Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to be a part of a learning group focused on the sacred Navajo ceremony- the Blessing Way. It was trans-formative for me and falls deeply aligned with my personal views of birth as a rite of passage and the spiritual and powerful nature of motherhood. I decided to certify as a Mother Blessing Planner and I have been completing pieces of that process these last months.
I have loved each and every part and now I am ready to share with you. Isn't that a lovely bit of life? We gain truths and knowledge and then we turn to bless our fellow sisters and brothers with that abundance. I just don't see it mattering in any way unless it's shared as gift to edify all.
Please enjoy some tidbits about Mother Blessings and when you make it to the end of the post there's a fantastic offer for you there.
What is a Mother Blessing or Blessing Way? Is there a difference?
"A mother's blessing is an intimate party inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessing way. The ceremony is held to prepare an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey — to shower mom-to-be with love, support and encouragement. The act of birth is seen as a rite of passage for women, and this is meant to help a woman feel mentally, physically and emotionally ready to give birth. A mother's blessing is a modern ceremony that can give moms-to-be a similar sense of support and honor as Navajo mothers-to-be have received in traditional blessing ways." (Lara Carlos, The Barefoot Mamas Network)
So as not to crudely appropriate this sacred tradition we will always use the term 'Mother Blessing' when referring to this modern adaptation. We are looking to honor it, the past, and our future Motherhood when we gather in this way. A dear friend of mine once taught me about 'Sankofa' it means looking back or going back in order to go forward. There is wisdom in our ancestors and our ancient cultures, it is all around us.
What happens at a Mother Blessing?
A Mother Blessing is a ceremonial gathering of the most important women in the expectant mother's life. Surround and uplifted by these women, the mom gains confidence in the journey that lay before her.
"Surrounded by the most important women in her life, she gains a sense of power, confidence, and support that will help her gracefully enter the initiation of motherhood."
Each guest may bring a poem, scripture, quote, song that they wish to present to the mom and also a bead (of significant meaning) that will be made into a bracelet for mom to keep with her during her labor. There may also be a cleansing ritual with sage smudging, the telling of positive birth stories, henna tattoos, honoring mom with massage or foot baths, art, salt bowls, and so on. It is the preference of the mother, how she would like to commemorate her passage. There is usually also yummy food, tears, laughter, and of course, connection.
Is a Mother Blessing right for me?
Any woman who feels drawn to the divine and would appreciate an intimate gathering of "mother friends" while preparing to become a mother for the first or twelfth time can have a Mother Blessing. There is no specific religion, creed, spiritual path necessary. A Mother Blessing is not a "baby shower". Most women who choose Mother Blessings have a separate baby shower to gather more family and friends together and then she participates in the Mother Blessing with her closer circle of sisters (10-15 or less, usually).
What about traditional gifts?
Other than the bead for the Mother's bracelet, a poem, something of art made there and maybe a plate of food to share, there are no gifts given at Mother's Blessing. The memories and powerful connected-ness experienced there, along with the solidarity of that circle while mom is in labor is the gift we bestow upon her. As a participant, you may go home with a string bracelet, specially blessed bath salt, and/or candle to light when mom goes into labor.
When should you have your Mother Blessing?
A Mother Blessing is usually held toward the end of the pregnancy, 35 weeks - 40 weeks. It serves as a boost of good energy for the Mother and can help to resolve any outstanding fears or trepidation holding Mom back as she approaches her birthing day.
How can you plan or have a Mother Blessing?
It's not overly complicated to plan or host a Mother Blessing. It can be even simpler than a baby shower! You may do some internet and pinterest searching, blog reading, and hunting around in local stores to bring together a Mother Blessing for yourself or your expectant friend or family. You may also want to consider hiring a planner so that you and all other attendees can just be present and edified. Each woman who offers this service is usually also a doula, childbirth educator, midwife, Red Tent host, or otherwise enlightened individual. Their rates vary with the size of gathering and which elements the expectant mother would like. They can organize, handle invites, help you find a location, decorate your locale, find a henna tattoo artist, do your belly casting, bring all the supplies, call your sister circle when labor begins and some even handle food dishes!
