If you’ve ever been pregnant, you can probably relate to the end-of-pregnancy “blah.” It is when nothing seems to fit, your shirts aren’t long enough to cover your belly and your pants keep wrinkling around the waist in all the wrong places. You are getting constant phone calls and messages asking how you are doing and when that baby is coming. Getting out of bed seems like preparing to thrust yourself up a large mountain, and the sensation of a bowling ball residing in your pelvis creates a waddle in your step. I have always loved being pregnant and felt great throughout, but I seem to hit that wall around 37 weeks where I begin to want my body back.
My husband has always been intentional about making me feel beautiful during pregnancy. However, when stretch marks are multiplying and your feet will only barely slip into your favorite flip-flops, nothing about you feels beautiful sometimes. Early in my third pregnancy, my husband had mentioned that he really wanted me to have belly henna done this time around. I had actually forgotten about it—until the third trimester hit and I started to experience the feelings addressed above. A friend and I had just had a blessingway for another friend of ours and had Sarah Norman of Alternative Artistry come and do a henna design on her belly. I LOVED the outcome and wanted a design for myself.
So, I called Sarah and she was so easy to work with and accommodating to my (crunched) schedule. She came over to our home on a Sunday night and we made it a family affair. My only instructions were to have my belly washed, with no lotion or oils on it, and a dark top on that I would be comfortable sleeping in. I chose to wear my black maternity camisole.
One of the many things I love about Sarah and her henna work is that she is very particular about her henna. She mixes her own paste for safety and freshness, using organic ingredients and only pregnancy- and kid-safe essential oils. She got me comfortably situated in a large chair and started her masterpiece. It was incredible to watch her work as she very meticulously created a free-handed design. During our phone consultation, she had asked me some questions that helped to hone in on a design—such as if I preferred things symmetrical or asymmetrical and floral or abstract.
The henna was in what looked like a small pastry bag with a very small opening at the tip and was very dark in color as she applied it. There was no pressure or discomfort to my belly, and baby was doing her own dance inside as my belly artwork was coming to fruition. It was actually very relaxing and I felt like our conversation was helpful in preparing me for our birth, as she asked about my hopes and fears for my delivery, as well as allowed me to reminisce about my previous labors.
When her design was complete, she spritzed a sugar concoction over my belly to set the henna, laid paper towels over her work, and folded my camisole down over it. Her directions to me were to try to avoid touching my stomach and to let it sit for at least 8-12 hours. With this in mind, I had chosen to have her come over in the evening so I could allow the henna design to set overnight. It was tempting to run my hands over my belly to feel the texture, but there was no itching or discomfort associated with the henna. When I woke up the next morning, I stood in the tub so as to not get dye all over our bathroom and I scraped the dried henna off my abdomen with my nails (some people use a credit card or the side of a spoon). You aren’t supposed to get the design wet, ideally for 24 hours. Where the dark paste design had been was a beautiful bronze creation that made my belly look and feel beautiful. By the third day, the stain was the darkest, and this is when some mamas choose to have professional photos taken of their bellies. Mine stayed very dark for over a week. Her artwork made looking in the mirror at my 38-week pregnant belly exciting, and it made me feel beautiful.
You don’t have to be pregnant to experience Sarah’s henna artistry! She gave my son and husband a henna “tattoo” before she left our house, and she has also attended children’s birthday parties, carnivals, group gatherings, and events to do henna on people’s hands, feet, torso, and arms. As an additional service, she offers private and group blessingways for expecting mothers. Sarah can even add some pizzazz to your next wine night or gathering with your girlfriends. Check out her website, alternativeartistry.com, and Facebook page and beautify your belly or body!