Rebuttal to ‘Megan Doodle’ Pro-Vax Nurse

Viral provax posts often make the rounds but this week I was motivated to respond to one. The post’s message wasn’t new, it’s a narrative based on misinformation and logical fallacies that gets rehashed year after year. What really rubbed me the wrong way was the author’s attitude - egotistical, selfish, demanding, and vindictive.

The author, a nurse named Megan Doodle (yes that’s her name, pictured above) stated:
"I think that people who don’t want to vaccinate should have the freedom to do so. If they think that 'Big pharma' is just trying to turn a profit or poison us all... they should be allowed to believe that. But the caveat to that is this: Then they should NOT be allowed go to the doctor or the hospital when they get sick, looking for treatment. That’s right."
"Big pharma makes those antibiotics we are going to pump you full of when you are about to die from sepsis. The steroids and epi we might give you to save your life from your anaphylaxis? Yep, big pharma is behind that too. That inhaler you need to treat your kid's asthma? Better pass on that as well, because ... you guessed it ... brought to you by Big P. Having a heart attack? Better break out your essential oils and get your affairs in order, because the only thing we have to offer you is medicine and procedures brought to you by the very same people who are responsible for those vaccines you insist are evil."

The basic gist of Megan’s post was, “if you don’t trust Big Pharma why use ANY of their products?” I’m happy to answer that.

First, it needs to be said that from a logical point of view Megan’s argument is a hot mess. Her most glaring ‘logic fail’ is the Fallacy of False Dilemma - when something is falsely claimed to be an "either/or" situation.

Megan is proposing that people either choose to accept ALL pharmaceutical products... or NONE. I think we can all agree this is stupidly unethical. Imagine a medical professional holding you to ransom, “either you agree to let me use ANY pharmaceutical product I want on you, or you get NONE!”

There is no all or nothing in healthcare; what’s great for one patient could mean death for another.

Let’s repeat together:

Medicine should be INDIVIDUALIZED to each patient.

Megan is also paid by US, the consumer, to provide a service. WE call the shots, WE decide if we are happy with her service, WE decide if we want the products she is pushing. We are under no obligation to agree with her opinions. The service medical staff provide varies considerably, just like in any other profession, and if we don’t feel that service is up to scratch we can find better elsewhere.

If Megan were my nurse, you can bet I’d be demanding a new nurse and laying a complaint with her superiors.

Moving on.

Megan’s second ‘logic fail’ is the Fallacy of Composition - when one infers that something is true of the WHOLE based on the fact that it’s true of some PART of the whole.

Megan is inferring that because SOME medical products are proven to be worth the risk in certain situations (eg. an epipen when someone is having an allergic reaction), that means ALL medical products, including vaccines, are worth the risk. She is lumping ALL pharmaceutical products together.

Which brings us to the next fact:

Pharmaceutical products are NOT created equal.

Each product has it’s own manufacturer, it’s own composition, it’s own use, it’s own contraindications, it’s own risks and side effects, and it’s own safety and efficacy research associated with it. This means you can’t make generalized assumptions about them as a whole.

You can’t pretend they’re all equally safe and effective. Some products have a fantastic safety and efficacy track record (eg. epipens), while others (eg. vaccines), not so much.

I can already hear the screams... “But vaccines are some of the most well tested pharmaceutical products on the market!”

No, they’re not. 

No matter how many times the mantra ‘vaccines are well tested’ is repeated it won’t make it true. So I’ll repeat it again:

Vaccines are NOT well tested.

In reality, vaccines are tested with LESS scrutiny than other drugs - they’ve been given their own ‘special’ rules.

Vaccines are NOT required to undergo double-blind, inert-placebo-controlled testing.1
Vaccines are NOT required to undergo long-term safety testing.1 Vaccines are not required to be tested for carcinogenic, mutagenic, or fertility impairment risk (stated on vaccine package inserts), despite many of the ingredients in vaccines having carcinogenic, mutagenic, or fertility impairment risk in separate studies.2,3,4  Vaccines even have their own special ‘vaccine court’ so vaccine manufacturers don’t have to face real litigation when their products cause adverse side effects or death.5 This is not the case for ANY other pharmaceutical.

This is why we can’t lump vaccines in with other medical products, pretending that they ALL have the same sterling reputation - they don’t. This is why parents may decide to pass on vaccines yet say yes to an epipen or asthma inhaler.

Ahem, what about regulatory agencies?

It’s reasonable to ask, “don’t regulatory agencies, like the FDA, ensure all pharmaceutical products are safe for the public?”

We already know that vaccine regulations are lax, but pharmaceutical regulations on the whole aren’t particularly reliable either. The FDA’s reputation is NOT stellar. They have shown time and again they favour corporate interests over public safety. The organizations apathy towards conflicts of interest has been appalling:
“The Food and Drug Administration does almost nothing to police the financial conflicts of doctors who conduct clinical trials of drugs and medical devices in human subjects, government investigators are reporting. Moreover, the investigators say, agency officials told them that trying to protect patients from such conflicts was not worth the effort.” - New York Times, 2009 6

In 2014 NSNBC published an article exposing the FDA’s blatant pandering to corporate interests over public safety:
“Between 2005 and 2011, nearly half of all new drug formulations in the US were approved without companies having to demonstrate a tangible benefit, such as relieving disease symptoms, extending life, or improving someone’s ability to go about normal activities.” - NSNCB, 2014 7

In the same year NSNBC wrote an even more damning piece:
“A recent study about institutional corruption of pharmaceuticals and the myth of safe and effective drugs, warns that over the past 35 years, patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few, offsetting benefits.”
“The researchers warn that since 1906, commercial influence has compromised Congressional legislation to protect the public from unsafe drugs, adding that the authorization of user fees in 1992 has turned drug companies into the FDA’s prime clients, deepening the regulatory and cultural capture of the agency.”
“Part of the regulatory and cultural capture of the FDA has enabled the industry to successfully demand shorter average review times. Less time to thoroughly review the evidence, warn the researchers, has led to increased hospitalization and death.”
The researchers warn that meeting the needs of the drug companies has taken priority over meeting the needs of the patients, adding that unless this corruption of regulatory intent is reversed, the situation will continue to deteriorate.” - NSNBC, 2014 8