Of course you guessed from the beginning that something amazing would happen here at the end--probably because I said so up there! :) Well here it is-
I am looking for a mother birthing in the months of January to April 2017 who is interested in a Mother Blessing.
To complete my certification as a planner, I must plan and carry out one entire Blessing. This is not so much a "giveaway" as it is an offer and blessed gift from me to you, to participate in this vital and powerful ceremony for your upcoming passage from Maiden to Mother.
UPDATE- MAMA FOUND and BLESSING HAPPENING NEXT MONTH!!
Please contact me if this speaks to your soul and you are my 'mother'. You can comment below, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me directly at 832-518-7879. I would love to hear from you and help you have the sacred experience that you deserve.
Love and Light- Katrina
The Gift of Giving Life (Essay on Mother-Centered Baby Showers, Robyn Allgood)
Sacred Essence- Mother Blessings 2016, Jessica Booth and Jessica Smithson
*If you enjoyed reading and learning about Mother Blessings, please comment and let me know! And consider sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and connect with me online!
"So tell me..."
This is how a lot of conversations start for me these days. It's followed by an array of questions which usually leads to lots of good conversations about how amazing our bodies are and how precious and special birth can be and occasionally some skepticism of my passions for something so seemingly "out of the norm", whatever that means. All these conversations have prompted to be proactive with a blog post and so...
Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions I get asked about HypnoBirthing®.
1- "What is HypnoBirthing®?"
"HypnoBirthing is a tried and proven method that guides and prepares a woman in giving birth in a peaceful and extraordinarily beautiful manner. It is a program a that considers the psychological, as well as the physical, well-being of the mother, her birth partner, and the newborn, independent of context, whether that be in the quiet of a home, a hospital, or a birth center. The HypnoBirthing program is built around an educational process that includes special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Most importantly it fosters an air of mutual respect for the birthing family, as well as the health-care provider in a traditional health-care system or an alternative setting."
So there it is, folks. It's one part the true understanding that birth is a normal, physiological, non-medical event; and one part how to relax and breathe and be a part of the process whilst enjoying it as nature intended. Need more? Read this!
2- "Why should I enroll in a HypnoBirthing® course?" aka "What's the point of Childbirth Education?"
A) Sometimes it's tricky for us to understand that while everyone who may be part of our birth process wants "to do a good job", we are really the only ones acting in our own best interest. See! My BA in Economics has not failed me yet! You are the person responsible for you and yet you are at a HUGE disadvantage! Unless you have intimate insider knowledge (aka been to medical school and work at the hospital) you need to do more to be prepared than just a friendly tour of the grounds.
So many women and families walk into birth or into the actual hospital feeling extremely unprepared and nervous. Hospital environments making people uncomfortable? WHAT? haha. Just ask Jim Gaffigan.
So what's a girl to do?
Take a childbirth class.
Take a good childbirth class. HypnoBirthing just might be that class for you, I'd love to chat about it, BUT it might not-- there are tons of really awesome childbirth education programs out there. I know Bradley instructors, Birth Boot Camp teachers, hypnobabies instructors, Dancing for birth teachers, Christian Childbirth educators, and so on! These are all mostly independently taught courses, independent from the hospital offered classes, with good reason.
"Contemporary women in our culture hold an unprecedented fear of giving birth, too often associating it with excruciating pain, thereby causing their bodies to become unable to perform what should be a normal physiological function. HypnoBirthing® is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education enhanced by self‑hypnosis and guided imagery techniques that allow women to use their natural abilities to bring about safer, easier, and more comfortable birthing.
HypnoBirthing® teaches a woman how to release all prior programming about birth to free herself of limiting thoughts and emotions that lead to pain-causing fear and resistant muscles. When giving birth with HypnoBirthing®, a mother is not in a trance or asleep but instead in a state of deep relaxation—awake, aware, and fully in control."
If this sounds right to you and sounds like how you would like to prepare for and experience birth, take HypnoBirthing!
