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Doula, MamaPixie, Mother Blessing

Michelle’s Mother Blessing

Last year, I had the honour of being involved in the mother blessing of a particularly wonderful expectant Mama, Michelle. (If you’re not familiar with the idea of a mother blessing, do have a quick look over HERE to find out a little more.)

I’ve been given permission by Michelle to share some of the moments and images from that lovely gathering that I coordinated for her.

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After lots of conversations, Michelle chose a colour scheme of cheerful golden yellow shades to bring joy and nurturing greens. These tones translated beautifully into the custom positive affirmations that I created for her.

Etsy Listing triptych - LR WM

After chatting about what her plans for this birth were and about what affirmations she would like, we focused on fear release and actively acknowledging and letting go of what has been, and moving forward into light and trust, with quiet, shining confidence. Michelle’s doula Liz also helped me with these, giving a little insight into the phrases that she was using with Michelle, adding another personal touch into them.

We also explored what Michelle wanted to gain from a mother blessing, what it meant to her, and she chose her activities accordingly.

On the day, I arrived early to help set up at Michelle’s home, bringing flowers and foliage with me and a vegan Oreo cheesecake I had whipped up.

Michelle’s guests began to arrive, women that she knows and trusts to support her, that she had chosen to be part of her intimate gathering, including three other pregnant mothers – pregnant women very nearly outnumbered the non pregnant ones!

Unlike a mainstream babyshower that often has a focus on giving gifts and playing games, a mother blessing often feels, to me, to be much more intimate. Typically, a mother will only choose women that she knows support her birth choices whole-heartedly, that she trusts, and feels good when they are around her. It would certainly be harder to relax and enjoy it if you’re worrying about a friend or family member whom you know doesn’t approve of your choices.

We went round our circle, introducing ourselves and how we know Michelle and then began to move into our group activities.

I had hand-dyed pure wool yarn as part of a web bracelet activity, where the women present passed the yarn between them, creating a circle that began and ended with Michelle. The yarn was then cut and tied round each woman’s wrist as a physical symbol of the circle of support between them, and for the mother to look at during birth and remind her of all the women that she is connected to, that are present with her in some way, lending their strength and sending their love.

I had created some threads for everyone to tie round a candle that Michelle already had, and each person tied their chosen thread round the candle, speaking their hopes and wishes and intentions for Michelle’s upcoming birth, aloud if they chose or silent if that felt more natural. A few mothers had brought their own charms to add as well, which made it even more special hearing about the meanings behind them. I had also created extra threads for Michelle, her partner, and her daughter to tie round, both for themselves and to represent beloved people who were over the sea or had passed away. Honouring ancestors and the women who came before you is a humbling way of realising just how simultaneously special and insignificant you are!

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Michelle and her friends talked about their births, their words of wisdom, as well as some hilarious birth and pregnancy related anecdotes whilst we created birthing affirmations together for Michelle’s birthing altar.

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We continued to talk as we settled into a guided meditation about letting go and fear release, which I had written specifically for the mother blessing. When it was concluded, we then had opportunity to ground ourselves by eating lots of delicious food that had been brought by the guests.

Then, Michelle’s doula Liz began hennaing her bump, with little details being added by each participant. A chance to have a few moments, one to one, just them and Michelle.

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I also had the opportunity to capture a lovely, intimate moment between Michelle and Liz.

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It was truly wonderful to be part of such a sweet day, and whilst I took many more photographs, I think these are the ones that best capture the energies that were swirling round us.

The power of women coming together to support one another during our times of transition, to celebrate one another, to hold onto each other when times are hard or hurtful or overwhelming, to build them up. It never fails to make my heart glow.

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And in case you were wondering (which clearly you were!) Michelle, supported by her doula Liz, went on to birth her second baby, a beautiful daughter.

Photograph taken by Liz Pywell and used with kind permission from Michelle Blake

Photograph taken by Liz Pywell and used with kind permission from Michelle Blake

Photograph taken by Liz Pywell and used with kind permission from Michelle Blake

Photograph taken by Liz Pywell and used with kind permission from Michelle Blake

 

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If you’d like to find out more about mother blessings —> Mother Blessings

If you’d like to find out more about the birth affirmations I designed for Michelle —> Birth Affirmations

If you’d like to purchase a set of affirmations for yourself, or chat to me about creating a custom set just for you —> MamaPixie Etsy

Doula, MamaPixie

Birthing Affirmations

I have always found that my mental state during pregnancy directly affects the births that I have. With my eldest, a negative and stressful pregnancy led to a similarly negative birth experience. Being in a much more joyful, strong place whilst pregnant with my eldest daughter resulted in a thrilling and happy (if not-to-plan!) birth. And then I have spoken often of the transformative power of birth that I experienced in my last labour.