You’d expect this type of publicity would prompt the FDA to clean up it’s act - no such luck. The situation has actually gotten worse with Trump recently nominating Scott Gottlieb, a man riddled with conflicts of interest, to head the FDA. 9

Which leads us to our next revelation:

Pharmaceutical companies are not your ‘friends’

The array of pharmaceutical products we use are made by a multitude of different manufacturers, each with their own - often dubious - track record. You can’t lump them all together. Almost all major pharmaceutical companies have faced fines for misconduct, many are repeat offenders who are fined millions year after year. 10 Some have been outed by their own employees for fudging data 11, while many have made clear their obligations are to their shareholders profits, not the public. 12,13

Like ANY product you buy, whether it be a lipstick or a carseat (and especially a medical product), the manufacturers reputation makes a huge difference in whether you choose to buy their product or not, as it should. Is the manufacturer trustworthy? Have they shown that the health and safety of their consumers is their top priority? In the case of many major pharmaceutical manufacturers, the answer is consistently NO.

Yes, we should be wary. Yes, we as consumers have damn good reasons to be wary. 14

So why bother with these companies at all? As Megan so gleefully pointed out there’s times we NEED their products. Not ALL of them, not ALL the time, for many of us it’s just the odd occasion.

“Shouldn’t we be grateful for the life-saving products they provide us?” Yes, but...

We shouldn’t tolerate corruption.

Being grateful for technology available to us doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to corruption, it doesn’t mean we put up with dangerous products. We wouldn’t put up with it in any other industry and we shouldn’t put up with it in the pharmaceutical industry.

It’s important to remember that unless these products created a large profit many of these companies would not manufacture them at all. In fact vaccine manufacturers threatened to stop making certain vaccines altogether in the 1980’s because litigation from vaccine injured consumers was eating into their profit margins. As a result they coerced the US government into passing legislation to protect manufacturers from litigation - an important reason you cannot lump vaccines into the same group as other pharmaceuticals. 5

The drive for profit is blatantly obvious with the fact that many larger companies have stopped research into desperately needed new generation antibiotics. For them there just isn’t enough profit in it, so they focus on other drugs with higher profit margins. 15

How about the 400% price hike in epipens, for no other reason than because the manufacturing company could? 16 Desperate consumers who rely on life-saving epipens have had no other choice but to pay the 400% price hike, with some families foregoing basic necessities, so billionaire pharma executives can stuff their already bulging pockets.

Valeant pharmaceutical company CEO J. Michael Pearson said it best:
“My primary responsibility is to Valeant shareholders. We can do anything we want to do” 13

So let’s not forget the type of companies Megan is talking about when she tries to defend and glorify ‘Big Pharma’.

Megan continues:
"Stop being so naive. Everything has risks. Everything has side effects. Medicine is not perfect.”

Naive? Really? Parents don’t choose to not vaccinate on a whim. This isn’t a joke or a fad to them. For many non-vax parents the choice to vaccinate would come with a high likelihood of serious neurological injury or death - in their situation the benefits of vaccination very clearly DON’T outweigh the risks.

When you hear “anti-vax” think “parent of a vax-injured child”.

Parents who don’t vaccinate are very often parents of vaccine injured children, and are more aware than most of the pitfalls of medicine. They’ve witnessed their children convulsing with post-vaccination seizures and screaming in pain from brain swelling. They were left to pick up the pieces as their children regressed mentally into post-vaccination neurological impairment. They don’t need reminding that “medicine is not perfect” from an insensitive, ‘tone deaf’ nurse. Everyday they are faced with a living, breathing reminder of the devastation “imperfect” medicine can bring. 18

When Megan says, “everything has risks” she again nonchalantly lumps vaccines in with other pharmaceuticals, implying they’re on a level playing field when we know they’re NOT. The cost vs benefit of an epipen for instance bears no resemblance to any vaccine. Megan will never convince parents who’ve witnessed first hand the devastation vaccines can bring that vaccines are safe.

Her post continues:
“We advocate for vaccinating your children and yourself because science has PROVEN it's the most effective method of controlling the spread of disease and giving you and everyone around you the best chance of NOT DYING from something preventable.”

Flat out dogma. Megan advocates vaccinating our children because that’s what the health department orders her to do. She tells us vaccines are the most effective method of controlling disease because that’s what the health department orders her to say.

There’s a reason she doesn’t provide any studies to bolster her argument - because there aren’t any. There is NO proof that the overall benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the overall risks. There is no independent, fully-vaccinated vs non-vaccinated, long-term study analyzing the overall health of both groups. It doesn’t exist, and without it no person, no matter their station in life, has ANY credence insisting that vaccines are worth the risk.

The German KIGGS study was the closest we’ve come to a vaxed vs non-vaxed study, but like many others it suffered from conflicts of interest which resulted in data tampering after another researcher used the data to show the vaccinated children in the study suffered significantly higher rates of illness and disorders. This prompted the KIGGS authors to remove the relevant data, making the data pool too small for the new researcher’s results to be considered significant afterward. 19

So let’s hold off on the wishful, vaccine-worshiping dogma until we actually  HAVE evidence to say one way or another just how beneficial or risky vaccines are.

The post continues:
“Believe me when I say that not vaccinating yourself or your children because you believe that big pharma only cares about profit or that the scientific medical community has been duped, is 100 percent insanity.;"

No, I don’t believe Megan. Whether Megan wants to a accept it or not…

Our medical system HAS been corrupted.

People far more educated than Megan have published thousands of scientific studies proving that the scientific medical community is riddled with conflicts of interest tied to the pharmaceutical industry, and together they are corrupting the healthcare system.  In fact there’s scientific journals and conferences dedicated to the subject. 20

Perhaps one of the best descriptions of how this occurs was published last year (2017) by NPR:
“The long arm of the pharmaceutical industry continues to pervade practically every area of medicine, reaching those who write guidelines that shape doctors' practices, patient advocacy organizations, letter writers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and even oncologists on Twitter, according to a series of papers on money and influence published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.” - NPR, 2017 21

I believe Megan desperately wants that not to be true. ‘Big Pharma’ is an industry she’s deeply embedded in and one that she’s staked her reputation on, publicly. She has too much to lose to ever entertain the possibility that the industry she’s backing is no longer entirely honorable or ethical, and in many instances she may be causing her patients more harm than good.