B) If you're preparing for a home birth or birth center experience, the same concept applies! While you may not find grand opposition to (and most frequently you'll have LOTS of support for) your desires for a natural birth, YOU are still the one that will be laboring and birthing with your baby, YOU are still the one that needs to be prepared and needs the accurate knowledge of birth. And I'll add your companion aka "daddy" aka "mommy" needs to know and support that too. We don't do enough positive birth sharing and teaching in our own families and social circles anymore, reach out and educate yourself. You'll be glad you did!
3- "At what point in pregnancy is a good time to take HypnoBirthing®?
Most of the moms and families I have associated with enroll and take HypnoBirthing during their second trimester. Think 20ish weeks! That being said, you can never start too early. You'll just have more daily mind conditioning and relaxation opportunities and be more than adequately prepared for labor. ALSO moms who want to get started and are at 35+ weeks still have options. Several instructors will arrange a modified schedule for you and/or private instruction so that you can get the information and be calm and prepared prior to labor. I have worked with a mom just starting at 38 weeks before! You can still be successful even if you get a late start... however don't rush yourself though, it's counter-intuitive to stress about HypnoBirthing classes and preparing hastily for what you hope will be a calm birth.
4- "What's the difference between HypnoBirthing® and... _______?" (fill in blank with any other method childbirth education or hypnosis for birth method)
Ah *sigh*, this question. I love this question.
The truth? The truth is that I don't know! Ok, Ok, I'm being a tad trite to prove my point. However, I am a licensed HypnoBirthing practitioner. It wouldn't be fair of me to tell you all about what others are doing and start comparing when I'm not authorized to do so. I am very familiar with several of the other methods and yet I would rather you gather all the info for yourself, it's empowering to do so. I can't think of anything negative about any other method. We are not competition. It's about finding what resonates with you! Do I believe I'm working with the best? OF COURSE! All of us do or we wouldn't be doing it. There are lots of "best" out there. What's the best for you?
I can tell you that HypnoBirthing® IS the original method of self-hypnosis for childbirth. It was developed by a mom and grandmother that was seeking earnestly to share the joy of childbirth and the power of the mind with her family and all women. It's beautiful, it's not contrived. It's a restoration of what birth was always intended to be! It's not a distraction method or a way of dealing with the pain; it's a way of harnessing your own relaxation, your own intuition, your own power to birth. Did you know you were so powerful? Want to know more? Contact me!
5- "Can I just the read the book?"
Sure! You can. Lots of ladies do it that way. I can tell you though that you'll be missing out some of the most powerful aspects of HypnoBirthing if you "just read the book". It's also hard to know if you're doing it right if you can't check in with an expert. There is lots of time to check in with your HypnoBirthing® practitioner, practice the breathing, and positioning techniques, and participate in guided visualizations so that you can tune into what hypnotic relaxation really feels like for you.
Other things to consider: Taking the full course allows you to ask all your questions, access additional relaxation scripts, includes all 20+ professional handouts and extra audio relaxations. You can also get to know other couples, those that will be birthing around the same time as you and become your new "play date" friends.
Bottom line on this- Birth is personal AND communal. We all need a guide, your guide is your birth companion. Maybe that's baby's father, mother, grandmother, aunt, doula -- he or she is your partner, they are your guide. Allow what's shared in the course to empower that person to be the guide that you need them to be. Allow the course to enlighten and empower you to achieve the calm, joyful birth you want and deserve.
6- "Who should (can) come with me to class?"
Going right along with my last thought on the previous question- bring your guide: bring whomever you need! Most often moms want their spouse or partner there. Pick your #1 birth support person. Bring them! Patrick Houser says, "Mom is pregnant with the baby. But Father is pregnant with the whole family" (Fathers-To-Be, 2009)
I also strongly suggest bringing along anyone that you are going to have support you at the birth. This could be your sister, your best friend, your mom (I have more thoughts on this, call me up, rant warning). Or a doula! Doulas love to support your desires for birth! However, you can't assume that any of your chosen support people are familiar enough with HypnoBirthing® to already know what to do to support you. HypnoBirthing gives you lots of options to help inform those that will be supporting you! I only limit the number of people you can bring by how many comfy seats are available.