A lot of that positivity came from within, my own peace as a human, as an individual, as a mother; simply knowing who I was gave me so much strength.

Equally, I had wonderful light and support coming from others. My husband, Stephen, lifted me every day. My doula, Hannah, held my hands and listened as I made plans. My friends came together to celebrate the unborn life and my steps towards her birth at a blessingway, complete with cake-stealing cat, henna, and a rather gorgeous crown!

I also created a birthing altar, a place in my home that was brimful of good vibes. I collected together birth related art, both prints and done by friends. My husband kept me well supplied in fresh flowers and candles. Quite simply, the act of surrounding myself with this positive imagery had a beneficial effect on my mindset.

I first realised the power that imagery has on us when I was a little girl reading Roald Dahl’s childhood autobiography, Boy. In it, he talks about how when his mother was in the last three months of her pregnancies, his father would announce that “the glorious walks” would begin. He would take her to places of great natural beauty, confident that the stunning surroundings was directly influencing his unborn child, filling them with joy and love and an appreciation for the world.

With that in mind, I had particular phrases I used to meditate on during pregnancy. Little affirmations to repeat over and over, like a mantra.

I am strong enough.

I am good enough.

One breath at a time - LR WM

The words we choose to use in pregnancy, and throughout our lives, can hugely affect us. If you constantly tell yourself that you are (insert whatever negative label you might lean towards using here), then that is how you’re going to feel. We are constantly bombarded with this overwhelming barrage of images of birth being hard and painful, filled with screaming and blood, which I am sure directly correlates to the amount of women who feel petrified heading into birth. One Born Every Minute has a lot to answer for.


Imagine if we approached our first births having only ever been told that women are strong, that birth is transformative, that you can trust your body and your instincts, completely confident in the knowledge that you WILL be listened to and respected throughout the entire process. Imagine if most births in the media were portrayed as active, moving around the birthing space, swaying and breathing, accompanied cow-type lowing, natural and uninterrupted. We would be in so much of a better place to bring another life into this world.

As a doula, I’ve seen first hand the incredible impact that positive language and imagery can have on a pregnancy.

A good example is the use of the word ‘contractions’. It brings imagery of tightness, closing up. It’s a tense word. Replace that with surges or waves and the images that come to mind are so very different. Waves brings beaches, that wave of intensity moving up and over your body, consuming you, and then washing away.

How about the word ‘labour’? It gives a feeling of hard work and toil, exhaustion. Using ‘birthing’ instead feels much more active, and yet feels softer in the mouth, softer in the body than ‘labour’.

It is so important to remember the power these words have during our pregnancies and births, and I found myself thinking a lot about designing my own set of birth affirmation cards. So I did!

I drew on my own birth experiences with my three children, as well as the births I have attended as a doula, and with lots of discussion with friends about what phrases and words they found inspiring, calming, and positive in their own journeys.

Within a mid-green and golden yellow colour scheme, each one has a different positive birth affirmation on it. These were originally designed for a mother blessing client, and the main focus of this set is fear release and actively acknowledging and letting go of what has been (perhaps a negative birth experience previously), and moving forward into light and trust, with quiet, shining confidence.

The idea that a Mama is seeing these strong, affirming words over and over in through her day, even if she’s not *actively* seeing them, those words are gently sinking into her psyche to rest in her subconscious.

This is just the first finished set, and I have another two in different colours and themes, with differing focuses in progress. Eventually, some of these affirmations will be available as art prints too, which I am crazy excited about!

Etsy Listing triptych - LR WM

The affirmations included in this particular set are;

– Birth is safe for me and my baby
– Each surge brings my baby closer to me
– I am awake. I am aware. I am unafraid.
– I am so strong
– I release my fear
– I trust birth
– I will give this birth everything I have. Nothing holds me back.
– It is safe for me to be happy during this pregnancy
– My breaths are long, slow, and relaxed
– One breath at a time

Ultimately, you can’t control something which has so much of a Wild aspect to it like birth naturally does. What you CAN do is bring positivity, reminders of strength, and encourage that trust in yourself and your instincts to your pregnancy, putting yourself in the best position possible to move into the final stages of bringing your baby earthside.

If you’d like to purchase a set for yourself, you can head on over to my MamaPixie Etsy store.