The post continues:
"I personally take offense to anyone who implies that medical professionals, like myself, would ever administer anything to anyone, especially a child, that would intentionally harm them.”

No one is saying that Megan would INTENTIONALLY hurt her patients, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t unknowingly caused more harm than good by administering vaccines or other pharmaceuticals and procedures to her patients.

Modern medicine has a lot to answer for.

The research analyzing the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals and medical care is NOT kind. Each year approximately 2.2 million US hospital patients experience adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications, and 106,000 will die due to adverse drug reactions to prescribed medications (study here). 22

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adverse events to prescribed drugs were almost 4 times more common than adverse events relating to the actual procedure the patients were prescribed the drugs for. 23

A Johns Hopkins study concluded iatrogenic death - deaths directly attributable to medical care - are the third leading cause of death in the US, responsible for 250,000 deaths per year. 24

The British Medical Journal published a scathing report on the safety and efficacy of conventional medicine in which they found just 13% of treatments were scientifically proven to be beneficial. 25

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Megan’s unwavering faith in the pharmaceutical industry is understandable given that it is her job to administer their products. The realization that she may be causing her patients more harm than good by administering those products is a bitter pill to swallow.

In fact it’s a bitter pill I’ve seen medical staff stubbornly REFUSE to swallow even when faced point-blank with the evidence of harm the vaccine they administered caused in a patient. “Oh it can’t be the vaccine’s fault, it’s just a coincidence.”  The staggering amount of times medical staff have said this to parents with vaccine injured children is unforgivable.

While Megan might tout that she’s an upstanding nurse who would never knowingly harm a patient, many of us know from experience she does NOT speak for ALL her colleagues.

I’m sorry to Megan if her fragile ego takes “offense” to the knowledge that some people in her profession DO indeed knowingly harm others, but it’s a reality she’ll have to come to grips with. For the sake of her patients, I hope she does fast.

The post continues:
“I take even more offense to anyone that would imply that a college educated professional, like myself, is incapable of 'doing the research.'"

I’ve met plenty of people like Megan who think having a degree magically means they’re always right. Sometimes we all need reminding:

Medical staff are not all-knowing gods.

Arrogance, particularly with medical professionals in my experience, is strong. They have a really hard time accepting new information from... anyone, even more experienced medical professionals.

That type of arrogant, too-proud-to-admit-I’m-wrong attitude can be dangerous in the medical field, especially given that medical staff like Megan have likely learnt very little about vaccines.

Vaccinology, immunology, or epidemiology are specialties NOT included in general medical degrees – these specialties require additional training. The article, “Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know”, includes a compilation of quotes from doctors revealing what they learnt about vaccines in med school. An excerpt:
"Doctors learn a lot about diseases in medical school, but we learn very little about vaccines. … We don’t review the research ourselves. We never learn what goes into making vaccines or how their safety is studied. So, when patients want a little more information about shots, all we can really say as doctors is that the diseases are bad and the shots are good. – Dr Bob Sears”26

I was once in a discussion with a family doctor who expressed concern over an article she read which touted, “doctors spend their lives researching vaccines”. The problem she had was that this statement simply isn’t true AT ALL. The doctor explained that not only are doctors taught extremely little about vaccines in med school, they DON’T routinely do ongoing research either – they would love to but simply don’t have the time.

She went on to say that the bulk of the recommendations doctors make are dictated to them by major health organizations - doctors are told what to recommend to their patients, they generally don’t develop these recommendations after years of independent research.

You can find more interviews with a range of medical professionals describing how much medical schools actually teach about vaccines here and here.

Let’s not forget too that Megan’s implication that having a medical degree automatically means she’s right, is an example of another logical fallacy: Appeal to Authority. This is when one uses an authority's support as evidence for an argument's conclusion, instead of using reputable evidence such as an independent, high-quality study. A public persona is not enough to garner the public’s trust, we NEED cold, hard evidence. Our children’s lives depend on it.

The post continues:
"People always fire back with something like, 'well if you are vaccinated, why do you care that I’m not? If you are so sure your vaccines work, It’s not like you can catch it.' You are 100 percent right. I will probably be just fine. It’s my newborn baby who is too young to be vaccinated that I’m worried about, it’s my friend who is going through chemo, it’s a neighbor that is immune compromised, it’s my cousin who is allergic and can’t receive the vaccine. Yes, we tell you to get vaccinated to protect yourself, but it’s so much bigger than that. Vaccinate. Because it’s not just about YOU."

There’s an easy rebuttal to that:

You are NOT required to set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.

Why should someone be forced to risk their own child’s health or even life for someone else’s? How is that ethical or even logical?

My son is one of the statistics who had a severe vaccine reaction and can no longer be vaccinated. Does that mean I demand others vaccinate their kids to protect mine? NEVER in a million years would I ask that of another parent. I cannot guarantee the same reaction that happened to my child won't happen theirs. Then their child would be in the same boat as mine! To demand parents take that risk is not only unethical, it is utterly selfish.

Whenever I see a parent demanding that the rest of the population vaccinate to protect their child, I cringe. They seem completely oblivious to the risks they are demanding others to take for the sake of their child.

“But the risks of vaccinating are one in a million!”

NO, they’re not.

Only 1% of vaccine adverse reactions are estimated to be reported. An HHS funded study by Harvard Medical School tracked reporting to VAERS over a three-year period at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care involving 715,000 patients and found that “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported.”  28

Additionally, researchers still have very little idea about exactly who is at risk of vaccine reaction and there is still no routine screening to weed out those with genetic anomalies that make them more susceptible.

NO ONE has any place demanding a parent consent to a preventative pharmaceutical for their already healthy child when it has such poor safety testing and includes neurological damage and death as possible side effects. That is NOT OK, and never will be.

What I’ll never understand about people like Megan is why she is not standing beside people like myself, demanding that vaccines be made safer? We know for a fact every year kids continue to suffer severe vaccine reactions - some die. How can we condone the dismissal of so many children’s lives as “collateral damage”? Why aren’t we ALL standing up for these children, demanding manufacturers make safer vaccines?