7- "Can you control me, like read my mind and make me do stuff?"
Are you getting sleepy? Are you? HA! Well it's probably only because you are still reading this insanely long post!
The short answer to this is NO! Absolutely not.
Many of us think of stage hypnotists and some funny experience where you barked like a dog or strutted on stage like a chicken. This is all a show. These people are highly skilled at reading you and your susceptibility to suggestion. Think Sherlock Holmes. They combine that with the highly energetic atmosphere and your wanting to have a good time. Truly only those most uninhibited are any fun at a stage hypnotist show.
It's not about what a real hypnotist or hypnotherapist can do to you, it's about what they can do for you. And actually it's really about what they can assist you to do for yourself!
All hypnosis is SELF-hypnosis. You cannot be made to do anything that you wouldn't otherwise be wiling to do. We all have natural, regulated patterns of brain waves and you go in and out of hypnosis thousands of times everyday. Want to know more on this? Contact me!
8- "I have ______ or I will have to have ____ while in labor, can I HypnoBirth?" (fill in the blanks with some special circumstance or condition)
YES! There is no condition in which preparing for labor and birth with HypnoBirthing is not applicable.
"Birth is unpredictable, and special circumstances can arise. Whether you have a special circumstance that requires intervention, or have a planned caesarean, HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method will prepare you for whatever turn your birthing takes.When medical interventions, such as caesareans are necessary, it can be a life saving wonder that saves mother and baby’s lives. When birthing mothers require a caesarean section [or other intervention], the HypnoBirthing® techniques are useful in helping mothers and birth companions to stay calm and relaxed."
No matter what may befall you or what you choose, HypnoBirthing is for you. Moms and frequently fathers and birth companions tell me that find the methods of relaxation and stress reduction super helpful at work and in their day-to-day life! HypnoBirthing® has even improved couples' communication and empathy for one another.
Want to chat about specific special circumstances? Contact me!
Check out this page for more on that- HypnoBirthing® Preparation for Caesarean Birth
9- "I want to HypnoBirth but my family thinks it's nutsy, what can I do?"
You have options! I have worked with a handful of mums that say their birth companion would never support their decision, won't come to classes OR that their own mom/dad doesn't approve.
This really boils down to a lack of understanding and empathy. I can almost guarantee that they are fearful. And they don't realize that their fear is hurting you. They don't know what you know about HypnoBirthing. You can educate them, you can share the "what" and the "why". Ask them to listen. These people are your dear ones. Can they open their minds and hearts to your desires? Do they have really tough questions and doubts? Ask that they read the book, come to class with you, or meet up with your HypnoBirthing practitioner.
In classes, some of most initially skeptical companions are those that become some the greatest advocates and most proficient at self-relaxation and the tools of HypnoBirthing. True story! Ask my husband. :)
In very rare instances, moms have had to forge onward alone. Moms who do understand that ONLY those who can support her are those that should be welcome at her labor and baby's birth. They (and you) cannot afford to have anyone in attendance that brings fear, baggage, stress, personal doubts or opinions. It becomes a "hijacking" of mom's and baby's experience and in severe cases completely derails mom of her natural path and beautiful birthing experience. Do not hesitate to do what's best for you and your baby!
10- "Does HypnoBirthing® really work? aka Can I have a pain free birth?"
YES, but maybe not.
YES it does work! But it depends on you. The factual, physiological effects are all true (call me up if you want to chat brain/body science!). It's there for the taking. You, however, cannot dismiss the value of daily practice and reprogramming your own mind and harnessing that power. Take all the tools you've gained and make them work for you in whatever situation that you need to! One cannot "try" HypnoBirthing. Your subconscious does not recognize "try" it must DO.
For the "pain free" bit-
"HypnoBirthing® does not offer pain free or painless birth; we subscribe to the belief that birth can be easier and more comfortable when mom is relaxed and supported by caregivers who respect what she and her birth companion are doing."
