The Blessing Way is a way for a pregnant woman and her close friends to mark and celebrate her transition into motherhood. Unlike a Baby Shower, which is more baby and gift focused, the Blessing Way is a sacred gathering centered upon the pregnant woman, giving her focused nourishing attention and support. Blessing Ways often include a sharing circle where participants bring small gifts and heart-felt wishes for the mum-to-be, a creative activity and a nurturing activity. It is a space where the mum-to-be can share her hopes, fears and dreams and feel supported and activated to go on into her birthing time.
Where do Blessing Ways come from?
The Blessing Way ritual is inspired by American Indian traditions, in which family and tribe bless any significant endeavor. The participants at a Blessing Way would pray for the help of spiritual forces to safely guide the recipient on their path, and would offer their prayers and symbolic gifts of power and meaning. This ritual was a way to ceremonally mark significant transitions in life, in a spiritual and meaningful way.
With roots in this American Indian tradition, Blessing Way ceremonies have an inherent respect for nature, spirit, animal and plant life. These traditions direct us to experience pregnancy, birthing and moving into motherhood as a sacred transition. Within the Blessing Way ceremony we practice being in tune with the cycles of life. We experience the support of our elders, be that our friends who have become mothers first, or our chronological elders. These traditions encourage us to become humble as we pass through the gateways of motherhood initiation.
The Blessing Ways that we hold for our pregnant friends are an amalgamation of many elements of the sacred feminine as practiced today. We include that which is meaningful to us personally, socially and spiritually. This may be done through song, creative activities, intention setting, meaningful gift giving, pampering, ceremony and nourishing the senses with food, smells, textures and beauty.
What do you do at a Blessing Way?
A Blessing Way is intended to nurture, nourish, prepare, support and encourage the mum-to-be. Each woman will find her own individual ways to celebrate and call in support for her birth and personal transition. It may take from 3 to 9 hours, depending on the number invited and the planned activities for the day. So, although there are no must-do’s at a Blessing Way, here are a few guidelines:
- It is ideal if one or two women can hold the space and direct the activities of the day, so that the pregnant woman can totally relax. This person would need to ascertain the pregnant woman’s wishes or desires before hand, and make sure there is enough time for all the things on the wish list. She would need a clock or time piece at hand.
- It sounds obvious, but begin the ceremony by welcoming everyone present. It’s important that everyone feels welcome in order to be totally there for the pregnant woman. When sitting in a circle, it’s important that everyone can see each other. Make sure everyone is physically cared for, comfortable on their seat/cushion, hydrated, not Starving, and knows where the toilet is. Encourage the participants to use the toilet between activities if possible. Welcome everyone, and if some people haven’t met it can help to go around the circle and say your name and how you know the pregnant lady, and perhaps how you feel about the coming baby or your friends’ birthing time.
- Set your intention for your time together at the Blessing Way.
This may include:
- Sharing a birth story, and releasing birthing fears. If at all possible make this space one where the pregnant woman can voice all her fears and feelings about her coming transition without being judged or told her feelings are wrong. Only give advice if it’s asked for or check first before offering advice. If she is open to it, other mothers may share their positive birth stories or feelings about their difficult birth experiences, but remember a pregnant woman (especially a first-time mum) is very sensitive to suggestions of fear around birthing. She can be deeply helped by your genuine supportive and positive words.
- Hold a supportive ceremonial activity for her birthing and parenting journey. Verbally, silently in your head, or through intentional action, we can ceremonially call in support and love for our woman friend. This may be done by each saying a prayer or reading a meaningful poem. You may want to pass around a bowl of water and say your prayers of good will into the water, making sure you take your time, then giving to the pregnant lady to drink. (water has been well documented to carry the vibrations of our thoughts and feelings, and this is a lovely way to symbiotically reach both mother and child in his/her watery womb).
- Pampering. Pamper your pregnant friend with foot, hand and head massage while she sits or lies in a comfortable place. Or hire a professional pregnancy masseuse to come and give her a treat. Studies have shown that the more a mother is touched and nurtured, the more she is likely to touch and nurture her baby, and touched and nurtured babies are happy babies!! If there are a few of you pampering or massaging her at once, try to synchronize your strokes and touch, keep eye contact with each other and work together to create a beautiful experience for your friend.
Use flowers, delicious alcohol- free drinks
- Creating a gift. There are many simple creative activities you could do at a Blessing Way. The intention is to spend time together at an enjoyable pursuit which is a beautiful and/or practical gift for the pregnant woman.
