A conventional baby shower might not be for you, and that's totally fine. One of the sweetest—and most spiritual—ways to shower a mom-to-be with affection before baby arrives is by having a mother's blessing, and it's pretty easy to plan. Instead of having the complexities of a shower (think: coming up with games to play and sitting down to open dozens and dozens of gifts), a mother's blessing simply celebrates mom.
A mother's blessing is meant to inspire and encourage the expectant mom just before she gives birth to baby. We caught up with Lara Carlos, co-founder of The Barefoot Mamas' Network and founder of the Birthing Barefoot Childbirth Preparation Classes, to get the inside scoop on why some pregnant women are opting for a mother's blessing in lieu of a traditional shower, and just what goes on when you have one.
What happens at mother's blessing?
It's very ceremonial—guests may be asked to bring two things: a poem, song, prayer, or scripture about pregnancy, birth or motherhood; and a bead to symbolize fertility, birth or motherhood.
Typically at a mother's blessing, an altar or adorned space is made for the pregnant woman and her guests to gather, with the mom-to-be in the middle—after all, she's the focus of the event! You can get creative and set up candles and flowers to help build an intimate ambiance. Once everyone has gathered, guests read the passages they've brought and string the beads together so that mom can wear them during labor (or keep them nearby, if she'd prefer!). The beads are a reminder of all of the love and support she has. Labor can be tough, so it's important that mom can feel the strength of her friends and family with her as she welcomes baby into the world.
Is a "blessing way" the same thing?
For the most part, yes. A mother's blessing is an intimate party inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessing way. The ceremony is held to prepare an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey—to shower mom-to-be with love, support and encouragement. The act of birth is seen as a rite of passage for women, and this is meant to help a woman feel mentally, physically and emotionally ready to give birth. A mother's blessing is a modern ceremony that can give moms-to-be a similar sense of support and honor as Navajo mothers-to-be have received in traditional blessing ways.
Why are women having these ceremonies?
Women who choose mother's blessings want something more intimate than the typical baby shower, or something that doesn't solely focus on baby. They want to feel more empowered about birth, especially if they're preparing for a natural birth.
What about gifts?
Other than meaningful poems, passages and beads, there aren't usually gifts at a mother's blessing. Those who celebrate mother's blessing ceremonies see the memories the gathering creates as the greatest gifts of all.
When should you have a mother's blessing?
A mother's blessing is typically held at the very end of pregnancy—around 36 to 38 weeks—and about 10 to 20 of the mom-to-be's closest friends and family are invited.
How can I plan a unique (and fun!) mother's blessing?
• Have each guest bring a favorite dish, so everyone has something to munch on.
• Give the mother-to-be an aromatherapy foot bath. Mix lavender essential oil and flower petals into warm water and clean her feet before the ceremony.
• Each guest can write a prayer or blessing on a piece of fabric. Later, it can be made into a quilt for mom or her little babe.
• Place a crown of flowers on the mom-to-be's head. It will look simple, and sweet!
• Cast a mold of the mother's belly that she can have as a keepsake.
• Bring a drum. Drums are known for their sacred healing abilities. Each guest can beat the drum as they share words of wisdom.
• Share positive birth stories. There's nothing better to hear before going into labor than stories of welcoming babies into the world in safe and wonderful ways!
• Give henna tattoos. This ancient practice has taken place across many different cultures. Henna tattoos are done using a special blend of herbs and oils that will make mom feel beautiful before her birth. (Yes, they're temporary!)
• Burn sage. Sage is known for its cleansing properties. Burning it nearby is thought to clear all negative thoughts and energy.
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