What is a Mothers Blessing Ceremony?
A mum asked me recently what a mothers blessing was, I explained briefly it was like a baby shower but is about supporting the mother and helping to empower and prepare her for birth, she then replied with, 'oh thats not for me, I dont want that kind of support or do i need that kind of preparation for my birth'.
She then continued to tell me how she was preparing for her birth and how she felt so alone, which was why she was looking for a doula.
My heart felt sad, as she must have looked at a mothers blessing as 'hippie stuff' and in that context of it being 'hippie ' it wasnt for her. This lady had never attended one, had only experience of baby showers. This conversation left me with a passion to write some feelings that are becoming this blog.
A baby shower is quite different, and whilst I understand a mothers blessing is not for everyone I do feel it is part of the rite of passage of childbirth our western world could do with to help us feel the support that is truly around us, and to help us connect and focus on the experience of birth we are about to go through.
A mothers blessing is a traditional gathering of the expectant mothers female elders, relatives and friends, all there to impart positive words and experiences to help the expectant mother to feel empowered, supported and loved in preparation for her impending birth.
In my experience they are best within two weeks of the mum's due date, a time the mum begins to focus fully on birth, the reason being that having one so close to birth gives the mum fresh recent memories of the support and strength around her.
Each mothers blessing I have attended and created has been vastly different but the basics at the core of creating it is the same.
I believe the majority of people around the world have had a ceremony similar to a mothers blessing, because birth is such a big experience in life, a rite of passage to motherhood, and was until recently a potentially fatal experience.
There are references to the blessings in Caroline Hillyers work.
This song, 'First Blessing' is one I found in Caroline Hillyers beautiful book Sacred House.
''So I left the warm fields of my own maiden hood
and I followed the course of my restless years
I came to the place where my mothering stood
and this is the daughter that I found there;
she's the raw and the rhythm of all that I feel
the promise of grace newly born
she's the mystery of love in its wild poetry
my mirror and I am her door
she is my mirror and I am her door''
Perhaps take a moment to read that again....
I was thinking of including mothers blessing ideas, and a few song ideas that I use in this blog, but as I'm writing this I'm changing my mind because I feel my ceremonies are never the same and as a celebrant I find that as I work with each expectant mother the ideas that come are so individual for the support she needs, it's a more intuitive process to create individual ceremonies that suit each mother's ideas for her own support.
One tradition to look to is Navajo, there are plenty of ideas on the internet to draw from. The Navajo call this ceremony a Mother's Blessingway, however we cannot coin the word Blessingway from Navajo culture here unless we experience it. I believe as western British women we can draw on our own feelings to create the ceremony that feels right for us.
It is known that women get together in gatherings/ circles, our brains produce Oxytocin, thus creating love, bonding, connection and relieving stress. Vitally important for a pregnant and birthing mother. (Reference 'The Invisible Sex, Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistoryby J. M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer, Jake Page)
So when creating a mothers blessing ceremony the main aims I feel to keep in mind are to ensure the birthing mother will feel supported and loved, receive positive support, be able to step out of her busy life and focus on her birth, and retain the feelings of the deep support, empowerment and love that surrounds her to help her through her baby's birth feeling and knowing she can do this like many women before her. Because she can do this!!!
A mothers blessing ceremony really does work in providing love, empowerment, and support! However as I said before I find it works best to hold it in the final weeks as a perfect focus for the final preparation for birth.
'I felt completely connected to myself and my baby during and after the mothers blessing circle. I loved the deep connection. The candle we created is still going strong 6 weeks after birth too, helping me through the tough times even now. I honestly believe I wouldn't have got through birth and these first weeks with my baby without the ceremony and feeling the love there'