Celebrating Pregnancy with Henna Belly Art
Origin of Henna use
Henna art has been practiced for well over 5000 years in India, Pakistan, Africa and throughout the Middle East. For centuries people used henna for its cooling properties by applying plant paste to the palm of the hands and souls of feet staining them. As the paste faded, it left patterns on the skin which has lead to the use of henna as adornment and for decorative purposes.
Today this ancient tradition of adornment has become a popular body decoration for women all over the world. Popularizing the trend are celebrities who show off henna tattoos in public or in movies like Madonna, Yasmine Bleeth, Gwen Stefani, Xena, Liv Tyler and a host of others. Henna is most commonly used for special occasions like weddings; as beautiful artistic designs are applied to the hands and feet of brides and also to the bellies of mothers during pregnancy. In certain cultures, it is the belief that henna art is to protect or bless the mother and baby during her pregnancy and birth. Some other modern reasons for this growing trend may include:
- Self expression and adornment.
- Inspiration and confidence building.
- Blessings and prayer.
- Celebration of motherhood.
- Alternative to a permanent tattoo.
- Part of an ancient tradition.
What is Henna?
Henna leaves from the Lawsonia Inermis (also called henna tree), contain lawsone a redish-orange dye. The leaves are crushed into powder, mixed into a paste and applied to the skin. The temporary tattoo called mehndi appears as the henna binds to the keratin of the skin staining it pale orange to nearly dark brown depending on the quality of the plant material used. Henna is 100% natural and is safe in pregnancy in its natural state with the exception of black henna which contains para-phenylendiamine or other added ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or scarring. Pregnant women who are extremely anemic or having babies with hyperbilirubinemia should avoid using henna during pregnancy.
Getting started with Henna
Some mothers take a day to pamper themselves by relaxing and having their belly embellished with design, while others plan it as part of a group blessing way gathering. Either way, to get started you will need to find a trained henna artist who has experience with different designs, traditional or contemporary, and uses fresh pure henna powders. The average cost for an artist will be around $80 minus gratuity. Another option would be to order a henna kit, and enlist a willing creative friend. A normal henna kit will cost around $30 and should include:
- Introduction, recipe and instructions for henna use.
- 100% natural fresh henna powder.
- Pattern and design ideas for pregnant bellies.
- Applicator and other supplies.
Henna powder should always be stored in a cool dark place in a tightly sealed container to maintain its potency. When planning to do a henna design, be sure to have enough time to relax and allow the artist to do her work, which usually takes around an hour. After your design is completed the paste needs to set on your skin 4 to 8 hours to achieve the desired color result, as it dries and flakes off revealing the beautiful mehndi stain. Your mehndi design will last somewhere between 7-10 days, depending on the chemistry of your skin. It is while the pattern is vibrant that photographs can be taken to add to your album for lasting memories.
What a beautiful way to celebrate your pregnancy!
Charlotte Sanchez(CPM)- is a Certified Professional Midwife and Childbirth Educator of over 20 years.