1. HHS Vaccine Safety Responsibilities and Notice

2. Aluminium & DNA Damage

3. Aluminium & Cancer

4. Aluminium & Fertility Impairment

5. NVIC Position Statement, National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986

6. F.D.A. Is Lax on Oversight During Trials, Inquiry Finds
Gardiner Harris. Jan 11, 2009

9. FDA Nominee, Paid Millions by Industry, Says He’ll Recuse Himself if Needed
Katie Thomas, March 29, 2017

10. Lawsuits Against Pharma Companies

11. Scientists Sue Merck: allege fraud, mislabeling, and false certification of MMR vaccine. Suzanne Humphries, MD,  JUNE 25, 2012 

12. Pharma chief defends 400% drug price rise as a ‘moral requirement’
David Crow, Sept 12, 2018

13. Pharma CEO: We’re in Business of Shareholder Profit, Not Helping the Sick

14. Pharma Company Corruption

15. Industry Corruption Studies, Articles etc.

16. Pharmaceutical companies are backing away from a growing threat that could kill 10 million people a year by 2050. Charlotte Hu, Jul 19, 2018

17. Why Did Mylan Hike EpiPen Prices 400%? Because They Could
Emily Willingham, Aug 21, 2016

19. Vaccine Free Children Are Healthier

20. From Twitter To Treatment Guidelines, Industry Influence Permeates Medicine.
CHARLES ORNSTEIN, January 17, 2017

21. Research Integrity and Peer Review Journal

Journal of Medical Ethics

Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics

International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication

World Conference on Research Integrity

22. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Lazarou J et al.  JAMA. 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.

23. Medication errors in hospitalized cardiovascular patients.
LaPointe NM1, Jollis JG. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Jun 23;163(12):1461-6.

24.Johns Hopkins study suggests medical errors are third-leading cause of death in U.S. Vanessa McMains / Published May 4, 2016

25. The Mythology Of Science-Based Medicine. Huffington Post, 03/18/2010

26. Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know
27. How Much Is Taught on Vaccines In Medical School? Published March 22, 2017

28. Electronic Support for Public Health–Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (ESP:VAERS). Lazarus, Ross, 2011

29. Adversomics: a new paradigm for vaccine safety and design
Jennifer A. Whitaker, et al. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2015 Jul; 14(7): 935–947.


Hosting a Mother Blessing

The Purpose of a Mother Blessing

A Mother Blessing ceremony helps mark a powerful transition in a woman’s life and prepare her mind, body and spirit for leaping into the unknown. Friends, family and loved ones, usually women, gather together to wrap the mother in love and positivity. A Mother Blessing should end with the expectant woman feeling empowered and embraced by the love and strength of her tribe. (Description adapted from Nancy Lucina)

The Roots of the Mother Blessing Ceremony

Navajo Dancer, Credit: Erin Ford
The Mother Blessing ceremony is an adaptation of an ancient Navajo ceremony called a Blessingway. Participants of a Blessingway honour, pamper, and prepare the pregnant mother for her journey through birth into motherhood. The Navajo use the Blessing Way Ceremony for many purposes, not just for pregnancy and birth.  It is a ceremony performed for any event or transition that is hoped to have a positive outcome, such as menstruation, menopause, or engagement.

To honour the traditions of the Navajo, it is recommended women don’t conduct a Blessingway unless they are of Native American decent. Instead, women can adapt the traditions into their own unique ceremony - many mothers choose to use the term “Mother Blessing Ceremony”.

There are many forms of Blessingway ceremonies, and you can adapt or create rituals to fit the mother's own spiritual beliefs and lifestyle. The ceremony can be short or long, incorporating many rituals or a few. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a pregnancy.

Individualizing the Ceremony

Guest List

You should consider the guestlist carefully. Be sure to ask the mother who she would like to attend and who she would prefer did not. It’s important the experience is entirely uplifting for her. A Mother Blessing is an intimate and spiritual affair in comparison to a baby shower where a mother may feel obligated to invite a long list people she doesn't necessarily feel positively connected with. Guests who attend do so to honour the mother, to shower her with love and support. Each word spoken is positive and filled with love, joy, and compassion. It is a place void of gossip, judgement, or fear.


If the mother has older children discuss with her who she would like to look after her children for the day. She may prefer to keep her kids close and even have them participate in the ceremony but have someone help when needed.


Mother Blessing Space, Credit: Inken Arntzen
Ideally, a Mother Blessing is hosted somewhere other than the mother’s home. As a Mother Blessing is centered around honouring the mother, she should not feel pressured to prepare her home for or to serve guests. However, if mum is planning to have a home birth, she may want to infuse her home with the beautiful energy that the Mother Blessing brings. Speak to her and make sure to choose a location where she will feel comfortable.

Keep in mind that a Mother Blessing doesn't have to be at someone's home - a retreat or hotel room can be booked, or a beautiful park, reserve, or community garden can be utilized.

Create an Intimate Space

Create a beautiful, sacred space for guests to relax, share, and celebrate. Think about soft music the mother may appreciate, display candles, and place cushions, rugs, and blankets in an intimate circle for guests to sit. The circle is key to a Mother Blessing - it helps create a sense of unity and support.

Time Frame

Mother Blessings can last an hour, a couple of hours, or an entire day.  It depends on the preferences of the mother and the chosen activities - bellycasting or henna painting can take an hour or more. You may find guests are engaging well so decide to extend the ceremony to accommodate them. You could plan an afternoon Mother Blessing that ends with a potluck dinner, or begin with a lunch before delving into the ceremony.

A sample itinerary might look like this:

2.00pm - Guests arrive: guests choose a place to sit, provide refreshments & healthy nibbles
2.30pm - Open ceremony: welcome guests, state intentions, opening prayer, guests introduce themselves, light candles, create centrepiece
3.00pm - Pamper the mother: flower crown, pedicure, manicure, braid hair, massage
4.00pm - Gift giving
4.30pm - Creative time: beaded bracelet, affirmation stones
5.00pm - Sharing time: guests share written blessings, mothering wisdom, birth stories, create help list
6.00pm - Close ceremony: thank guests for coming, hand out candles, closing prayer
6.15pm - Dinner


This is likely an event the mother will want to remember. Find out if she would like to hire a professional photographer or if she has a friend with a talent for photography who can do the honours.