Your labor may be entirely enjoyable! Open your mind to the possibility! Lots of moms report that as part of their laboring outcomes. HypnoBirthing moms report that they were able to maintain energy, and comfort, which set them up for better bonding and breastfeeding postpartum. Often moms' labors are shorter in length and baby seems to just gently glide into the world. Moms also report happier postpartum emotions overall!
During labor and birth- they say they feel pressure, tightening, tingling, numbness, as if their body is working but they are still comfortable. Your body will be work WITH you and you with it, rather than against or at odds with each other. That fear, tension and stress is what creates undue pain in our physical bodies. Imagine if you eliminated the fear, tension and stress what your body and your baby could do! Trust your baby. Trust the process; trust birth!
References and Sources-
www.fatherstobe.org and the Fathers-To-Be Handbook by Patrick M. Houser
Utah State University, Hunstman School of Business, BA in Economics
Photo Courtesy of The HypnoBirthing® Institute
The picture up above is OUT OF DATE, but it already shows that a lot of birth has happened in my family! I include it to give you an idea of the legacy my mama and papa are creating. I'm so grateful they have followed their intuition and kept that spirit in our home and family. It is the same I am trying to instill in my family. Our family narratives are a wonderful (birthday) gift. :)
Actually, I don't have access to the conscious memory of my birth. Some do, they have been able to reach that portion of their brain through hypnosis, regression work, or simply by triggers of muscle memory. I think that it can be a beautiful thing, healing for many.
I do, however, have knowledge of my birth as my own mother has recounted it to me several times throughout my childhood and even a little bit today as we spoke on the phone. (Today is my birthday.) She is actually writing up my birth as she remembers it and I'll share that with you soon.
For now here is what I remember:
-my mother's first child was stillborn and she still has an emptiness and longing for this beautiful baby boy, Anthony.
-she had three children after that, one boy and two girls. (my awesome older brother and rad sisters!)
-that she and my father were firmly done having children after my older sister was born.
-one day when she was vacuuming she heard a voice, completely clear as if someone was physically standing in the room with her.
-the voice told her that she was to have another baby.
-she didn't believe it as first, or at least she wasn't totally sure that it was a good idea.
-(i think) my dad came home that day and said that he had a similar impression.
-they followed their intuition, spiritual prompting, from the messenger (I'm obviously glad that they did).
-i was small and came a little early, but healthy.
-my birth was the only one where my mother had an epidural (it was not available prior to that), she loved it.
-immediately following that she had an emergency hysterectomy because her ovaries were covered in tumors.
-that surgery has affected much of the rest of her life as have the births of her children.
-when I talk to her about her experiences in labor she's calm, she has nothing but love for all her babies and considers them to be great blessings in her life.
Birth can truly be beautiful in ALL its forms. I'm so glad my mom was able to have healing birth experiences, bond with us, and access that connection to the cosmos and feel apart of something bigger than us all- creation and miracle of life.
Blessings and Happy Birthing Ya'll!
References and Sources-
"As more of humanity practices heart-based living it will qualify the 'rite of passage' into the next level of consciousness. Using our heart's intuitive guidance, will become common sense- based on practical intelligence." -Doc Childre, Founder of HeartMath
First off- I must acknowledge the transformative weekend I had. I was witness to some of the most sacred knowledge and culture I will ever experience. I DO NOT say this lightly or to exaggerate. Our society is good at that- exaggerating and desensitizing poignant words. I will not.
Gena Kirby of the Progressive Parenting Network is truly an enlightened individual. Her work and vision are one from the cosmos. It's difficult even to explain the ways in which I feel changed -in my work with birth families and HypnoBirthing classes of course, but also in my calling as a mom to two precious boys, and in my life as a spiritual being sharing this mortal state with all of you. I will share a little bit of my enlightenment with you on what I thought was going to be in the very least a great birth workshop--turned into something so much more.
On Saturday, we started with our Rebozo workshop (which is SO much more than a piece of fabric) here I write on Birth Heart and Intuition. It's going to be a journey but I can promise that if your heart and mind are open you will begin to envision the sanctity as I did and you can capture the importance of the heart and intuition.
