is up her alley & host it for her! This may just be what she is truly needing, especially if it’s her first baby!)
Here are some ideas/events you may find at a mother blessing:
FOOD! Most all pregnant mama’s dreams! Pregnant or not, food is most all women’s dreams, amiright?! Forget diamonds! Generally a mother blessing has an array of yummy, nourishing foods for the mother (and baby she’s growing) and guests to snack on! The food can be as simple or detailed as you’d like! This could also be a great opportunity to ask the guests/attendees to bring a dish to pass!
Written Birth Affirmation or Prayer. Typically, guests are asked to bring something along the lines of a written prayer, poem, and/or birth affirmation. These should be focused on the mother and the birth she is preparing for. These can be read aloud in a group or kept silent for the mother to read later.
Bead Ceremony. Along with the written piece just mentioned, bead or charm can be brung for the mother to string on her birthing necklace or bracelet, or set out nearby her birthing space so it’s visible during birth. The bead or charm should reflect the mother and/or the hopes and prayers that are held for her birth. The guests presents their beads or charms and explains to the mama why they chose the one they did.
Henna or Painting of Mama’s Belly. Decorating the mother’s round belly is such a fun way to “pamper” the mom and honor the journey of her pregnancy! Henna is a temporary stain for the skin derived from the henna plant whereas painting is even less temporary. Henna will generally last 1-2 weeks (depending on after care.) Either one would be a fun option and can be as detailed or not as the mother would like. Since the nature of henna is to stain the skin and serves more so as a temporary tattoo, some people, but not always, will hire henna or tattoo artists to do their henna design! Painting of the belly could be a better option if the mother is wanting to involve her children, etc. Please be sure to buy henna from a reputable source. There’s some henna on the market called “black henna” which is full of synthetic/toxic ingredients which could lead to awful skin reactions. Remember, if you choose to go the painting route, be sure you are using a non toxic paint, safe for the skin.
Washing/Massaging of the Feet. Washing and massaging the mother’s feet should make the mama feel surrounded by love, support and empowerment. What a way for mama to relax & literally take a load off! Fill a bowl or bucket with warm water- you might even consider adding herbs, salts or flowers to the bowl! Physical touch is something we’ve lost sight of as a society. It is so connecting, grounding, and important. (This would be a great thing to do for the mama postpartum, too! She needs to be touched and nurtured as much as she is touching and nurturing her new baby!) A pedicure done by a loving woman could also serve as a nurturing gesture, especially considering mama is likely not able to even see, let alone reach her toes!
Other ideas: Of course, there’s no one “right way” to have or host a mother blessing. Make it whatever the mother would find enjoyable. Other ideas could include, making flower crowns for mother and/or guests to wear, creating a plastered belly cast, dancing, presenting the mother with truly helpful postpartum gifts (herbal sitz bath, yoni spray, mesh undies, cloth pads, depends, a comfy robe and slippers, etc.!) burn sage, share positive birth stories.
Timeline of Events:
As mentioned above, there’s no one “right” way and everyone’s mother blessing will vary depending on what tailors to the mother’s likes and wants. However, it’ll generally look something like this:
- Food will be set out so guests can help themselves.
- Introductions will then happen if this is a group of women who may not know each other well. Introducing themselves like “My name is ______, daughter of _____.” seems to be a liked way to do introductions. And a powerful way, too! Sitting in a circle for this and the following is a way to connect and make a secure circle of mama’s tribe of women.
- Written piece/beads are presented to mama. Have the guests, one by one, go around the circle and present their written piece and/or beads to the mama.
- Henna/paint the belly! Depending on the intricacy of the design, this may want to be started at the beginning of the mother blessing.
- Massage mama’s feet. Even while she’s getting her henna done if it’s not in the way of the artist working on her belly.
- Guests/women tell positive birth stories and reminisce on their births. This could really offer mama the courage she needs.
When to have a Mother Blessing?
This is entirely up to the mother herself. Since each pregnancy and mother is unique, she may want to have it sooner or later in her pregnancy. Generally, mother blessings are held around 38 weeks pregnant.
Do you want a Mother Blessing? Ask one of your closest friends! I’m sure they’d love to host one for you! Or, host one yourself!
Do you want to host a Mother Blessing for a mother-to-be in your life? Again, ask! I bet the mama would be thrilled someone would think of her in this way!
Feel free to ask any questions or comment your thoughts! Would you ever host or want to have a Mother Blessing?! Let me know!
As always, thanks for reading! Sending the biggest hugs from me to you!