"Just as a tree grows best when anchored firmly in the earth, so can a pregnant mother feel strong and capable when supported by a sisterhood of nurturing friends."
In contemplating the fact that I'm almost 18-weeks pregnant with my second child, my mind has been busy making lists of all of the baby items I'll need to get, the organizing I'll have to do, the cleaning that seems to never get done, and the meals I want in my freezer...all before Baby Monkey arrives! Of course, with the impending birth of my second child, I've also thought about baby showers. Since showers for any children other than your first is uncommon in my neck of the woods, I'm relying on product review samples and yard sales to gather the things I'll need for this next baby. This realization has made me think about how my local cultures places the focus of showers on the giver and the money involved in the giving rather than on the guest of honor and the reason for the celebration. In response, I want to tell you about an un-shower event called a "blessingway."
I love the Blessingway model of celebration and think it's a beautiful compliment or alternative to our standard baby showers. Started by the Navajo Native Americans, a blessingway is like a shower, but it focuses on the mother instead of the baby. While blessingways were ceremonies designated for all sorts of different life passages in the Native American culture, the most common one still held today is for pregnancy/birthing.Women who are close to the expecting mother all come together in the days before her birthing to bless her with encouragement, prayer, support, and love. There may be prayer, singing, foot washing, or special readings at a blessingway, holding firm to the traditional feeling of a ceremony. Belly casting, bead giving, and henna painting are all common activities with the purpose of empowering the mother for birthing and to celebrate her pregnancy.
In my research, I've found that many doulas and a few midwives offer blessingway services. They'll help you organize a blessingway and come run it to ensure smooth flowing from one activity to the next and a positive environment for the participants. Even for people who have never experienced a blessingway before, though, there is plenty of information available on the Internet to help you plan your own celebration.
The basics of a blessingway: http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/blessingway.html
The blessingway's Navajo history: http://www.hanksville.org/voyage/navajo/BlessingWay.php3
Outline of a blessingway ceremony: http://www.birthbeads.com/Blessingway.html
Unfortuntately, I don't know anyone who has either thrown or been the recipient of a blessingway before. I'd love to hear first hand the effects on a mother-to-be from behind upheld in this very spiritual and joyful way in the days before her birthing!
Note: this blog post is taken in part from The Blessingway blog post at my pregnancy journal blog at http://octobersheart.blogspot.com/