- A great idea for this is creating “Blessing Flags” for the birthing space by taking squares of material and decorating them with your prayers, poems and pictures, then hanging them like prayer flags. Not only is this a creative and fun activity, it also brings all your love and support into the mother, father and baby’s world when it’s hung in their home. You can save yourself time and energy by checking out our Baby Welcoming kits which contain everything you need to create blessing flags as part of your Blessing Way.
- Henna belly painting. This is a lovely, baby safe way to pamper and decorate the mum-to-be. See the talented henna painters at Henna Harem for services and products.
- Quilt making. If you live in a cold climate, or just would love to make a little blankie for your pregnant friend, this can be a beautiful gift to make together. You will need squares of good thick fabric, padding materials (there are all kinds of choices out there depending on your budget) and lots of colored thread and materials. Of course, be careful not to use anything that will be easy to pull or eat off as the baby grows.
- Sharing food. Ask the guests to bring along a healthy plate of food to share to reduce the pregnant womans’ preparation efforts. Often, people will break from the ceremonial space in order to eat and feast together. So, for example, you may begin your Blessing Way at 9.30am, settle-in, share stories until 10.30, pamper and say prayers for your friend until 11.30 then spend time decorating blessing flags until 12.45 when you close the ceremonial space to eat together.
Who participates in a Blessing Way?
Usually significant women in the pregnant lady’s life are the participants in a Blessing Way. She may invite anywhere from 4 to 30+ women. Because it is a sacred ritual, it’s important that she trusts and feels close to the people present. She may invite women she admires, women who already have been through the birthing journey that she feels she can gain strength and encouragement from, and women who love and support her, and can share in her excitement in some way.
Including children and babies can be a meaningful addition to the ritual of the day, especially if they will be brother or sister to the new baby. You can support the space to be mother-focused by assigning a friend to child-care, and pre-planning gentle activities for the children. Preparing easily accessed healthy snacks and drinks, perhaps drawing or beading activities and the like. If the child is able and interested, he/she may be given important jobs such as handing gifts to the pregnant woman, and offering guests snacks etc. It is important though, for the depth of the pregnant womans’ experience that she is able to totally let go and be held in the Blessing Way space, and not need to take care of others’ needs at this time.
Generally Blessing Way celebrations are women centered times, however some women also invite their partner or male friends. Obviously, the most important thing is that the woman feel totally supported and relaxed and receiving with who-ever is there.
Creating a Blessing Way
Create your blessing way by using or focussing on:
- Sacred objects: You can increase the sense of specialness by asking everyone to bring an object that is special or sacred to them and placing in the center of the circle.
- Comfort!: Aside from adding to your appreciation of beauty, soft, comfortable cushions and furniture can help people to be really present so they’re not thinking about the hard ground or cold floor. Also ensure there’s adequate air flow and light, so the group doesn’t fall asleep with all the relaxing together!
- Food: A healthy platter of nuts and fruit, some salad to share, a good protein dish to make sure your blood sugar levels don’t dip too much.. you get the idea!
- Create a throne for the pregnant lady. This is her special day and your time to honor her and the journey she is on. Make it grand, decadent and very comfortable!
- I consider beauty to be one of the most important elements in creating a Blessing Way. A beautiful environment soothes the senses, relaxes the mind and nourishes the soul. So, ensure the space is clutter free and clean, include flowers, candles, gentle music, draped fabrics to soften the edges of furniture, soft textures and soft things to touch and lie on and essential oils*.
*A note on essential oils: If you are creating the space for the Blessing Way, ensure you use only 1/2 dosages (2-3 drops to 10ml carrier oil or oil burner) of only pregnancy safe oils. Correctly used essential oils can relax, boost morale, and ease nausea and heartburn for the pregnant woman, and create a nurturing space for all attending. Do not use any essential oils in the first trimester of the pregnancy.
Links to further Blessing Way information.
There are some wonderful books out there on the rising Blessing Way tradition, this being one of the best, by Shari Maser, CCE:
Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers
“Blessingways are celebrations of pregnant and adoptive women and their transition into motherhood. These special mother-centered gatherings offer friends and family a fresh approach to honoring, supporting, nurturing, and encouraging mothers-to-be.”
If, after all this information, it’s still too daunting to hold your own Blessing Way, and you live in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Australia, contact Amanda for details of her Blessing Way services.