Having henna art lovingly applied to your belly (or any part of your body) when pregnant can be fun and special way to celebrate your pregnancy. This event can be planned as part of a baby shower or blessingway or you may choose to do it with a friend, family member, or your partner. Recently a few of our mamas had henna art applied on their bellies and wanted to share their experience here!
What is Henna?
Henna, or Mehndi (in Sanskrit), is a natural dye made from a particular flowering plant, which is often mixed with additional ingredients such as essential oils, lemon juice, turmeric, and/or other natural ingredients. Henna has been used for centuries (some say for up to 9000 years) to dye skin, hair, fingernails, and fabrics. In Ancient Egypt and parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia (including India and Pakistan), and Europe (e.g the Roman Empire) henna was used for cosmetic purposes—history has it that Cleopatra used henna. It was also used by people who could not afford jewelry, but wished to adorn their bodies. Henna was, and still is, often used in rituals such as holidays, birthdays and weddings in these areas.
One of the most popular rituals was and remains the Mehndi night when the bride and her family and friends get together to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. They play games, listen to music, and dance; while the bride gets extensive henna patterns applied on her body. Guests often receive smaller designs as well.
Tradition says that so long as the henna stain appears on the bride, she doesn't have to do any housework! Perhaps that rule could be extended to pregnant mamas who have their bodies adorned with henna art.
Here in the West, henna was popularized in the 90s and many celebrities have sported henna designs over the last few decades. Women in the West currently use henna to dye their hair or adorn their skin for weddings, during pregnancy, during illness (some people make crowns on their heads during the chemo process if hair is lost), and just for fun.
Henna is essentially used to create a temporary tattoo that lasts anywhere from five days to three weeks, depending on what parts of the body are adorned, how it is applied, and other factors. Hands, feet, wrists and ankles tend to stain the best. Henna is considered safe to use in pregnancy and while nursing. It is always a good idea to find a reputable henna artist who uses high quality ingredients.
Health Foundations Mamas’ Henna Story
Recently two fabulous Health Foundations mamas, Liz and Rochelle, thought belly henna would be a fun way to celebrate their pregnancies. Due within a month of each other, it was a great way for them to come together and celebrate their upcoming births! They found a local henna artist named Tasia, called her up, and set a time around 37 to 38 weeks (for the mama furthest along)—it was super easy. She sent them lots of examples of henna belly art before they met, so the ladies could choose the design they liked the best. Coincidentally, both mamas chose the same design; although each was executed a little differently.
The henna artist came to their home, which they loved! Each belly took about 1.5 hours and cost between $40 and 60. Liz’s two little girls each got a small design for about $5.
Rochelle reports that the experience was fun and super relaxing. The henna, which Tasia makes herself, smelled amazing, like lavender. Tasia only does henna above the belly button for religious reasons, but she has a friend who will do full belly henna.
Both mamas thought having a henna day was a really fun way to honor their pregnancies.