Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. Barbara Katz Rothman
I’ve just arrived home – still buzzing – from being part of a beautiful Blessing Way (or Mother’s Blessing) for a dear friend whose second bub is due in a few weeks time.
And what… – some of you may ask – is a Blessing Way?
Well, it can be many things and take many forms; but in short it is a collection of close friends and family of a mother-to-be, usually all female, who gather together some time in the last weeks of her pregnancy to a provide a concrete and powerful expression of their love, support and connectedness. To show their willingness to really “be there” for the birthing mother, as individuals and now as a group too, in any way she may need… and to empower this mumma to realise her own strength and the myriad of resources she has at her disposal as she heads towards the life-changing experience of giving birth.
A Blessing Way could also be said to be the non-commercial hippy cousin of the baby shower! Where the modern adage the only presents required is your presence really comes into its own.
In my previous post I wrote about the 3 Rs of childbirth and in a way this is a precursor to the 3rd R: ritual. Oftentimes, in our mostly secular society, our lives can be devoid of ritual and ways to meaningfully mark transitions and times of significant change. We can get so busy as well …. and pregnancy can end up being just another time of having to tick boxes and get stuff done. Get through the day, get through work, get to appointments, get the baby’s room organised, get the pram/nappies/cot/carseat…. the list goes on.
A Blessing Way invites the woman it is held for to slow right down, even for just a precious hour, and mark a moment in time. To marvel at the wonder of this everyday miracle. To feel into this liminal space between being one and being two. To feel deeply part of the cycle of life; our place in the long lineage of mothers that have given birth to each of us. To trust that this is what, biologically speaking, a woman’s body is made to do.
For a first-time mother, a Blessing Way provides such a wonderful opportunity to really acknowledge that birth and great change is on its way. To face any fears she may have head-on and, with any luck, start feeling ready, excited, and SUPPORTED in the next big part of her life’s journey towards motherhood. If there are women present who have already given birth, they can offer advice and guidance where appropriate. Or just the quiet fact that they’ve travelled this road too…
For mums of subsequent children, a Blessing Way is sometimes the only opportunity they have to really stop for a moment and connect with their belly and baby. To realise deep down in their bones that they are about to give birth again … in all the intensity and majesty and blood, sweat and tears that that entails.
Birth is an opportunity to transcend. To rise above what we are accustomed to, reach deeper inside ourselves than we are familiar with, and to see not only what we are truly made of, but the strength we can access in and through birth. Marcie Macari
I’ve been to many blessings over the years; I’ve been honoured to organise them for friends, and been lucky enough to have them organised for me for 2 out of my 3 bubbas (number 3 just got a housewarming party and lots of dancing instead!!)
And I can say that there are no hard and fast rules as to what they entail. Each one I’ve been to has been different, unique and special. If you are interested in having one there are lots and lots of tips floating around on the web. And now I’ll add my 5 cents!
It is good to ask a close friend who knows you well to organise and facilitate it for you. Work out a date and venue together, give them contact details for the people you’d like to have and then leave it to them. Although it might be tempting to invite everyone you are friendly with, it’s nice to keep it intimate …. around 7 or 8 people and no more than say 12. And definitely only invite the people who you feel comfortable to REALLY be yourself around. And who you know would feel comfortable in themselves to support you 100% in this particular way. People who will only share positive or uplifting stories. Who are not fearful or skeptical about the choices you are making around how you manage your pregnancy and how you plan to give birth.
So, on the day you might like to get your coordinator/friend to facilitate the actual proceedings too. Simple things like going around the circle and inviting people to introduce themselves, to perhaps say something about their connection to the mother and what they value about her. Then to oversee some sort of bonding ritual that can become meaningful for you all. You could do a guided meditation or visualisation. You could breathe or chant together. Or just sit in silence. You could each take a turn to choose a card from a set of affirmations and speak about why you are drawn to it.
Several of the blessings I’ve been to, including today’s, have involved people bringing a special bead which are then strung onto a necklace. Then the mother can wear this any time she needs to feel the support of her circle… including when she goes into labour if she wishes to.
Today’s blessing also included sending a ball of yarn around the circle and each person wrapping it a few times around their wrist and then passing it on…. so by the end we had this thread connecting us all. Then we each snipped ourselves away and tied up our bracelets. We will all keep wearing them now until the baby comes, remaining part of this circle, supporting our mutual friend.
At the Blessing for my first child, 12.5 years ago now so the memory is a littttttle hazy….. one friend brought her violin and played for us. Another brought her runes and did a reading for me. I was given amazing hand, foot, and neck massages… simultaneously!!!!!
At the Blessing for my second, everyone had written amazing affirmations for me on little scrolls of paper which were then gathered together into a little handmade pouch for me to keep nearby and read through again whenever I felt to. I still pull that little bag out occasionally and read through the notes – takes me right back to that time. On that day I was also gifted a candle which was lit during our ceremony. Then when I went into labour I was meant to light it again – nice idea eh? But that baby came so quickly we forgot. Insert laughing til I cry emoji here!
An extension of this candle idea would be to have all the participants from the Blessing light candles in their own homes when they know mumma has gone into labour. Then, as with the necklace, and the blessed thread… there is a continuing sense of being held, being connected and supported. As my yoga teacher used to say: Where attention goes, energy flows.
A good friend several years ago organised a woman to come and do an incredible henna design on her big biiiiiig belly and then the rest of us all got smaller ones on our hands, wrists or feet. Once again a way of creating and maintaining a concrete representation of our interconnectedness.
Finally, remember to share food together afterwards!! No coming together is complete without sealing the deal with food made and offered with love ❤ Perhaps even include partners and older children in this if you like (maybe they’ve been off playing at the park during the blessing?)
POSTSCRIPT: I started this post before Christmas and now my friend has had her bub… I’m hoping to add more once I’ve caught up with her soon.