Linda King Newell. "A Gift Given: A Gift Taken: Washing, Anointing and Blessing the Sick Among Mormon Women." Sunstone Vol. 22 (1999): 30-43.
John Sillito and Constance L. Lieber. "'In Blessing We too Were Blessed': Mormon Women and Spiritual Gifts." Weber Studies Vol. 5.1 (Spring 1988): 61-73.
The modern Blessingway originated around the 1970s, when midwives used the Navajo Blessing Way ritual as inpiration for recreating a meaningful ceremony to honor a pregnant woman's transition into motherhood. Nowadays, secular Blessingways bear little resemblance to the original Navajo ceremonies.
I feel it's important to remember our spiritual and cultural practices that so often go forgotten. Until I came across these articles when I was a PhD student doing research for a history of medicine class, I had no idea that women of my own faith used to hold these kinds of gatherings. Below is an passage from pages 37-38 of the Sunstone article, parts of which I read at my Blessingway. The excerpts come from the minute book of the Oakley Idaho Second Ward Relief Society. Evidently they felt it was important enough to record word for word. As far as I can tell, this was written down around 1909.
The first two blessing follow each other closely with only minor changes in the wording here and there. The blessings were specific and comprehensive.We anoint your spinal column that you might be strong and healthy no disease fasten upon it no accident belaff [befall] you, your kidneys that they might be active and health and preform [sic] their proper functions, your bladder that it might be strong and protected from accident, your Hips that your system might relax and give way for the birth of your child, your sides that your liver, your lungs, and spleen that they might be strong and preform their proper functions, . . . your breasts that your milk may come freely and you need not be afflicted with sore nipples as many are, your heart that it might be comforted.They continued by requesting blessings from the Lord on the unborn child's health and expressed the hope that it might not come before its "full time" and thatthe child shall present right for birth and that the afterbirth shall come at its proper time . . . and you need not flow to excess. . . . We anoint . . . your thighs that they might be healthy and strong that you might be exempt from cramps and from the bursting of veins. . .The document combines practical considerations, more common to women's talk over the back fence, with the reassuring solace and compassion of being anointed with the balm of sisterhood. The women sealed the blessing:Sister ___ we unitedly lay our hands upon you to seal the washing and anointing wherewith you have been washed and anointed for your safe delivery, for the salvation of you and your child and we ask God to let his special blessings to rest upon you, that you might sleep sweet at night that your dreams might be pleasant and that the good spirit might guard and protect you from every evil influence spirit and power that you may go your full time and that every blessing that we have asked God to confer upon you and your offspring may be literally fulfilled that all fear and dread may be taken from you and that you might trust in God. All these blessings we unitedly seal upon you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.The tender attention to both the women's psychological and physical state is an example of loving service and gentleness. That this widespread practice continued in similar form for several more decades is illustrated by the account written by a Canadian sister.In the years from the early 1930s on, in the Calgary Ward R.S. under presidents--Bergeson, Maude Hayes, Lucile Ursenbach, the sisters often asked for a washing and blessing before going into the hospital for an operation or childbirth. In this ordinance two sisters washed the parts of the body, pronouncing appropriate words of prayer and blessing, . . . and at the conclusion put their hands on the head of the recipient and, in the name of the Lord pronounced a further blessing.