Depending on which activities you decide you’d like to do, you may decide to ask your guests to bring certain things in the invite. These may include:
  • A written note for a Blessing Box
  • An object for a centerpiece
  • A special bead for a bracelet or necklace
  • A beautiful flower for a floral crown
  • A gift for to include in a care package
  • A plate of healthy, nourishing food to share - depending on whether you're choosing to cater yourself, hire caterers, or have a pot luck
You'll also want to include a short description of the purpose of a Mother Blessing for guests who are unaware. The wording in an invite might look something like this:

As a cherished friend of Sarah please join­­ us for a Mother Blessing
Evolving from a traditional Navajo ceremony, a Mother Blessing is a sacred gathering celebrating the upcoming birth of an expectant mother. A close group of female family and friends gather to pamper, support, and empower the mother with wisdom and confidence in preparation for childbirth and motherhood.
Graciously bring...
A beautiful flower. This will be used to create a floral crown for Sarah to wear during the ceremony.
A medium sized bead. This will be be used to create a bracelet for Sarah to wear during her labour to remind her of your support.
A blessing of love and encouragement written on the enclosed card. This can be something you've written or sourced from another author. It can be in the form a verse, prayer, special wish, quote, poem, or song lyric. We will share the blessings with Sarah during the ceremony then place them in a Blessing Box for the her to cherish.
A healthy dish to share.
If you are unable to attend the ceremony but would like to offer your support for Sarah please send your bead and written blessing to [address of host] before [date of ceremony].
Mother Blessing hosted with love by [the host]
Please RSVP to [contact details of host] by [one week before ceremony]

Mother Blessing Invitation, Credit: Green Door Handmade

Opening the Ceremony

Welcome Your Guests and State Your Intentions

Like any ceremony or gathering you should have an opening, body, and a closing. Mother Blessings are usually conducted with participants seated in a circle which symbolizes strength and unity and so that everyone can participate equally.

The ceremony should start with a welcome greeting from the host. If your guests are new to Mother Blessings, explain what your ceremony is and what you will be doing. Explain that it is meant to support the mother and positively prepare her for labor. Sample introduction:

“Welcome everyone and thank you for coming to Sarah’s Mother Blessing Ceremony."
"For those of you who don’t know what a Mother Blessing is, it is a ceremony adapted from the ancient Navajo Native American Blessingway ceremony. It involves honoring, pampering, and preparing the pregnant mother for her journey through birth into motherhood, and involves the participation of everyone."
"First we will be performing an opening ritual, after which we will be pampering Sarah by creating a flower headdress for her, giving her a pedicure, manicure, braiding her hair, and giving her a massage. Next we will each give her the gifts we have brought. After that we will be doing a range of activities, these include creating a beaded bracelet and affirmation stones. Next will be a time are sharing, we'll be sharing our blessings, prayers, poems, quotes, or affirmations we have brought for Sarah and collate them in the Blessing Box. We will be writing our pearls of wisdom in the Mothers Book of Wisdom, and sharing  the things we most loved about our own births. Lastly we'll be creating a Help List for Sarah."
"Before we get started, I’d like to ask you to join hands in prayer."

Cast the Circle

The circle is meant to be a safe confidential space that allows guests to open themselves to each other. To cast the circle any form of prayer is fine, but one way you can do this is to hold hands and say together:

“Let us form this circle with clear thoughts, wise words, and kind hearts.” (Adapted from Karina Robinson)


Each guest should have a turn to introduce themselves. A nice touch to add would be to have each guest also “introduce” her mother, grandmothers, and children by sharing their names with the group.

Lighting Candles

Credit: Vicki Hobbs
Provide a candle for each guest and have them light their candle from the central candle (the mother’s candle), then place their candle next to the mother’s as a symbol of support for the mother and their inclusion in the ceremony.

At the end of the Mother Blessing, extinguish the candles and have each guest take their candle home. When the mother goes into labour, message the guests so they can light the candle in her honor, keeping it burning until the baby is born.

Collective Centerpiece 

Centerpieces can be made with flowers, stones, crystals, or other pieces of nature. Guests can also bring objects that are sacred or special to them for use in the centerpiece for the day. Ask each guest to bring an item and gather them together to form a centerpiece for the ceremony. 

The Body of a Mother Blessing

Transition into your Mother Blessing ritual activities. There is no set order for conducting each ritual, so you can do them in whatever order makes sense to you. You may wish to first tell your guests which rituals you will be performing. You can play music or sing songs during each activity.

Credit: Grace Ceremonies


Typically, grooming of the expecting mother is done first. You may choose to wash the mother's feet in warm water gently scented by essential oils, brush and braid her hair, give her a manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage.

Anointing with Oil

This is a beautiful way to endow confidence in a mother. Give each guest a slip of paper that tells them a specific body part to anoint. An example:

"I anoint your head, may your intuition guide the decisions you will make in the coming years. I anoint your chest, may your heart be filled with love, acceptance, compassion and forgiveness. I anoint your breasts, may they produce abundant milk for your baby. I anoint your hips, may they allow for an easy and empowering birth. I anoint your hands, may they cradle your baby with divine love. I anoint your feet, may they ground you and keep you centered."

Laying of Hands

Laying of hands is an especially unifying and supportive ritual - the power of touch is unmistakable. Have each guest place their hands on the pregnant woman’s belly (if she is comfortable with this) and say a blessing, prayer, affirmation, or sing a song in unison.
Laying of Hands, Credit: Brigid's Grove


After the mother is feeling completely indulged, guests can present her with gifts.


There are a multitude of activities to choose from! You may choose to create a birthing bracelet, birthing wreath, belly cast, belly painting, affirmation stones or whatever activities you have prepared for the Mother Blessing (for a full list of activities see further down the post). You do not need to do all of these! Choose the ones that appeal the most to the expecting mother and fit into the allotted time frame. But, if you have all day, by all means try them all! “Wrist binding” can be a very nice way to end the main part of the ceremony as everyone is joined together and then cut apart.

