Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

How About a Mother Blessing?

A Mother Blessing is a special celebration to encourage and pamper the soon-to-birth mama. It is a gathering of women you count as your closest friends, the ones who share your joy in your pregnancy, believe in your ability to give birth, and will be keeping you in their thoughts and prayers as you go through labour, birth and those precious first weeks with your new baby. These are women who've trod the path before you, or are soon to follow in your footsteps. Babies, born and unborn, feature delightfully at Mother Blessing, which are baby and breast-feeding friendly.

You've probably been to Baby Showers. The focus tends to be upon the baby soon to be born, and on the giving of gifts that the mother will use when caring for her baby. Decades ago, when times were hard and people's lives weren't overwhelmed with materialism, this providing of practical gifts & clothing, many of which may have been hand-made, may have been an essential way to ensure the new mother had what she needed to care for her baby.

In our culture today, there are so few ways to honor the mother to be. We make an attempt during baby showers, but for the most part this turns into a simple showering of gifts for the baby and does nothing for the mother in terms of the rite of passage she is about to go through. This sacred time in the mother's life deserves more than gifts of car seats, dummies and baby wipes.

At a Mother Blessing, the focus is on encouraging and empowering the woman herself, as she is the one who will work to bring the baby safely earth-side. Rather than the giving of things, it is about the giving of time, care, friendship and attention that helps the woman feel loved, supported and cherished.

One mother said to me, "I've got enough *stuff*. I don't need more material goods. What I need is a sense of community, of being connected to other women, of knowing I don't have to do this alone. I don't want to play party games, I want to be able to honestly express my joys and fears, and to hear women I feel close to speaking from their hearts."

If this is you, perhaps a Mother Blessing is just what you need to 'bless the way' to your birth.

Here are some ideas for making a Mother Blessing special:

* The birthing necklace
Each guest brings a special bead to string on a necklace or bracelet for the mother during labour. As she gives the gift, she may like to share the significance of the bead and why she chose it for her friend. During her hours of hard work, each bead reminds her of the person who gave it to her, who is thinking of her at this moment. The necklace symbolizes the strength of our shared experiences as mothers and women.

* The Mother Blessing bracelet string
 A ball of beautiful string is used to connect each woman's wrist to one another's in the circle. Often the string is red but it can be any colour you like. When the cord connects all of you, explains that this unites you all as sisters and represents the circle of friendship and the circle of life. Then the mother-to-be walks around the circle and cuts the cord in between each person, leaving a good long length in between so each woman has enough string to wrap it around her wrist and fashion a bracelet from it. (I love this part, it takes me back to my hippie-frienship- bracelet -wearing days!) The bracelet is worn to remind each woman to hold this mother in their thoughts and prayers as she draws near to birth. It is amazing the stories that emerge of just *when* the blessingway bracelets fall off!

* Candles
Each guest can give the mother a special candle that she may use in her birth room during her labour. The mother-to-be may also like to give each of her guests a candle for them to light when they hear news that she is in labour. The candle stays lit until the baby arrives.

*Belly casting
If you can find someone who knows how to do this, it can be a lot of fun. Either to have the guests cast the mothers belly and breasts, or to have the cast already done and ready for the guests to paint or decorate.

* Henna painting
If belly casting proves too time-consuming, here is another idea: using henna to decorate the mother's bump. This is really fun, and seeing the artistic expression of the different women present is delightful. Mothers speak of feeling their baby kick during this painting, as if enjoying the fun and attention.

Some beautiful henna supplies are available from Blissful Herbs, with everything from a easy-to-use tubes for the beginner, to state of the art kits for the connoisseur.

* Foot and hand washing
The feet or hands can be gently washed and dried, then smoothed and massaged with oils. The midwife, doula, mother or mother-figure is usually the one to honour the mother-to-be in this way. It can provide a wonderful time for guests to bestow quiet words of love and encouragement. You can purchase some colourful, fragrant Mother Blessing footbath herbs here

A blend of fragrant herbs and colourful petals called Mother Blessing petals is available from Blissful Herbs. A 25g packet is $5.00 and a 50g packet is $8.50

* Hair brushing and plaiting.
This is another way to nurture and pamper the mother-to-be. If there is a brush that is, for example, an heirloom, this can act as a way to connect the mother to her fore-mothers. Adorning her hair with flowers or beads can add a special touch.

* The sharing of songs.
You may like to have each guest sing a lullaby their mother used to sing, or one they have used with their own children. Some women present may have a particular song or hymn they would like to sing especially for the mother-to-be.

* The telling of stories.
My roots are in the Celtic tradition, where no gathering is complete without song, story telling and, hopefully, dance. So I love the idea of story-sharing at Mother Blessings. It may be a story from real life that will be uplifting to the mother, a story of birth, of how you met her and how she has blessed your life, or a fable. Some people may have a special prayer, poem or reading they want to share.

* Quilting.
This is such a meaningful gift that will be treasured for life. You may ask in the invitation for each guest to bring a customized quilt square that tells of a certain quality the mother possesses. Either assemble the quilt at the Mother Blessing, or assign a friend to complete the quilt and present it to the mother and baby after the birth. This will become an heirloom that tells a story about the mother.

* Keepsake Journal.
This can be passed around during the foot washing or hair brushing for the guests to write down inspiration thoughts or poems. After the birth the mother might like to write down her birth story in this book. A book that is specially bound with fabric and decorated with symbols significant to the mother will make it extra personalised.

* Nurture basket
In the invitation, instead of baby gifts, ask the guests to bring a gift that would uplift, inspire, or nurture the mother. Let your imagination run free! It is remarkable the creative and loving ideas women come up with. From hand-made shawls and hip-huggers, gift certificate for a massage or restaurant, bath herbs, drawings or photos, teas or chocolates, there are so many ways to make the mother-to-be feel cherished.

Here are some photos from some beautiful Mother Blessings I've been honoured to attend.

A special reading for Laura.

There's lots of heartfelt hugs at a Mother Blessing

Laura soaks up the love - tears like stars on her cheeks.

Mother Blessings are baby-friendly

Tanja's beautiful bump

Tanja's candle.

And here are some photos from my own Mother Blessing:

 My beautiful daughter designed my belly henna

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,
I love your website, there is a lot of valuable information. I didn't know it was called a blessingway, but when I finally am lucky enough to be pregnant with my second child I am going to do this and will use a couple of your suggestions that I hadn't thought of. I also intend to have a lady come and do a belly dancing workshop to get everyone in the mood so that when I'm in labour I can remember everyone swaying their hips. We did do the birthing bracelet for a friend and she really appreciated it, and I have seen her wear it post birth.
thanks again