A Blessingway is a special ritual which honors a woman during a time of transition or celebrates her in a new life journey. Blessingways for Moms-to-be create a beautiful circle of support and love around the expectant mama. Just as elephant mothers surround and protect another birthing elephant, so too, we encircle and offer support to a sister, friend, cousin who is becoming a mother for the first or fifth time.
A blessingway differs from a baby shower in that it focuses on the woman and her transformation into mother in a deeper way than at a party with a showering of gifts. Gifts may be included, but instead of practical items or pretty clothing, gifts are symbolic or carry special meaning, such as an heirloom being passed down, or the gift of a poem being read. A woman may have a traditional baby shower and also savor the ritual of a blessingway. These ceremonies welcome and honor a woman as she enters into the Mother’s Circle.
Blessingways for Moms-to-be celebrate women as they enter the sacred circle of motherhood. They should be planned and created with love in the details and should reflect a mother’s personal beliefs and values. Whether a mother is spiritual or not, a ceremony may be designed specifically to have deep meaning and importance to her by incorporating her individual practices and beliefs.
Some elements of blessingsways for moms-to-be could include a salt bowl in which each guest adds something to the Epsom salts, such as fragrant oils or dried flowers, and mixes it while saying a prayer or giving a special message to the mother. Another idea is to have a laying-on-of hands ritual in which trusted women gently hold their hands all at once on the mother, upon her head, shoulders, back or belly according to her comfort. Everyone sends thoughts and messages of love and peace to her as they quietly rest their outstretched palms and fingers.
Wreaths of flowers, foot baths with fragrant herbs and smooth stones, poetry, personal letters, candles, henna art, music and symbols can all be a part of a beautiful blessingway. Get creative and really think about what would be most meaningful to the guest of honor. Food and drinks, of course, must be a part of a blessingway, as sharing a meal centers any celebration.
In our local doula group, Doulas of Rhode Island, we have the special tradition of hosting blessingways for all of our doulas who are expecting. Each woman’s own doula (or someone close to her in our group) plans the blessingway with unique features for the mom or mamas we’re honoring, but the labor necklace has become our tradition for every doula’s blessingway. Each guest brings a bead to add to a labor necklace. As she hands the bead to the mother, she explains why she chose it and what significance it has. When the necklace is strung, the mother may wear it in labor to gain strength and feel supported and loved.
Here is a list of other options and ideas for hosting a blessingway for new moms:
- Create a circle
- Give out candles and when Mom goes into labor, everyone receives a message and lights the candle
- Sting red yard wrist around wrist as each guest shares the names of her matriarchal lineage
- Belly casting or belly art
- Quilt squares
- Sharing stories about birthing or parenting
- Create a schedule for bringing meals once the baby arrives, or help with older siblings
- Use the elements like water and fire, earth and air
- Share favorite lullabies
- Passing on of heirlooms – baby blankets, rattles
- Singing, drumming, chimes or bells
- Hold hands in a closing ritual
- Deep breathing or guided visualizations
- Readings of poems, inspirational quotes, prayers or meditations
A very special thank you to Lisa Gendron, Agroterra Photography, for graciously providing
her beautiful images for this post.
Photographs used with permission © Lisa Gendron, Agroterra Photography & Birth www.agroterraphotography.com