By Victoria Dunn

08th December 2016

One of the most sacred celebrations of a woman’s life is her blessingway or birth ceremony

By Victoria Dunn

08th December 2016

By Victoria Dunn

08th December 2016

For mums-to-be, preparing for the birth of a new baby might mean shopping for baby clothes and going to antenatal classes. But for many women those final weeks of pregnancy can also be a time for gathering friends together for a simple ceremony to prepare for the birth and a new life. Groups of women are coming together for supportive gatherings which take different names, sometimes called Baby Blessings, Mother Blessings, Blessingways, Seventh Moons or Birthing Ceremonies. Whatever the name, the purpose is broadly similar: to bring close female friends and relatives together to offer support and love in the final weeks of pregnancy; to give their loved one encouragement for the birth, and to recognise the arrival of a new life. The blessings can vary widely, combining a social gathering with ritual and perhaps the chance to do something creative and crafty together.

hiring a doula as celebrant

Alexci Swann, 32, felt it was important to be emotionally prepared for the birth of her second child. Alexci, already mum to five-year-old Laila, was in the eighth month of her pregnancy when she asked Raminder Speedwell, a doula, to host a baby blessing for her. Around ten close friends were invited to the blessing, which was held at Alexci’s home in Gloucestershire, in the very room in which she intended to have her homebirth. Raminder has hosted several blessings and explains that it can often be easier for a neutral person to host a celebration of this kind: “Women can have a very diverse group of friends who may find it easier to honour the sacredness if a ‘third party’ holds the evening,” says Raminder. “Often at blessings I find women who aren’t used to sitting in a circle but they all really love it. There’s so much sharing that goes on. I love doing it – it really brings women together.”

symbols of motherhood

Raminder invited Alexci’s guests to bring items representing motherhood to create a small ‘altar’ on the mantelpiece and it featured a Hindu goddess, a figure of Mary and Celtic goddess Brigid. The circle shared thoughts on motherhood and read poems by, amongst others, Kahlil Gilbran and Maya Angelou. Many baby blessing ceremonies also have a craft element. Alexci’s guests brought something to hang on a mobile for her new baby – either a handmade gift or something natural – and share their wishes for Alexci and her new child. The result is beautiful. Alongside other treasures, there’s a peacock feather, an embroidered bird, and a dried seed pod. It’s a wonderful reminder of the thoughts and good wishes from Alexci’s friends. Balls of wool were passed around the circle and each woman took a turn to weave the wool into a continuous plait, before it was cut and made into friendship bracelets for them each to wear - representing their support for Alexci. “We wore the bracelets for the next few weeks as a reminder that we were holding Alexci in our thoughts until her baby was born,” explains Raminder. And a blessing can also create a lasting network of support for a new mum, with women arranging to text each other or co-ordinate bringing food for the new mum after the birth.

one female consciousness

For Alexci, the bracelets were an important symbol. “In those last weeks of pregnancy you need to connect to yourself, to your baby and to the ‘Earth Mother’ or however you like to conceptualise feminine power,” she says. “You have to face labour on your own, but I think there’s great strength in knowing that so many women have done it since the beginning of time. I found it helpful and powerful to connect to that ‘one female consciousness’. “If you feel supported, whether that’s practically or emotionally, you can approach the birth feeling calmer. The ceremony made the room feel ready for the birth. It felt how I wanted it to be,” says Alexci. And a couple of weeks later she gave birth in that same room to her son River, supported by partner, Sam, and her midwife.

blessing the home birth room

Baby Blessings can take many forms. Another mum-to-be, Pam, also preparing for the birth of her second child, invited friends to share a meal and to help ‘bless’ the room she intended to use for her home birth. “We held a short meditation in the room before sharing poems, thoughts and just chatting. It was a lovely relaxed afternoon. It was very important to me to recognise the specialness of the space before the birth.”

In the final weeks of pregnancy a baby blessing is not usually something that a mum-to-be wants to organise herself. “When my dear friend Kirsty suggested organising a baby blessing for me, I was grateful, although uncertain of what it would involve,” said another mum, Isobel.

a gift to a friend

“I didn’t want my blessing ceremony to be too formal, or too esoteric,” says Isobel, now mum to four year old Oscar. “I have a diverse group of friends and wanted everyone to feel relaxed and included. Kirsty was very good at doing that, gently inviting everyone to share their thoughts. And they had all made beautiful gifts for a mobile. It was fun and special. It marked the transition in my life.” Isobel explains that blessings have now become a ‘tradition’ within her circle of friends. “I had never heard of them before and was very grateful to Kirsty. Recently I mentioned it to a pregnant friend, and then organised a baby blessing for her. It felt like a gift that new mums can pass on to each other!”

Create Your Own Blessing Ceremony

DELEGATE If you’re pregnant, don’t take on the organisation - ask a friend. Better still, if your friend is pregnant, offer. It ’s a beautiful gift.

HONOUR THE SPACE Create a sacred space. Isobel created a simple centerpiece by placing a woolfelt ‘baby’ in a bowl of flowers on a table - “I felt a baby should be at the heart of things!”. And Pam was delighted when her friend made a decorated willow arch over the door to the room she planned for her home birth which all guests had to pass through.

PLAN A CEREMONY The evening, or afternoon, could have several elements, a circle with poems or a brief meditation, the hanging of gifts on a mobile, followed by the creation of friendship bands, and even some ‘pampering’, such as a foot or shoulder massage for mum-to-be.

BRING GIFTS Gifts for a mobile can take many forms. Sea shells, feathers and dried seed pods hung on pretty ribbons will delight a baby as will homemade felt hearts or birds, or decorated pine cones. Ask the guests to share their thoughts on the impending birth as they hang their gifts.


READ Mother Rising: The Blessingway Journey into Motherhood by Yana Cortlund

EXPLORE Raminder Speedwell is happy to discuss blessing ceremonies. Contact her on [email protected]

SUPPORT Earthess runs Blessingway ceremonies for expectant mothers as a sacred rite of passage as they move from the Maiden to the Mother archetype, or as they open their energy to loving embrace another child. Find out more at