Closing a Blessingway

Once the expecting mother has been showered with Mother Blessing rituals, you can close the ceremony by first making sure that each guest has had a chance to share what they wanted to share with the expecting mother.

To close the ceremony, a song, poem, affirmation, or prayer sung/read together while holding hands can be a nice way to bring the group together one last time. The Bracelet Binding ritual is also a lovely ritual to do at end of the ceremony (see details towards the bottom of the post).

Thank your guests for coming and for the positive energy they imbued on the celebration. If you are giving favors - such as a candle for the candle ritual - make sure to remind your guests to take one. If you are doing the candle and bracelet binding rituals also be sure to collect everyone's contact details to let them know when the mother is in labour and when the baby is born.

Open the Circle

Lastly, to open the circle ask your guests to hold hands and say together:

“Our circle is now open, but remains unbroken.”

Time to Feast

Sharing food together is traditionally a central part of the Mother Blessing. You may choose to hire caterers, cater yourself, or have each guest bring a plate of healthy, nourishing food.
Credit: The Organic Kitchen

Blessingway Activities

Make a Crown of Flowers

This is a delightful way to help the mother feel beautiful and honored. Ask each guest to bring a flower and weave the flowers into a crown using additional foliage, florist wire, and florist tape. For instructions see this post from Flowers Across Melbourne florist blog.
Flower Crown, Credit: Adelaideup

Beaded Bracelet

This is a favourite for many mothers and a nice way to get everyone - not just those attending the event -  involved in supporting the mother. Have each guest bring or send a bead they have picked for the mother. The bead should be something the guest has picked with the mother in mind. At the Mother Blessing pass a piece of jewelry thread around the circle, allowing each guest to say a blessing to the mother before threading her bead. Once each guest has threaded their own bead, have them continue around the circle by threading the beads and reading the blessings of any loved ones who couldn't attend the ceremony.

The mother can then keep the beads close - during pregnancy, labor, and beyond - to remind her of her support circle. Many mothers have said that these birth beads give them strength and focus during labor.
Mother Blessing Beads, Credit: Loving a Glutenfree Life

Prayers, Poems, and Blessings

Ask each guest to bring or send something they've found or written for the mother. This can be a thought, quote, poem, song lyric, blessing, or prayer - something that endows positivity and support for the mother. In your wording you may want to consider the mothers specific circumstances. Is she a first time mother? Is she still healing from a previous miscarriage or difficult birth? Is she planning on a VBAC? Has she expressed specific concerns about birth or motherhood? You can compile the written notes into a small, beautiful Blessing Book or Blessing Box for the mother. Friends and family unable to attend can send their written messages via mail, electronically, or send audio or video recordings. You can find a great collection of birth poems here and here.

Credit: Homebirth Aotearoa

Book of Mothering Wisdom

Have mothering friends write or send gentle mothering wisdom for the pregnant mother. This could be in the form of a thought, quote, poem, song lyric, blessing, or prayer - whatever each mother wants to contribute. Have each mother take turns reading her contribution before adding it to a book. Friends and family unable to attend can send their written messages via mail, electronically, or send audio or video recordings.
Credit: Ann Landers

Share Positive Birth Experiences

Empower the mother-to-be by sharing positive birth experiences with her. Take turns going around the room telling what you most enjoyed about your births.
Credit:  Maria Shytova

Centering the Mother

Help refill the mothers spiritual cup by each expressing what qualities you love about her or recounting a sweet or fun story about her.
"Blessings" by Veronica Petrie

Releasing Fear

This ritual is best done at the beginning of the Mother Blessing so that guests may release their fears and feel free to focus on the ceremony.

"The purpose of the ceremony is to identify and symbolically release old hurts, grudges, resentments, regrets, sufferings, mistakes… to release the past letting go of any thoughts,  feelings or behaviors that might be holding you back." - The Compassionate Gardener

For this ritual ask each guest write down their fear on a piece of paper, then starting with the mother, each participant puts their piece of paper in a "burning bowl" where they're safely burnt. You can end the ritual by saying:

“By burning these things, we release our fears. May we now be free to focus our minds and hearts upon the present moment.”
Burning Bowl Ceremony, Credit: Michael Woods

Birthing Flags

Have guests decorate a small fabric flag with an inspirational image, phrase, affirmation, or design that relates to birthing or feeling empowered. The guests then bring or send the flags to the Mother Blessing, where they read or explain the meaning behind their flag, before connecting each piece of fabric with a cord. The expecting mother can hang the flags in her birthing space.
Credit: Hourglass Photography

Wishing Tree

This is a sweet activity commonly done at baby showers, birthdays, engagements, and weddings and which would fit in well at a Mother Blessing. Create a miniature tree from a branch and place it in a pretty pot. Have each guest write a wish for the new mother using decorative paper/cards. Tie the wishes to the tree as “leaves.” The wishes can later be collected for the mother and cherished in a "Wish Book" or "Wish Box".

Wishing Tree, Credit: Project Nursery

River Stones

Provide each guest with a smooth river stone. Ask the guests to think of a word they would like the pregnant mother to focus on before and during labor. Each guest should write her word on the stone, then everyone can share why they chose their word.
Credit: Breathe Doula Care, Portland

Belly Cast

A belly cast is a slightly messy and light-hearted activity that will bring smiles all around. It's actually fairly straight forward and each guest can take turns applying the plaster bandage. It also gives the mother a lovely keepsake of her pregnant body. Alternatively the mother can bring her premade belly cast and each participant can paint/write an affirmation or design.
Credit: Mother & Baby UK

Belly Painting

Another fun activity is to paint the mother's belly. You can use henna paints or any non-toxic (preferably natural) body paints. The mother may have a design she would like, something of special significance. You can talk it over with the mother beforehand and decide what she would like. Henna paint may work especially well because it could last until the birth, if the mother wants. A nice touch would be to henna each hand of the guests as well, symbolically connecting each participant in the circle.
Mother Blessing Henna, Credit: Healing Henna

