What's a good gift for my pregnant Wiccan sister?
January 17, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My sister is Wiccan and pregnant. Is there a good gift I could give her to get her through labor?

My sister is pregnant with her first child and I think she's getting anxious about labor. She's Wiccan and often carries around stones, leaves, and seeds that she says have properties that help her in given situations. I'd really like to give her something like that to give her some encouragement during labor.

I know nothing about Wicca. I tried researching it, but there is so much different information about Wicca that I feel lost. The only thing I found was something about willow bark helping with postpartum recovery but that's made into tea. I really want to give her something she could hold or smell, like aromatherapy, not something she would ingest (you're not supposed to eat during labor anyway).

Is there anything I could give her that is helpful in childbirth, or brings strength and calm in general? Or, failing that, something that would help her postpartum? I know of lots of things I could get her that aren't related to Wicca, but I also know that if I got her a present related to her religion it would bring her extra comfort.

posted by christinetheslp to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Mum-to-be crystal set. (They ship outside the UK)
posted by essexjan at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2010

I would suggest looking up the traditional properties of some smooth rocks, then go somewhere where they have big bins and look through for one with a good thumb-shaped curve. I am not Wiccan, but I have a little hematite rock that is perfectly shaped for rubbing with my thumb or clutching in my palm, and it is very soothing.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2010

A wheat weaving that symbolizes fertility would be pretty cool. (And then she can bury the weaving and harvest the wheat.)

Also, she might like a statue or shrine to her favorite fertility goddess, e.g. Demeter / Ceres, Inanna/Ishtar, Freya, Ceridwen, Hathor, and St. Brigid. Also Hecate, the Crone, looks over women in childbirth.
posted by musofire at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2010

Vanilla and ginger are supposed to be very soothing scents.
posted by The Whelk at 12:57 PM on January 17, 2010

you're not supposed to eat during labor

Can I broaden your gift scope by mentioning that this is not true?
posted by kmennie at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2010

What kmennie said. I think hospitals just say that in case you have to have an emergency C-section, which involves anesthesia (and you're at greater risk for aspiration if you have something in your tummy and undergo anesthesia) and because some women throw up when they're in labor.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:20 PM on January 17, 2010

My hospital allowed electric oil burners in the birthing rooms specifically to accommodate aromatherapy. They also actively encouraged us to bring in high energy snacks for during labour (I had fruit salad but laboured too quickly to care). A rubbing stone is probably a good idea - maybe a carved one? Check out etsy. There are a bunch of CDs and whatnot out there specifically for labour and it's something she could listen to now and hopefully allow her to not be so anxious.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:27 PM on January 17, 2010

With the caveat that I am making assumptions about your sister....

Spiritual Midwifery is pretty much guaranteed to rock her world. It is extremely valuable even if she is not planning a home birth - it's very much about grounded childbirth and I am guessing that a lot of the stories in the book will resonate with her. You might also see if you can find her a small Sheela Na Gig sculpture or pendant.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:41 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

One caveat about scents is that as labor progresses, smells that were once soothing can become unbearable. This can happen extremely rapidly, within a few minutes. I would shy away from oil diffusers &c, because there's no way to cancel the scent once it gets diffused.

If she doesn't already have a doula, helping her find one (and possibly paying for it, though it's spendy) would be incredible. Or, you can ask several of her friends to pick out beads that they like and make her a birthing necklace.
posted by KathrynT at 3:27 PM on January 17, 2010

Came in to recommend Spiritual Midwifery but DarlingBri beat me to it. Ina May Gaskin also has another totally awesome book which I recommend to anyone pregnant, but would be great for this too (both would even be fine as they don't overlap that much). Some of the stories from Spiritual Midwifery are in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.
posted by kch at 3:47 PM on January 17, 2010

Or for afterward, a breastfeeding pillow
posted by kch at 3:50 PM on January 17, 2010

