Let’s start with what a Mother Blessing Ceremony (hereon refereed to as *MBC*) is NOT.
Ok, so *MBC* is not a baby shower (gifts for baby and party games), it’s not a religious ceremony, it doesn’t need a celebrant (but you might like to have one anyway), it is not an opportunity for people to come and tell you their traumatic birth stories, *MBC* is NOT a blessing way (thanks Wild Copper Moon for clarity), and *MBC* is not only for cis (natal) women (see below) and finally *MBC* isn’t woo-woo – oh wait, that’s a matter of opinion? Ok, it might be a bit woo but that is up to you to decide. Ready to find out more? Let’s dive in…
In essence *MBC* is a rite of passage event held towards the end of pregnancy to mark your transition into motherhood. Like as a wedding ceremony marks the transition from single into married life.
Rites of passage are thresholds we pass over during the course of our life. They can also be thought of as hinges, where life direction changes. Every hinge is unique, although there are common threads that run through. Some only happen once (menarche) whereas others can happen multiple times (giving birth).
These moments in life seem to call out for a slow, rich appreciation that feeds the depths of our souls. We want to take notice, to be seen and heard in our transitional state from one place in life to another. We call our nearest & dearest to gather, to witness us as we step over these major thresholds – birth, marriage, death are the most well known, but there are other thresholds in a woman’s life that separate her from her previous life and also join her to the fertility cycle of womanhood: menarche, pregnancy, birth, postnatal & baby naming.
Ok, I hear you want more details about the practicalities of *MBC* so here goes:
WHAT: A celebration of pregnancy, birth & motherhood.
WHO: Giving birth is an intimate event, and in the days leading up to it the mama-to-be will probably wish to be careful about who she lets into her intimate space. The *MBC* will most likely be a small gathering of her closest friends & family, people who support her choices. This is about the mama being comfortable and supported, not just making everyone else feel welcome. Often this is a women only event, but that is a decision mama makes.
WHEN: In early pregnancy you could be forgotten for occasionally forgetting the biological miracle that is happening hidden inside the womb. Yet as the birthing time comes closer, and the belly bump gets bigger everything becomes ‘more real.’ It is generally in the third trimester, around 34 – 38 weeks gestation that most women feel the greatest impact from having their *MBC*.
WHERE: Again, this is an individual choice. Many people choose the privacy of their own front rooms, or gardens. Others may rent a designed space away from the busyness of everyday life. Others might be called to celebrate under the open sky – in a park, beach or other wild place. It depends on what kind of ceremony they want to create.
These details – the what, who, when, where – and all hang from the essence = WHY? And the essence comes from what is needed. Does the mama need to feel more loved and supported so that the beautiful birth hormones of oxytocin can begin to flow and she can let the process of labour unfold? Or does she need more courage to be able to face her fears, and in this way approach labour in a calm and relaxed way? Understanding that fear causes tension, which causes pain, which causes fear, which causes tension means that all negative cycles must be broken. The path to birth needs to be cleared of obstacles.
The essence of *MBC* is a space which gives the birthing person what they need to be able to say, ‘yes, I am ready to give birth.’ For most women giving birth is one of the biggest feats of endurance in her lifetime. It requires mind, body and soul to work together. She must let go and allow the child to move through her, because actually she doesn’t give birth, she allows birth to happen. It is a biological process that is so innate it has been known to happen while a pregnant woman has been in a coma, proving it actually requires no mental effort. I mean to say that the body gives birth, not the mind. However, the mind needs to know that all is safe & well so that it doesn’t alert the emergency body systems that there is danger – this gets in the way and slows down or stops the labour process.
HOW: This is a big topic, too big to cover adequately in this blog. But I’ll give it a go to get my message across. How you host a mother blessing ceremony is first by creating a container, that means a place where time stands still. Simply put all distractions are turned off, and attention goes to supporting the mother. Perhaps we’ll take a few deep breaths, to ground and centre ourselves. Then somebody might read a poem they wrote:
May the strength of a thousand ancestors be at your head
May the love of all these women be at your back
May the knowing that you have inside you – hold you fast
May the earth hold you safe and deliver you with ease
May the heart of your baby beat close to yours
May your milk and your love flow in abundance
May your spirits grow each day as the sun rises and sets
May your baby know all of these and teach you more….
~ Jenn Foster
I see all ceremonies as having three parts, an beginning, a middle and an end.
We begin by creating sacred space, a safe circle of trust and togetherness. This normally means taking a few minutes in quiet to ground energy and set the intention – reminding us why we came and what we’re doing together. Often this is the first time all these particular people have come together like this, so people introduce themselves. This could be the time for sharing positive birth poems, or readings, perhaps each person strings a bead onto a necklace for mama to keep close during labour as symbolic of her circle of support.
Then (the middle) we do the thing we came together to do – the essence. We gather to honour the mother, in ways that are meaningful to her. She could be pampered with a relaxing foot bath, and massage, hair brushing, henna painting. Whatever happens she is at the centre and free to share her deepest hopes and fears in confidence. The circle is strong and she is held in the middle.
The ending is about reintegration, moving back to the circle and building on the shared experience of supporting the mama through unity and connection. Focus shifts to the future, A circle of support from this day onwards. Final words, and close. Followed by food!
*MBC* are held all over the world, and best facilitated by someone other than the mama-to-be so she can relax and enjoy. This could be a trusted friend / relative or you can find a rich web of women experienced in supporting these kind of ceremonies to help guide the process.
Jackie Singer (author of Birthrites) says, ‘Amidst all the practical preparations for welcoming a new member of the family, a Mother Blessing provides a time of deep inner preparation for birth and the journey ahead. It’s a time to gather trusted friends around and gather the resources needed to approach birth in a calm and positive state of mind. Giving birth is a heroic deed – you deserve to be celebrated and blessed!’
Jo Rogers, celebrant says, ‘I like to help mums write these ceremonies so that they feel fully connected to their babies, bodies and births. Birth, like life and death, is a whole being journey, and often overlooked is the Spiritual connection to the baby and the process. My work in the world is about embodied spirituality, so anything I can facilitate that brings the spiritual world home to the mother’s body is what I aim to bring.’
To read the story of Michelle’s mother blessing facilitated by Emi Ralph see HERE
Read more in my previous blog about *MBC* and see the video HERE
Talk to me about creating you own mother blessing ceremony HERE
Find out more and join one of my ‘How to host a mother Blessing workshops’ HERE
Pregnancy art by Annelie
Tres Generaciones, artist unknown used with gratitude
Photo by Gaby Sweet
*ref: cis (natal) women. I offer this with respect and clarity to members of the transgender community with the understanding that not only women give birth although I do use the terms: women / mama throughout for ease of description.