Candle Jars

There are a multitude of beautiful ways to decorate candle jars. You may choose to use glass paint, gold leaf, colorful or patterned tissue paper, glitter, lace, ribbon etc. You can have each participant bring jars from home or provide them for your guests. If having a homebirth, candles can be lit in the jars during labor to create a beautiful glow and remind the mother of her support circle. You can find instructions for the below jars here.
Decorated Candle Jars, Credit: Rach Speed

Nature Mobile or Wreath

Ask each guest to bring something from nature (a dried flower, a crystal, foliage etc.). Incorporate the objects into a simple wreath or mobile  – it can grace the mother’s birthing space and/or can be enjoyed by the new baby. Guests can also choose to tie small gifts or affirmations to the wreath.
Wreath, Credit: Terrain

Plant a Garden

For the pregnant mother who loves plants, ask each guest to bring a small perennial plant the mother can keep in her house or plant at her leisure.
Credit: El Jardin De Gaia

Embroidered Blanket

Ask each guest to write a short note or design on a plain blanket with fabric markers. Then someone with a talent for embroidery can embroider over the marker to keep the notes and designs intact.
Credit: Celeste Johnston

Decorate Baby Clothes

Ask each guest to bring a onesie or other plain cotton baby clothing to decorate. You can use freezer stencils, appliqué fabric markers, or any other simple craft ideas.

Labor/Motherhood CD

Ask each guest to send a special song that will be burned onto a CD that the mother can listen to (during labor if appropriate). Each guest can share why she chose the song. You can find a beautiful album specifically made for Mother Blessing ceremonies here (pictured below).
Blessingway Songs,by Copperwoman &
the 2005 Esalen Midwives Retreat Choir

Online or Powerpoint Blessingway

Especially good for friends who cannot come to an in person ceremony, gather photos of the pregnant mother during pregnancy, with friends, etc and put them together with special words of love from the mother’s support system. Add in an appropriate piece of music, and you have a beautiful keepsake.

Care Package

Ask each guest to bring a gift to include in a care package. This could be nipple ointment, body butter, facial masks, hair oil, essential oils, scented heat pack, a selection of teas, bath salts, a voucher for a massage or manicure etc.
New Mother Care Package
Credit: Sweet Gum Botanicals

Help List

Sign up each guest for a period of housework, childcare of other siblings, and other chores in the days after the baby is born. Consider having each participant write down a meal that they are committed to bringing for the mother after her baby is born. Alternately each participant can bring a pre-made frozen meal, if the mother has space in her freezer. You or another participant can also take responsibility for organizing and overseeing the help. The mother shouldn't have to do anything. At the Mother Blessing tell her of your plans and assure her you have it all taken care of.
Freezer Meal Ideas, Credit: New Leaf Wellness

Binding Bracelet

This is a wonderful way to close the circle and to symbolize to the mother that she is supported and connected to the women in the circle. One at a time starting with the mother, a ball of yarn or cord (usually red) is wrapped around each participants wrist twice and then passed on to the woman next to her who does the same. Once all participants have bound their wrists some words can be spoken about the web of connectivity and support within the mothers circle of loved ones. An example:

"We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web."

Each woman then takes a turn to cut the strings of the woman next to her and ties it to her wrist. The bracelets stays on until the mother births her baby.
Binding Bracelet, Credit: Paper Bluejay

How To Conduct A Blessingway
Blessingway Ceremonies
Planning A Blessingway
Blessingway Sample Ceremony
30 Ideas for Mother Blessing Ceremonies
Positive Birth Group-Davis County: Mother Blessing Ceremonies
What is a Blessingway Ceremony?
Mother Blessing Ceremony


Why I Don't Trust My Doctor When it Comes to Vaccination

“How can you go against what your doctor recommends, don’t you trust your doctor!?”

It seems a give-in that medical professionals know more than we ‘non-medical people’ about vaccines, right? Surprisingly it’s not always the case. Vaccinology, immunology, or epidemiology are specialties not included in general medical degrees – these specialties require additional training.

The stark reality is that med students are taught very little about vaccines. This is reiterated in the article, “Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know”, which is in essence a compilation of quotes from doctors revealing what they have learnt about vaccines in med school. An excerpt: [1]
“Doctors learn a lot about diseases in medical school, but we learn very little about vaccines. … We don’t review the research ourselves. We never learn what goes into making vaccines or how their safety is studied. So, when patients want a little more information about shots, all we can really say as doctors is that the diseases are bad and the shots are good. – Dr Bob Sears”
In a recent discussion I was in a family doctor expressed concern over a recent article she read that touted, “doctors spend their lives researching vaccines”. The problem she had was that this simply isn’t true at all. The doctor explained that not only are doctors taught extremely little about vaccines in med school, they don’t routinely do ongoing research either – they would love to but simply don’t have the time.

She went on to say that the bulk of the recommendations doctors make are dictated to them by major health organizations. Doctors are told what to recommend to their patients, they don’t develop these recommendations after years of independent research. If you want to know what type of education most doctors receive about vaccines, read the latest handout from the CDC. Given the minimal education doctors are given regarding vaccines it wouldn’t take long to get to the point you know more than your own doctor on the subject.

But there’s more to it than just a lack of training, a lot of people have lost trust in conventional medicine because of poor treatment. A common scenario:
  1. Parents are told, “there is absolutely nothing to worry about”, when they express concern over vaccinating their child.
  2. They agree to vaccinate their child, but their child goes on to suffer a severe vaccine reaction.
  3. Their doctor refuses to acknowledge the vaccine injury.
  4. Their doctor kicks the family out for refusing to subject their child to more vaccines.
Experiences like this destroy trust in the medical establishment. That distrust isn’t based on irrational belief, it’s based on real life experiences. If you haven’t had an unfortunate experience with conventional medicine, then great, good for you, I’m glad it has been plain sailing for you so far. But for many it’s been rough, to say the least. They’ve learnt their lesson the hard way – doctors are human, they aren’t endless sources of information, they are fallible, and sometimes they get it very, very wrong.

It’s unlikely that people who don’t blindly trust their doctors opinion on vaccination are inadvertently saying they think they know better than their doctor – though given the vast medical literature available to us today via PubMed or Cochrane that could very well be a possibility. It’s more likely that these people can’t blindly trust that the vaccine their doctor is pushing as “totally safe and absolutely necessary” really is, because experience has taught them to be skeptical. Their child’s vaccine-induced brain damage is a constant reminder that they can end up paying a very high price if they choose to have blind faith in a doctor.