I don't know far along she is, but if she's not too advanced you might want to look into a Bradley method classes for her. It's not spiritual in any sense, but it teaches the couple (she'll need a
birth partner/coach who's committed) how to relax through labor. It can help her get through labor without medication if that's important to her (it was successful for my wife), but even more valuably, a good Bradley class teaches you about what your options are. I've heard some teachers can be dogmatic and annoying but ours provided tons of solid scientific info along with useful relaxation techniques.
posted by mollweide at 5:33 PM on January 17, 2010

(sorry, iPhone posting weirdness.) I know it's not something tied to her religion that she can physically hold onto. However, if you practice the relaxation techniques enough they can really help you get over
you labor anxieties during labor itself.
posted by mollweide at 5:37 PM on January 17, 2010

How about a doula? Dunno how much you want to spend, but having someone there who can support you is helpful no matter what your religion!
posted by Maias at 7:04 PM on January 17, 2010

that's so very sweet and thoughtful of you!

I'm just going to throw a bunch of information at you, so you can decide what would be most suitable for your sister.

I'll also cite some books as I go, if you ever want to look it up later...

From 'Rites of Passage: The Pagan Wheel of Life' by Pauline Campanelli
Whole Cowrie shells are a traditional birth amulet, it's natural, nice and smooth to hold or rub against her belly, (it's basically symbolic of the vagina, and a pregnant belly).

If she's into mythology, deities, the Egyptian deities of birth were Bes, Taueret and Bast.
A symbol of Taueret is a blue faience hippo, as you can see, also smooth. If you know she has any associations with a particular deity or culture, something relevant to that would be thoughtful.

Also, Bear amulets, or a key (that is known to be able to open a lock - obvious symbolism there).

One old tradition is during labour, is to untie any knots in her clothing and even loosen and brush the mothers hair.

I think a nice thing to do might be to find a small pouch on a string, so she can put special things in it, and take it with her.

Or give her something that you think of as sacred or special, or something you found. Either way, you could inscribe it with the Berkano/Beorc rune, which looks like a pointy B, and represents birth in runic symbolism.

From 'Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic' by Scott Cunningham, crystals/stones etc associated with childbirth:

Amber (which in a large smoothed chunk would be lovely to hold) - "amber powder was burned during childbirth to assist the woman's labour'.
Bloodstone - "women hung a bloodstone on the arm to prevent miscarriage, and later, on the thigh to ease childbirth".
Jasper - to protect mother and child, and 'relieve pain'
Pumice - 'pressed into the hands of women during childbirth, or worn, to ease the passage of the new life into the world' - I think I'd find it too gritty though.
'Sard' - a reddish yellow or brown variety of quartz, to 'facilitate a trouble-free childbirth'
A coral necklace with a lodestone hanging from it to 'facilitate an easy birth'
Geodes (an unbroken hollow 'egg' with crystals inside).

For post-partum:
If you are interested in getting her a book maybe, "Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children" by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw or "Circle Round" by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill would both be lovely choices.

Or, if you could help choose, or find a spot for a birth tree, under which to bury the placenta, that would be a pretty neat long-term gift.

Whatever you do, if you just attach a note to the gift with something that expresses the love and wishes you are trying to convey, not in an 'I hope' kind of wording, but in the present tense, and worded positively (and rhyming if you can manage it - for memorability!), it will probably be vividly remembered as the magical blessing you intend it as.

Blessings to you, your family, and family to be!

P.S. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. :)
posted by Elysum at 2:40 AM on January 18, 2010

Thanks for your answers, everyone!

After reading through them, I decided to get her some stones. I know she carries them around anyway, and having something to rub might help her stay calm through her contractions.

The idea of a wheat weaving to plant or birth tree are also really great, but she lives in an apartment and I have a small yard :-) So that wouldn't work.

Thanks again!
posted by christinetheslp at 4:34 AM on January 18, 2010

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