If you're not so fond of the idea of a baby shower, especially for subsequent kids, or you don't like the material aspect of them, there's a great alternative.
A Mother Blessing, or a Blessingway, focuses solely on the mother and her birth. Generally a gathering for closer friends, sisters, grandmothers, even your midwife or doula, a Blessingway gives the mother encouragement, support, and pampering, and helps her prepare for her birth and motherhood. It can also be done for adoption as well.
Blessingway, roughly translated from Navajo, means "one sung over" or "for good hope." It's a word for everything that is not negative: beauty, harmony, success, perfection, well-being, ordered, ideal.
If the mother is religious, this can be made to tailor to her religious beliefs as well, no matter what religion you are.
In modern day times, obviously we're not going to do it quite the same way, but you can have a very lovely, personal, beautiful gathering with family and friends. Because we don't quite do it like the Navajo though, often the term Mother Blessing is preferred, to differentiate between their ceremony and our modern gathering.
Because of the more personal nature of a Mother Blessing, it's generally wise that the mother either write or have a say in the guest list. It wouldn't be very comforting for her to have people there she is uncomfortable with.
Some activities at a Mother Blessing include familiar things like helping make a belly cast, and everyone agreeing upon different days they'll bring her food after the birth (or that they'll bring frozen food, if the freezer space is available), or even agreeing upon chores they'll come aid the new mother in.
But lesser known things to most moms are some of the more special aspects:
A prayer flag or book doesn't consist of just one image, but is composed of many little pieces of cloth or paper that each guest has decorated and written a supportive or loving message or image. This can be done before the shower (where people are likely to put more thought into it) or at the shower itself as an activity. The finished product can be assembled into a book, put on a poster board or cloth, or can be sewn onto a big wall-hanging or each piece hemmed with a loop so it can be threaded on a string that can be hung up across a wall. These serve as a visual reminder of the support of the mother's family and friends, and the phrases or images are intended to also be supportive (birth affirmations would be a great choice). You could even use newborn onesies and string them up through the armholes.
A necklace for the mother is a common part of a Mother Blessing. All guests bring or even make from clay and paint (a good activity at the blessing) a bead for a necklace. These should be with the mother in mind, and again, the intention is to let her have a visual, tangible symbol of the love and support she has. Some Type-A moms may prefer if people do two beads for symmetry, but this is up to you. This necklace is intended to be worn during labor and delivery, or has even been made into something like a rosary where everyone has said a prayer over their bead for the mother before stringing it on.
Having everyone bring a candle for the mother to light during her labor or to bless at the ceremony/gathering and then take home again with the promise to light them for the mother while she is in labor is another element common to Mother Blessings. One of my friends had people bring candles they blessed for her to light, and she sent them home with candles of their own for them to light for her.
Pampering the mom is a well-loved tradition. Whether she's given a foot massage, a pedicure, a manicure, or all of the above, remember that this is about support and love for her.
This option is still relatively new to me and I really wish I'd done one with my second pregnancy. It seems so comforting and meaningful.
For those of you who this isn't a new concept, what would you add?
Image via indigenousdoula