Ideas for a Blessingway

How to Choose Activities for Your Blessingway

Burning Fears at Blessingway
The fearing burning is in the upper right hand corner, actually in the fire place. Photo © MaybeCakes

The concept of a blessingway is drastically different from that of a baby shower. While a baby shower is often centered around presents and games, the blessingway is truly more mother-centered. (Some even call this time a mother blessing.) The goal of the time with your family and friends is to talk positively to mom about her upcoming birth and journey as a parent.

While this sounds great to many women, if they have never been to a blessing way or heard of it in detail, they may not know how to host the event. I would encourage anyone who is the least bit interested not to be frightened off. In fact, we're going to walk step by step through a variety of different aspects that you could incorporate into a blessingway very easily.

Washing Station

Blessingway Bowl for Washing
Photo © REW

A washing station is a great way to greet guests. This beautiful bowl is typically filled with water and flowers, often rose petals. You can also add something that smells nice, like essential oils. A recent blessingway I went to used myrrh to add a scent.

The goal of this washing station is to get guests to remember that this is to be a time to focus on the mom, to wash away their worries and enjoy the time spent in this special space. A sign can be a great idea, particularly if many of your guests have not been to a blessingway before. This can help your guests feel at ease.

You can set this up by the door so that guests can use it as they come in. Be sure that it is on a sturdy table. If you do not use regular towels to allow guests to dry their hands you will want to have a small garbage can to collect paper towels. Otherwise, you might have a mess on the floor.

You may also choose to "cleanse" the space by smudging. You simply take a smudge stick and use it in the area of the blessingway and/or wherever she intends to labor and or spend time after the baby is born.

Introduction of Guests

Lighting Candles at Blessingway
Photo © REW

The introduction of guests will often happen informally at most parties or baby showers, but as you are trying to create an intimate space to host this blessingway, one of the first formal things that is done is the introduction of the guests. There are numerous ways that you can do this, including lightening candles.

You can have the candles in a row or in a spiral or other formation, have each guest light a candle (I suggest that you use an automatic candle lighter.) and introduce themselves with a specific question or intention. Here are some examples in addition to their name:

  • matrilineal descent (I am Robin, daughter of Carol, granddaughter of Carolyn, great-granddaughter of Amanda.)
  • how they met the person being honored
  • a wish that they have for the birth, baby, or postpartum

These should focus on the positive. In fact, many blessingways I have attended, particularly where there are a lot of people attending their first blessingway, a small welcome is made to introduce the topic and to remind people that this is a positive space, no scary stories or jokes about long labors and sleepless nights.

Getting Rid of Fears or Worries

Burning Fears at Blessingway
The fearing burning is in the upper right hand corner, actually in the fire place. Photo © MaybeCakes

Let's face it, we all bring fears and anxieties whenever we go someplace. It's hard to be in the present. That is something that should be addressed more often in many spaces, but particularly at a blessingway. So it is important that you ask your guests specifically to set aside their fears and worries for the time that you are together.

One symbolic way to do this is to have them write what is on their mind on a piece of scrap paper and to burn it in a pot. Assure everyone the written note is for their eyes only and it need be as short or as long as they need it.

You'll need:

  • Lighter (can be reused from candles)
  • scraps of paper
  • pens and/or pencils
  • something you can burn the paper in like a cast iron pot or skillet

After having done this a few times, I can tell you, it really is powerful watching the papers burn up. I encourage you to a lot a bit of time for this and play some soothing music in the background. You can start the fire and invite guests to come up individually to add their papers to the fire, spending time watching if they would like. Be sure that your burning pot is in a working fireplace or some place that is safe. (I usually keep a fire extinguisher hidden but close given all the fire!)

Blessing the Mother

Pregnancy Affirmations for Blessingways
Photo © REW

This is one thing that really is very moving. If there is crying involved, this is where it happens. (One planning tip is to have tissues handy!) I usually talk about being prepared for this part in the invitations I send out. After explaining what the goal of a blessing way is, I ask them to think about or even write down a thought, a quote - something that expresses their hopes for the mother-to-be.

These should be tailored to the mother's life. Some examples of topics could be:

  • Becoming a first-time mom
  • Healing from a previous difficult birth journey (Though still worded in the positive and not dwelling on the past.)
  • A specific focus of concern for the mother: breastfeeding, postpartum, etc.
  • Feeling well supported in her decisions.
  • Letting her know that she has the support of the community.
  • Reminders of how strong she is or has been.

These should be personalized and don't need to be long or lengthy. If someone is having trouble, I usually bring some affirmation cards for them to look through or even small books of poetry around the topic of motherhood. This usually spurs people to come up with something on their own or they find something to use.

If this feels foreign to you, consider using a deck of positive pregnancy affirmations to use in place of having people read their own sentiments.

Prayer Flags

Prayer Flags
Photo © MAB

A different way to do blessing, or it can be done in addition to the reading of the blessings, is to make something with the blessings. The photo above is a color coordinated pennant made for this blessingway. Each guest was instructed to write their blessings or words on the pennants or flags. This can be used by the mother in labor as a reminder or even in the postpartum time frame as a way to encourage her to seek support from her friends and family.

This is only one visible way it can be done. I have also seen strips of fabric hung over a covered Styrofoam ring, a poster, and decorative index cards to be saved as a deck. The sky is really the limit here. It doesn't have to be fancy, just fun and useable.

Building a Blessingway Necklace

Blessingway Necklace
Photo © REW

A necklace can also be a way to symbolize the blessings that the guests have stated for the mother. This is one you would have them prepare for before the blessingway. Typically you would say on the invitation to bring a bead to string as a necklace that symbolizes something you wish for her to have or know.

As you may note on the necklace shown, not all beads are actually beads. I have seen people bring buttons, earrings, and even a homemade clay creation. Sometimes the meaning is very obvious, like initials of the parents. In this necklace, you may see the silver spiral with two beads inside. I was pregnant with twins when I was given this necklace. I used the necklace in late pregnancy as a calming force. I would lay in bed quietly and my fingers would run over each bead, recalling the gifters and what they had said as they presented this bead to me. Some mothers choose to wear them in their labor or use them in a similar manner. Other times you may find that mothers wear them to the next blessingway they attend.

In addition to having the bead that is brought by each guest, if you are hosting, you will want to have:

  • Scissors
  • Something to string the beads (remember think sturdy but thin)
  • Spacer beads
  • A few spare, different looking beads for those who may forget

Laying on of Hands

Women surrounding a pregnant woman on couch
Photo © LWA/Getty Images

You may also have a blessingway where it is appropriate to lay hands on the mother. This is again, something you'd want to clear with her. This might be when you use the time to pray for her and her baby or another example of when you might consider reciting the blessings.

In the end, it's important to realize that a blessingway is something very personal. You can use any of these elements to make your own celebration. It can be based in your faith or it can have nothing to do with religion; this is not the point of a blessingway.


Pampering the Mother

Henna Belly
Photo © REW

One idea is to find a way to pamper the mother during the ceremony or right before. One idea is to have someone do a henna design on her belly. The one show here was a mother welcoming her third child, so you see three blossoms. After the mother is done, each guest may also choose to receive a small henna marking, usually on her hand or foot. If the idea of using henna isn't your cup of tea, there are other things you can do. Some other ideas include:

  • a hand massage
  • a foot bath
  • a crown of flowers
  • draping mother in a special piece of fabric or cloth
  • painting her belly

The bottom line in selecting what to do is to make sure that the mother-to-be feels comfortable with whatever you have chosen. You may also select to do more than one.

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