The idea of a Mother’s Blessing is based on a sacred Navajo ritual called a Blessing Way.
Modern women created the Mother’s Blessing (sometimes called a Birthing Way) and based it on the Blessing Way, with the intention of strengthening, empowering, and preparing the new mother for her journey through birth and new motherhood.
At my Mother’s Blessing, each guest brought three things: a thought, poem, or scripture to share; a bead; and a meal for my family’s freezer. Unlit candles were set up around the room, and the guests sat in chairs arranged in a circle. Each woman introduced herself, shared her words (the thought, poem, or scripture) and lit a candle. Finally, each woman strung her bead onto a long thread and we collectively made a birthing necklace that I would wear during my labor, a symbol of the long chain of mothers, and the support these women offered. Each woman took a fresh candle with her when she left, as well as the phone number of another woman. Later, everyone’s sacred words were put into an album for me to keep.
When my labor started a friend initiated the phone chain. Within an hour, each woman who had been at my Mother’s Blessing knew I was in labor, lit her candle and offered a prayer (whatever that meant to her) for my safe and gentle birthing, and for a healthy baby. As I labored through that beautiful September morning, I felt the cool weight of my birthing necklace around my neck, a calming reminder that I was not alone.
I still have that birthing necklace and the album from my Mother’s Blessing. One of my favorite poems in the album was written by my dear friend Katie.
Your Body Is A Universe
By Kathleen Mitchell-Askar
Your body is a universe
Cells shining like stars
When the planet behind your navel
Loosens from your womb
Let the hum of creation
Fill the rivers, your veins.
This is the current we share,
This is the birth that binds us.
Let the mothers of the ages
Be the banks to gird your waters
Let your breath be the wave
That smooths sensations.
Pain and glory will join in a push
And the rush of life,
The first inspired breath,
Another shining universe,
Your baby boy.
Your love will be his gravity.
Ground him in peace.
Paris Maloof-Bury, MSN, CNM, RNC-OB, IBCLC, is a certified nurse-midwife and lactation consultant at Sutter Health in Davis, CA.