by Kathy Stowell
The highlights of being pregnant for me included telling my husband we were expecting, strangers offering to open doors and carry things for me, having boobs, indulging in crazy cravings, and being the guest–of-honor at a couple of blessingways.
I love that blessingways—unlike baby showers with a traditional focus on the baby and stuff for the baby—are a celebration of the mother, reminding her of the support she is blessed with from her sisterhood.
Both of my pregnancies were such different experiences, and so too were my two blessingways. These are the best bits I’ve experienced, and I hope they help make your next pregnancy (or your best lady friend’s pregnancy) the most blessed ever.
Aim to have it before the birth happens.
Save a date around week 33 of Mama’s pregnancy to be on the safe side.
I’ve been to blessingways where the baby is present and, while it has been really sweet, it’s a shame to think of a mama-to-be missing out on support for the birth that magically happens from the blessing bits. Not to mention, there’s more focus on the Mama if her babe is still cocooning.
(Would now be a good time to mention I suffer a bit from middle child syndrome?)
Keep the gathering small.
I experienced both extremes in numbers. My first blessingway had five mamas in attendance, while my second had 30!
During my second pregnancy, we were living in a small town and I was worried I would hurt someone’s feelings if they found out that they weren’t invited—yes, along with my belly, my ego was huge. It turned out to be a huge social event; the intention of the gathering was diluted and it felt way too overwhelming.
I preferred the intimacy of the smaller group, for such an intimate event. Somewhere between five and seven guests is ideal.
Build a throne for Mama Goddess.
Set up the comfiest chair you own, right next to the food offerings.
You can lavish the chair with gorgeous tapestries, have a crown of flowers on hand, and prepare a hot foot bath laden with essential oils, herbs, and flower petals to help her feel like the Goddess that she is.
Include a massage.
This part of the blessingway makes me drool just thinking about it. During my blessingway massage, I was immediately whisked away to la la land. It’s simple: each guest takes a hand, a foot, or mama’s head, and massages away.
This part should last about an hour because, really, how many kids (and massages) is one Mama going to have in one lifetime?
While in this ecstatic state, it’s pretty heavenly to also hear positive birthing stories, mothering experiences, and your friends’ memories of times that they’ve observed your strength and courage—especially as this will be the same strength and courage you muster during the birthing journey.
Keep the food simple and seasonal (and continuously coming).
Because my husband and I apparently like to conceive children around Valentine’s Day, both of my blessingways were in mid-autumn, when warm, comforting soups and stews served as the perfect strengthening and season-celebrating main course. Someone else brought a loaf to eat, while everyone else brought a frozen meal to be saved until after the baby was born.
Never allow the Mama-of-Honor to leave her throne (except to relieve her increasingly crowded bladder, of course) and ensure feast-laden plates are constantly presented to her.
I can’t say how much I appreciated every guest bringing a frozen meal for my family to indulge in after the birth (also having a cooler at the ready to hold and transport the meals is a nice touch). I wasn’t in the mood for visitors for a solid week after both my homebirths, so receiving the meals beforehand was a blessing. Today, I also honor this space when my friends are babymooning.
Say the blessings.
Also, request that each guest bring a bead to contribute to a necklace Mama can thread together and wear during the birthing experience. Ask the guests to sit in a circle on the floor and pass around a small dish to place the bead in, as they express their wishes for the birth or explain why they were drawn to that particular bead.
This is (yet) another bonus to not having too many mamas there: I was actually able to remember these stories in the throes of labour! It was crazy, but I was able to recall who gave me which bead and the story behind it.
Pass the string that binds.
Another meaningful ritual involves asking everyone to keep a piece of string around their wrist until they receive news of the baby being born. The purpose is to hold the energy of the sacred blessings.
Pick out a ball of string or yarn that won’t easily break. With everyone still sitting in a circle, pass the string and have everyone tie a piece of it around their wrist while singing and chanting.
Offer a gift from the Mama.
I offered gifts to the guests at the end of my blessingways, and my favourite was a beeswax candle meant to be lit once labour begins to rock and roll.
When I was giving birth, the hostess of my party was notified by my dear husband (after he lit the mama candle) that “Kathy’s in labour”—and if you read that with a monotone male voice that’s exactly what that conversation sounded like—and she contacted all of the candle-wielding maidens to let them know it was time to light their candles as well.
It was powerful to remember that there were all of these little lights, sprinkled throughout our community, holding space for my family and me from afar. It truly gave me that extra oomph when I needed it.
There are so many more ideas and elements that can be incorporated into this sacred gathering, but like everything else in life, I find keeping it simple is best. A woman 33-ish weeks into her birthing labyrinth can get tuckered out and overwhelmed quite easily.
But still, I would love to hear—if you had a pretty magical blessingway yourself, what tip or element would you add to this bliss list?
Please leave in the comments below and I’ll be checking in to see what you have to share.
About Kathy Stowell
Founder of Bliss Beyond Naptime &
Mama Bliss Coaching School
Kathy Stowell is the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School—a twelve week training program for moms to coach other moms to deeper self-care, creativity, a values led-life and simplicity. She also writes at Bliss Beyond Naptime about how honoring four pillars of Mama Bliss can move a mama toward discovering her passions and calling outside of motherhood.