Research has confirmed that skeptical patients really do have a valid reason to be wary. Larry Dossey et al wrote a scathing report on the safety and efficacy of conventional medicine in which they found:
"...when you take your sick child to the hospital or clinic, there is only a 36% chance that he will receive a treatment that has been scientifically demonstrated to be either beneficial or likely to be beneficial."
Just 13% of treatments were scientifically proven to be beneficial.[2] Taking into account those numbers, it isn’t surprising that many patients have had disappointing experiences with conventional medicine.

It’s also worth noting that not every doctor or scientist thinks that vaccines are safe and effective. There is a wide range of opinions.[3-5] Some medical professionals have taken the time to research medical literature and question the recommendations they are expected to follow. Numerous doctors have spoken out with concern over the current and past vaccine schedule. However, whether a doctor agrees with vaccination or not, they are often bound by their workplaces policy to promote vaccination. If they dare speak out against vaccination they risk losing their job. Or worse, no one wants to be “Wakefielded”.

“What makes you think your “google research” is on par with medical professionals?”

It’s important to remember when we talk about vaccines, we are talking about a range of products. The question is how well these products perform when put to the test – that knowledge is available to everyone, medical professional or not, via medical journals such as the Cochrane Library or sites that collate scientific literature such as PubMed. The public have access to the exact same studies that medical professionals are using to form their opinions (well at least the medical professionals who actually have time to research vaccines). This information isn’t reserved for the ‘medical elite’, it’s available to everyone – so let’s make use of it.

How effective or safe particular vaccines are relies on continued efficacy and safety trials, studies, and post-licence analysis. Not only are new vaccines rolled out each year, but the microbial environment in which vaccines are hoped to have an effect on is also continually changing. Hence why we are seeing rising rates of once rare strains of infection due to vaccination – strains that the current vaccines don’t currently protect from [6]. So while someone may have intricate knowledge about the immune system or diseases, there is no guarantee they have read every study published about every vaccine on the market.

If you’re new to researching medical literature and finding it difficult to interpret study findings, here’s somewhere to start:
Interpretation of Epidemiological Studies
Introduction to Statistics Part 1
Introduction to Statistics Part 2

“What makes you think you know more than the doctors, scientists, and health organisations that recommend vaccines.”

When you do decide to dig in and start reading medical literature, you’ll find not all researchers are in agreement that all vaccines are safe and effective.[3-5] Since the dawn of vaccines there has always been diverse opinions and conflicting studies published by the medical community. Medical literature as a whole paints a much darker and more complex reality than the simplistic, black/white messages about vaccines we have traditionally grown up believing.

One of the more sinister elements are the rampant conflicts of interest which pollute medical research. Researchers are often influenced by conflicts of interest that can have profound effects on how they choose to conduct their studies and what they choose to publish. Medical journals, health organisations, and governmental policy makers too commonly suffer from conflicts of interest that deeply affect their decisions.[7-12]

In fact, the vast majority of doctors involved in establishing national guidelines on disease treatment have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry that could potentially sway their recommendations and inappropriately influence thousands of other physicians.[7-12]

It’s not a matter of, “is this study author (or health organisation, policy maker etc) more knowledgeable than me?” But rather, “can I trust that this author (or health organisation, policy maker etc) is not influenced by conflict of interest?”

What it boils down to

When parents choose not take the path their doctor recommends regarding vaccination it’s not out of arrogance or ignorance. Without doubt, it is always out of genuine concern for their child’s safety. I’ve found it often comes down to these factors:
  • Parents know their doctor has learnt very little about vaccines and isn’t in a position to be making absolute recommendations regarding vaccine safety. Parents know they can read the scientific literature for themselves to make an informed decision.
  • Parents know that the vaccine recommendations they are given by their doctors are heavily biased to favour vaccine manufacturers, which puts their validity in doubt.
  • Parents know the risks outweigh the benefits regarding vaccinating their own children because their own children have suffered adverse reactions that outweigh the calculated risks associated with vaccine preventable diseases.
  • Parents no longer trust that their children will be safe if they follow traditional medical guidelines, because trusting those guidelines has let them down in the past - they have genuine reason to doubt medical opinion.
If the medical industry wants parents to vaccinate they need to take the above concerns very seriously. We want to see doctors educated more thoroughly, with knowledge of the risks involved in vaccinating, so that when parents quiz them (as they should) doctors can actually answer them properly. We want to see the vaccine manufacturers influence over vaccine recommendations removed, along with influence over safety and efficacy testing. We want to see vaccine injury taken seriously - when a vaccine causes harm, demand that manufacturers improve the formula.

Perhaps the most important of all these concerns is to re-establish trust with the patients harmed and treated so poorly by the medical industry. Without patient trust, doctors will get nowhere. Central to re-establishing trust is having the courage to take responsibility when a vaccine causes harm instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.


1. Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know
Jennifer Hutchinson, July 31 2012

2. The Mythology Of Science-Based Medicine
Larry Dossey et al. Huffington Post. 03/18/2010

3. The Case Against Immunizatons
By Richard Moskowitz, M. D

4. Doctors Speak
Vaccination Risk Awareness Network

5.Doctors against vaccines

6. Pneumococcal Strains Not Covered by Vaccine on the Rise
Mar 23,2013. By Serena Gordon, HealthDay Reporter

7. Conflict of Interest Studies

8. Relationships Between Authors of Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Choudhry, N.K., Stelfox, H.T., Detsky, A.S., 2002JAMA, 287: 612-617.

9. Just how tainted has medicine become? Editorial The Lancet, 359, 9313. 2002

10. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. Lexchin, J., Bero, L., Djulbegovic, B. and Clark, O., 2003 British Medical Journal, 326:1167-1170

11. Influence of drug company authorship and sponsorship on drug trial outcomes. Tungaraza, T, and Poole, R., The British Journal of Psychiatry (2007) 191: 82-83.

12. Spin in reports of randomized controlled trials with nonstatistically significant primary outcomes. Boutron I, et al, 2009 International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication.