It’s a year since we welcomed our little lad into the world of solid food. Tasty, nutritious, ethically-sourced wholesome food is very important in our household so we wanted to really celebrate this welcoming. Furthermore, we saw the start of weaning as being another step to Dylan becoming an independent little being, the first step having been birth. As his birth had been a pretty traumatic ordeal for us all, we were keen to make this rite far more positive and spiritual. Here’s what we did….
- We had kept Dylan’s placenta. This was the only thing in our birth plan that had stayed intact! His placenta was what had nourished him before his birth- after which, my breasts took over and the placenta sat wrapped in a few plastic bags in our freezer for 6 months. You could still have a weaning ceremony if you didn’t keep the placenta or didn’t breastfeed; this is just what we did.
- We’d dug a deeeeeep hole in the ground so that it could now nourish the soil, its inhabitants, the plants above it and the creatures who feed off those plants. In the UK, human tissue being buried legally has to be 6 feet underground. My husband and I placed in the hole some broccoli – this and sweet potato were Dylan’s very first foods – and some rosemary for remembrance and to mask any smells from foxes.
- We covered the placenta with chicken-wire (more fox-proofing!) and then filled the hole, reaffirming the pledges of support, love, respect and mentoring we made to Dylan at his home-welcoming ceremony when we arrived back from hospital- another little ritual of just the three of us. We decorated the space with some more rosemary and petals, giving thanks again to the placenta for having nourished Dylan to be healthy and beautiful.
- We acknowledged our journey in becoming parents and the learning, sacrifice, magic and fun that this had necessitated. We acknowledged our healing process from the birth and stated our hopes for our continued journey in parenting.
- We thanked each of the four elements for the part they play in making Dylan and in his life. We remembered all those who had been parents before us, asked for their wisdom and gave them thanks.
- We hugged and went to make a cup of tea. By appropriate coincidence, Dylan needed some mama-milk and my mum rang unexpectedly. I was feeling quite emotional and it felt really special to feel that mother-daughter bond at the end of a ceremony related to my own becoming of a mother.
Reasons to have a weaning ceremony
- My personal belief is that we’ve lost a lot of “rites of passage” in our culture. The ones that remain, like weddings, we tend to inflate – perhaps to compensate. Your baby is moving onto a new stage and it’s always lovely to have a celebration!
- Our ceremony was very intimate (just us 3) and informal – partly because at this stage Dylan was still breastfeeding A LOT and wanting to be held most of the rest of the time. We just didn’t have the energy to include much else, bake cake, do decorations or poems, have guests etc. But you certainly could! You could incorporate it into a naming/welcoming ceremony if you didn’t have one close after birth.
- If like us you had a traumatic birth experience, marking the passage to the next stage positively could provide the space to acknowledge your feelings around the birth, take stock of what you’ve achieved since and celebrate that. Sure, your pain from the way the birth went may be hanging around but you can bring to this ceremony all the positive energy, affirmations, whatever that you planned to be present at your little one’s entrance to the world.
- If you had a beautiful birth experience,it could provide a nice space to remember and draw on that.
Other things to consider
- If you’d like to keep your placenta but don’t want to bury it, consider the post-partum benefits of its nutrients: http://placentanetwork.com/. Or consider placenta art: http://birthspool.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/how-to-make-placenta-print.html.
- Again, legally (in the UK) your buried placenta should be 6 feet under. If you’re not that fussed about adhering strictly to the law, do consider that foxes may dig it up!
- If you didn’t/don’t want to keep your baba’s placenta, you can still celebrate when they move onto solids! You could put a drop of breast milk/formula milk in the hole instead, or something symbolic of the pregnancy/birth/your young baby that will biodegrade easily.
- If you didn’t breastfeed, welcoming your baby to the world of solid food from a purely formula diet is still worth celebrating! As are the other changes that have happened since birth; by now, your child is likely to be smiling and rolling over and may well be crawling, waving and have teeth.
- If you do invite people to/tell them about your ceremony, consider how they may react (and if you care about how they do!) Some of our friends and family thought it was totally cool, others were quite wierded out….and it wasn’t always the ones we expected.
I’d love to hear what you do/did! ♥