29 August 2010

mother blessing

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Big owlet when she was little and little owlet when she was "baby inside"... I am the moon...

I've had the great fortune to attend a number of blessingways, but never my own. It looks like I may have the chance towards the end of this very long road to our third owlet... and I will be celebrating!! So what is a mother blessing/blessingway? Traditionally, its a Navajo ceremony to celebrate the passage of a woman from maiden to motherhood. They've become increasingly popular over recent years as a way to bring positivity and caring energy to a soon to birth mother. An alternative to a baby shower. Generally no presents for the baby are brought, no registry involved. Rather than focus on the baby, it is very much about the mother feeling supported by the circle of women around her and remembering all the women who have birthed before and around her. So what goes on? It depends on the mother and what she's up for, but you'll often find beads, candles, henna and red yarn, not to mention piles of yummy food... Guests might bring a bead and some might be sent from afar to contribute to a necklace. The birthing woman's belly may be adorned with beautiful patterns in henna, or perhaps a plaster cast made to remind her of the time her belly was so full and ripe. Candles may be brought to the mother, or taken away to be lit when there is word that she is in labour. Someone might fill a tub with warm water and herbs to soak the mother's feet or gentle hands may massage her. The red yarn symbolises every woman's birthing lineage and fertility... Each woman in the circle ties the yarn around her wrist for each woman who has birthed in her lineage (as far as she can remember), then passes it to the next woman so at the end there is a network of women who have birthed before. Then the yarn is cut and tied around each wrist to stay there until news of the birth. Another tradition I've taken part in recently is mother blessing flags - like tibetan prayer flags, I suppose. Friends and family near and far contribute affirmations, symbols and positive thoughts to the mother on small flags which are hung in her birthing space.

A difficult thing to convey is the amazing energy at a mother blessing. Its nourishing not only to the mother, but for the women around her. There's often talk of birth, in a positive sense, no horror stories!! Fear is removed. There's anticipation and love and a buzz that tends to linger. Sounds a bit hippy flippy perhaps, but I think the recognition of this period of transformation is so important. Focus on community and support around women is so important at this time and a little ceremony and tradition never hurts. So much focus will be on the baby after the birth, after all...

For me, I love the red yarn, the massages and I've enjoyed contributing prayer flags for friends far away, but I'm thinking of altering it slightly. Combining the idea of the red yarn, I'm hoping to send out some patches for friends and family to contribute to a redwork style quilt - borrowed entirely from Kirsty's Quilt Project of last year. Rather than redwork embroidery though, I'm thinking mixed media - paint, screen printing, felt, embroidery, applique, drawing... whatever. But it has to be red. The squares will be hung around my birth space (where I'm sitting right now) and one day made into a quilt to hand on to the owlets... Oh and of course, there will be cake and umpteen cups of tea, lots of chatting and maybe a teary eye...

PS. Some peeps have asked me if I'll be allowed to have a homebirth this time. The answer is yes, but no, but kind of... The Australian Government signed an agreement shortly before the election which allowed doctors the right to veto homebirths. Women wanting a midwife in attendance at their homebirth must check in with the hospital and doctors and can only birth at home if the doctors say so. This would exclude women who have previously birthed by c-sec, or who have a breech baby or twins on board, or perhaps women who are deemed too heavy or too tall or too overdue etc. The list is endless... As someone who tends to carry babies longer than the hospital recommends, and for a variety of other reasons, this effects me. It effects thousands of women. Actually it affects all women who now have lost the power to make decisions about their own health care. I have done extensive research, know my body well, have birthed easily before and know where exactly I need to be when the time comes. Fortunately I have support and experience around me and will have the birth I want, but it is ever so slightly compromised...


  1. Oh, all these blooming bellies around me takes me back! :) Please include me in with your patches. Many Blessings.

  2. What a beautiful experience, we mummies are just the luckiest people of all. Can't say my twin belly was as glorious & round as that image, it was square & i literally had an octopus in there. My other single pregnancies were a tad more shapely. Love Posie

  3. Yay! I have never had the pleasure of attending a blessingway! Time is drawing near, seems to have gone so fast. I love the red yarn idea too.

  4. Lovely post. I've never been to a blessingway, they sound so nurturing yet empowering. I love the flag idea and red yarn.

    I hope you're getting some sleep.

  5. I'd love to contribute a square too lovely Lauren!

    That photograph brought back SO many memories :)

  6. Sounds like a magical time. Can't be long now?? Quilt idea sounds special xx.


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