Ok ready? Here we go!
Did you know that your heart emits electromagnetic pulses? Some of you might be saying, "Uh... yes, Katrina, that's a heart beat!" Of course you are right! This sounds simplistic, but I don't think you've ever thought about it quite like this:
You have the spiky bumps, you know, the super tall ones (that's the scientific name, of course) to indicate the BEEP! Or the beat of your heart. Have you ever thought about the the space in between the spikes? Those are your emotions!! Your heart and your brain send signals back and forth to code one another with the activity they should pursue. Brain can tell heart to speed up- stress, exercise, etc. Or slow down- meditation, sleep, etc. Heart can signal back to brain and so on. They are good buddies.
Well, the electromagnetic pulses and what's going on in spaces in between those beats are not contained within your body alone. Check out this video to see how that works and why it's important! The scientists at The Institute of HeartMath are not messing around-
Did you watch it? Did you SEE? Did you catch the vision of this? We can affect the environment around us just with our thoughts, emotions, intuition, and intent! This is one reason why you can:
-tell something is wrong with someone even when they say that they are fine.
-feel the weird-ish feeling in the air when there's tension, or sadness even if you just arrived.
-get super jazzed/"high" in a group with a collective goal = synergy
-look into someone's eye and just know, just understand one another without words =empathy
-hug someone to make them feel better, feel your warmth and love for them
-be uncomfortable somewhere and can't exactly explain why
-note the change in a group of strangers after they've gotten to know one another a bit, just by "holding space" and feeling it. (Need to know what I mean by "holding space"? Check this out- Nurture Birth Services)
The list goes on and on!
We are all connected. There are others of our brothers and sisters who need to draw upon our pulses; we need to give and receive these pulses to provide our life with that essential connectivity and meaning we are all striving for. Imagine and embrace the possibilities with me!
What does any this all have to do with birth? Sure-- a birth worker must only be blogging about birth! lol. The same applications apply in any area! In class one of HypnoBirthing we discuss this principle at length. This is encompasses nearly all of the Laws of the Mind, what we think is what we get, our habits are our life, don't breed negative thoughts, reactions must be managed, attitude of gratitude, every thought causes a physical reaction! (I will be writing more about these in the coming time) This is THE THING. The thing that the families I work with wish that their families, friends, care providers, other supporters and random grocery store strangers would understand!
If we as birth workers (educators, doulas, midwives, doctors, nurses, family/friends of the expectant couple and so on) carry our own baggage around emitting this tainted frequency we are inadvertently imprinting it on others! Even our own "successful" stories of others' good births may, for some, do harm in providing an expectation that our clients' inner-consciousness cannot live up to.
Think of the damage we could do!
Think of the support, empathy, and witness we could provide instead!
When we are working with families expecting a new life, it's NOT about us. We must manage our intentions. If you have had a negative experience, as a doula and need to heal from that do so, before it's projected onto someone else!
It's NOT about us.
I know this concept isn't tangible in the way that some of you would like it to be. Some of the most important things and feelings and experiences of this life are not. Some of us are more in-tune with these types of pulses (from our own hearts or others'). But we can all imagine what outcome we could have by being responsible for what we send out by way of our heart! Maybe you think this sounds too "woo" or "fuzzy-lovey"? Learn to access your heart's intentions, learn to control them, put it to the test and then tell me. I'd love to know what affects you have on others and what you learn and feel as you do this.
As my parting manifesto- We must cleanse ourselves and sync up our mind and heart and access vital humility to let the families we work with follow their intuition. Our job is supporter, and witness only. Witness to THE miracle. What an honor that should be that these families are inviting us to witness their deeply intimate miracle.
In further musings we will explore more of the WHY this is really so important for laboring moms and the HOW to accomplish it with yourself and on behalf of the families with whom we work.
Stay tuned for more in which we investigate "Quantum Midwifery" and the Holistic Stages of Birth as shared by The Matrona.
References and Sources-
You can write something here about me. No need to be fancy, just an overview. :)