Changing the Way We Celebrate Mothers

Ashleigh Donahue Photography

We are all familiar with the traditional baby shower; a custom our society designed to celebrate mom and baby, with a heavy emphasis on the baby. Registries are filled with swaddles, strollers, diapers, toys, clothes, and “must-have” accessories.

There is no denying baby showers are such a joyful way for friends and family to celebrate a baby being born. And while every single baby absolutely deserves to be celebrated and showered, so do mothers. Our baby shower tradition is just one aspect of mainstream America that has opened my eyes to how severely lacking we often are when it comes to honoring the monumental occasion that is a woman becoming a mother; especially when compared to other cultures around the world.

Currently pregnant with my third baby, I was recently blessed by a few friends who wanted to celebrate via a Blessingway, or Mother’s Blessing. This was a completely new concept to me. I was so honored, and intrigued, to learn more.

Bringing a baby into the world is such a beautiful aspect of life, yet our current society so often forgets that when a baby is born, so is a mother. The beautiful transformation into motherhood is also not one unique to a first-time mom; it continues and shifts with each baby she births (or welcomes into the world in other ways) – a mother welcoming her second baby, for example, is not the same woman she was as a mother of one.

So, what exactly is a Blessingway? Simply put, it is a Native American celebration focusing specifically on the pregnant mother, and her unique journey into motherhood. The term Blessingway refers to a sacred spiritual ceremony performed by the Navajo people to celebrate rites of passage that occur throughout life, often marking the transition a woman makes when she moves into motherhood.
During a Mother’s Blessing, a group of the mom-to-be’s closest friends come together to support her, honor her pregnancy, and create a small ceremony to celebrate the occasion. It is a loving space where mom can be vulnerable and explore both the challenges and joys that lie ahead, with some of the most cherished women in her life.
With friends all over the world, my Mother’s Blessing was held virtually, but they are most often held when everyone can join together in person. To be surrounded (even virtually) by the women and mothers who mean the most to me, who took time out of their busy lives to celebrate me, the life I am growing inside of me, and all I am becoming as I prepare to shift into a season as a mother of three was incredibly powerful, spiritual, emotional and impactful; an indescribable feeling of love and support.
What made it so profound, however, was not just the impact it had on me, but the visible impact it had on every single mother present. 
A Mother’s Blessing was exactly what I never knew I always needed – what I believe all moms need as they venture into the new landscape of motherhood. I felt like I was genuinely being held and loved by the women and mothers who mean so much to me. The agenda for the hour and a half spent together was carefully and intentionally planned; specifically designed to support me and my own journey as my due date inches closer.
To be encouraged in such a meaningful way by some of the most beautiful souls in my life was a perfect celebration as I spend my final few weeks pregnant, and as I prepare for that fourth trimester with baby earthside.
One of the most beautiful aspects of a Mother’s Blessing is an intentional conversation with those in attendance of how to best support mom and family after birth. This will look different for each individual, but it is traditionally centered around meals and in-home support. For example, a friend in attendance blessed us by setting up an online meal train for the first several weeks after baby arrives. I think my husband was on the verge of tears when he heard this, as it truly does take such a weight off the shoulders of everyone in the family just to know meals are covered during those critical first few weeks of healing and adjusting. What a gift!

There are many different ways to customize a Mother’s Blessing, as each woman and pregnancy is so different, but the basic structure of my own personal Blessing Ceremony included:

  • Setting the tone: I was sent ceremonial tea, cacao, and other meaningful items for my space; a Spotify playlist was also created in advance
  • Opening dialogue highlighting the history of how different cultures celebrate mothers and the birth experience
  • Movement and yoga
  • Customized meditation & reflection focused on my unique pregnancy and journey
  • Honoring of the mother: Affirmations, words of support, and encouragement
  • Closing Prayers
  • Postpartum Support blessing (meal train)
It has been immensely eye-opening to learn and experience a new way to celebrate moms-to-be. This experience was a true reminder that it’s people, not things, that will always have the most immense impact on your life and well-being. And that a healthy, happy, and supported mother is so much more important for baby than that fancy high-chair or expensive swing.
Something as simple as shifting our verbiage, for example, can be so powerful when it comes to supporting a new mom’s journey … changing “a baby has been born,” to an announcement that “a mother has given birth.” Let that small, yet monumental, difference sink in for a moment.
There are so many lovely ways to support the women and mothers in our lives, and I hope this generates more ideas and conversation so we can truly begin to shift the narrative within our own culture, and change the way we celebrate, honor and support women through pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Have you ever had a Blessingway? What was it like?


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