What is a Blessingway?
The practice of celebrating the pregnancy and birth of a new mother and child is common in many cultures around the world. While the traditional American baby shower is usually focused on the baby to come, a Blessingway is also about celebrating and praying for the pregnancy and the soon-to-be mother as she prepares for the birth and a new stage of motherhood.
The Party- The celebration itself can be set up in many different ways. You can use the term Blessingway or you can have a Baby Shower and incorporate some of these ideas. You could have a separate Blessingway for a mom who is having a Baby Shower also. You can invite only the women closest to her, or you can invite families. These choices will all just depend on what kind of celebration is best for the expecting mother and her preferences can be considered while maintaining an element of surprise.
Invitations- I got ideas for an invitation (and the party) from another blog. I liked how they explained the Blessingway celebration in the invitation. I then created the invitation pictured below. I used the colors for this baby's nursery added a bible verse I felt was appropriate. You can include instructions for what to bring or what activities to expect. I did this on a separate insert so that the Mom could get the main invitation but still be surprised by some of the activities.
Decorations- Again, this can be done however you would like. Anything from general dinner party to baby shower themes or girls night themes would be appropriate. I could also imagine pretty amazing decor themed on The Red Tent, which is an incredible novel.
Refreshments- You could serve anything that goes with the theme, or you could have it be a potluck style party where the guests contribute food also.
Gifts- This really depends on the family. The focus of the celebration is on Blessing the new family. For a first time mother, if she is not also have a Baby Shower, it would still be a HUGE blessing for her to receive those things she wants on her baby registry, so this would be very appropriate. You can also have guests bring a freezer meal (if the expecting family has freezer space) or sign up to bring a post-baby meal to bless the family with food in those early weeks of new parenting. One of the great parts of this celebration is that it is not about the "stuff", necessarily, but about blessing this family. Sometimes the greatest blessing is just time for Mom to focus on herself.
Activities- This is the other aspect of Blessingway celebrations that are unique and special. You can incorporate as many Blessing activities into the celebration as you would like or not. These activities are meant to honor the expecting Mother in her pregnancy, pray for and support her birth, and to bless the new life God has created.
Mother the Mother- Activities to relax and bless the expecting Mother:
Foot and Hand Washing
This act can be both a wonderful pampering and a spiritually meaningful experience. Read John 13: 1-17 about Jesus washing the disciples feet. To pamper Mom, maybe add epsom salts mixed with an essential oil such as lavendar, peppermint, or orange. You could also float flower petals on top. Be sure to have soft towels and creamy lotion available for her also. If you would like you could make this a full pedicure.
What pregnant woman doesn't like a massage? You could give this as a gift or have someone give the massage during the Blessingway. Make sure to hire someone who is familiar with prenatal massage techniques. Set up a space for the massage with candles and soft worship music playing.
For the Belly- Activities to honor and bless the life she carries
This can be done in a variety of ways. You can have an artistic friend do the work, all the guests can contribute, or you can hire a professional artist. You can use safe, non-toxic body paints to create a design. You can get henna paint and create a design that will last a while longer (This does require a significant amount of time with Mom's belly wrapped in saran wrap after the paint is applied, so make sure it's okay with her first).
This activity usually requires a fairly significant investment of time, at least 30min, and requires Mom to be mostly topless and messy so be prepared. You could do the belly casting at the Blessingway, or you could do it ahead of time and have those present help decorate the belly cast.
There are some pictures of belly painting, casts, and henna here.
For the Soul- Activities to pray for and bless the pregnancy, baby, mother, and birth
For this activity, you need to inform the quests of the preparation. The invitation I pictured above has this in the card insert. Basically, each guest will bring a bead or charm and then a card with a scripture, prayer, loving thought, poem, or quote to share with the Mom. With some sort of ceremony (again, think candles, soft background music, either in private or in the group) each guest presents there prayer and bead. Have a cord or ribbon available to then string them together. Mom can then wear this whenever she would like, including during her labor and birthing. When I did this, I made sure to ask her husband to provide a bead and blessing. This is a beautiful and extremely meaningful activity, my friend wrote about it here.
The guests can either choose, or you could even make candles during the Blessingway. When the Mom goes into labor, she will notify someone to contact this special group of people who will light the candle and then pray for the family through the birth.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Make a cord of three strands out of ribbons or yarn. These strands can symbolize this strength, the trinity, the strength of a marriage which includes God, and the three lives intimately tied together in this new life. Have the guests stand in a circle with the Mom at the center. Tie the long strand first around Mom's wrist, and then around every guest's wrist around the circle. After everyone is tied together in prayer, cut the cords between the guests apart. During her labor, the guests can wear these cords and prayer for the family.
As you can see, there are many options for this celebration, you could even make a whole weekend out of it! One of the things I really love about this celebration is that it is appropriate to bless and celebrate every pregnancy, every birth, every miracle that God blesses us with. This can be a larger celebration, or an intimate affair. It offers whatever will bless this Mom, this baby, and this family. I hope these ideas inspire you to celebrate this incredible time in a deeper way and can see how we can walk this journey together in a Faith filled way.