Prenatal Care in Ayurveda
The management of physiology, psychology with medicinal and non medicinal ways to achieve healthy mother and foetus is called as Antenatal or prenatal care. The management of pregnant lady and pregnancy care according to modern science is based on the supervision of the physiology of the pregnancy.
According to WHO, it consists of proper intrapartum foetal surveillance, examination of the vital parameters of the woman like weight, cardiac activity and the systemic examination. Foetal surveillance is performed by clinical examination like foetal heart sound, investigations like Ultrasonography, Colour Doppler etc. The medicines given are mainly iron, calcium and multivitamin supplements for the prophylaxis of anemia and for proper foetal growth.
Ayurveda places an enormous emphasis on the importance of pregnancy care for the mother before, during and after pregnancy. Yoga and Ayurveda being the ancient scientific medicinal systems of the world , have a significant contribution in the field of human reproduction. Aim of pregnancy care by Ayurveda is to achieve proper growth of the fetus, uncomplicated pregnancy, normal healthy delivery of fetus and wellbeing of both mother and baby.
In one of its most famous teaching analogies, Ayurveda compares human conception to the germination and sprouting of a seed and its transformation into a sapling. When the male and female seeds unite and the soul enters the union, an embryo (garbha) is created. Ayurveda gives great importance to the quality of the seed (ovum). In addition to the female seed, the mother also provides the ‘ideal terrain’ (i.e. the uterus) into which the seed is to be planted. Young women less than sixteen years of age and boys under twenty should not bear children.
Ancient Indian medicine has recognized the need for the mental, spiritual and physical preparation of the women expecting to conceive. Ayurveda suggests procedures and medicines for the preparation of the couple planning pregnancy, three months prior to conception.
Procedures and herbs for the purification of the gametes (sperm and ovum) is the first step. This includes methods for achieving a healthy state of mind. If the couple is not in a state of mental stability and calmness, even if they are physically fit, they cannot give birth to a healthy baby.
Ayurveda prescribes a particular daily practice for the pregnant woman. Along with the prescription for diet, Yoga and routine body care, instructions are also given for reading material, subjects of discussion, and music to be listened to etc. Thoughts and feelings of the parents affect the baby. According to Indian philosophies, even before the thought is expressed, it remains in an unexpressed form in the deeper levels of consciousness. From this moment onwards thoughts of mother can reach the baby.
Pregnancy Care in Ayurveda
This is achieved through three stages
- Treatment procedures
- Herbs for purifying male and female gametes
- Providing mental calmness for achieving conception.
In this stage general and specific medical advice is given to correct any conditions which may affect production of healthy sperm and ovum. Proper advice is given to the couple and relatives to provide and sustain a healthy and calm environment.
Procedures and advices for keeping mother and foetus healthy.
During pregnancy, mother may have different health problems. Ayurveda describes nine diseases, which are caused because of the pregnant status of the woman. These diseases are peculiar to pregnancy and are called garbhopadravas. They are nausea, anorexia, vomiting, and dryness of mouth, fever, edema, anemia, diarrhea and retention of urine. Their specific treatments are also elaborately described.
Any disease occurring in a pregnant woman should be treated with drugs that are mild in action, compatible and safe to the fetus. Pancha karma (detoxifying procedures) should not be advocated, except vasthi (enema) in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy.
Each of such situations should be carefully managed with safe medicines suggested by a qualified Ayurvedic doctor.
Ayurveda doctors advice pregnant woman not to watch films depicting scenes of horror, murder, and violence. It can produce negative effect on the baby’s character in future. During pregnancy she should keep company only with people who have a favorable influence over her. She should read fine literature, look at the beautiful works of art, listen to soft music, contemplate pleasant landscapes and have only positive and constructive thoughts.
Visiting lonely places, going to riverbanks alone, thoughts and disputes which provoke anger can harm both mother and the baby and should always be avoided. Looking at the setting sun, stars, solar and lunar eclipses are contraindicated during pregnancy.
Ayurveda offers specific diet and lifestyle guidelines to follow during the nine months. Eat food that is mild, easy to digest and maintain regular meal timings. It is better to avoid spicy foods, sexual intercourse, heavy exercises, fall or trauma, weight loss programmes, negative feelings, difficult postures like balancing on one leg or squatting and exposure to unhappy or violent events.
Have milk mixed with the above-mentioned natural supplements.
Have the same sweet natural supplements, but now mix them with milk, honey and ghee.
Continue the supplement regime of the fourth month. Oil application and gentle massage followed by a bath with lukewarm water is recommended. Continue this till delivery.
Mothers-to-be may feel an itchy sensation on the breast and abdomen or a burning sensation in chest or throat due to increased size of fetus.
Eat food in smaller quantities, frequently, and a bite of sweet something with a little ghee or oil that is easy to digest. Ensure that your salt intake during this period is reduced to a minimum. Also, avoid drinking water immediately after a meal.
Eat rice prepared with milk in semi-solid or liquid form with ghee.
Follow the same diet as in the eighth month. Meat soup with cooked rice gruel with ghee.
Things to avoid
- Fasting and overeating
- Staying up late at night and sleeping during the day time
- Long hours of travelling in a vehicle or an aircraft, or on rough roads
- Dry, heavy, fermented, intense or hot food, alcohol and smoking
- Avoid lifting heavy things as it will strain your back and abdomen
- Listening or watching things that give rise to feelings of anger, agony, sorrow or horror
- Sitting for a long time on hard surfaces in uncomfortable positions
Go for Ayurvedic therapies
Various research and modern investigation have shown the significant role of Ayurvedic massage during pregnancy. It is a safe and efficient ritual, which should be given careful consideration. Prenatal massage is beneficial in numerous ways. It has mental, physiological, physical and spiritual benefits. Pregnancy massage helps to relax the mind and body of a pregnant woman.
Abhyanga, an Ayurvedic therapeutic massage, is an anointing of the body with warm oil, often permeated with balancing essential oils and healing herbs. From the sixth month onwards, regular abhyanga massage is believed to promote easy labour. Other therapies like Shirodhara, belly massage, head massage, and foot massage are also effective for relaxing the nervous system. Make sure you follow the proper guidelines of a medical doctor before performing these therapies.
Best Ayurveda Pregnancy Care Approaches
Pregnancy is invariably a euphoric period for a mother, even more so for the ones who are about to have their first babies. But it is a major practice in itself, complete with several ups and downs. For this period, it would be helpful to adopt the following approaches as suggested by an Ayurvedic practitioner:
1) Creating Your Womb- Every mother to be craves for an environment of peace, safety, love, and warmth during pregnancy. Even sudden noises and acupuncture needles may disturb their emotional well-being. As per Ayurveda, the ‘Vata dosha’ is high during this time, which the to-be mother should know and try to calm her senses. A conscious effort towards calmness, possibly through watching favourite TV shows, sipping on hot chocolate, and listening to music would help. This would make the expecting mother enjoy her pregnancy more.
2) Being Positive about the Body- It is not a hidden fact that women gain a large amount of weight during pregnancy. Bellies swell up and knees thicken, making women work hard to remain positive about their bodies. To feel positive, women simply need to know about how their entire bodies are performing miracles to create babies. More information about what the body goes through can be obtained by downloading pregnancy apps. It’s a time when they should focus more about the enormous capability of the female human body, and diet and lifestyle. In addition, women will also have glowing skins and lustres in their eyes.
3) Remain Social– It is not a good idea to stop meeting people just because of pregnancy. Of course, there may be problems in visiting different places, but technology can also be used. Whenever there are problems or when there are good times in pregnancy, to-be mothers need others to speak to. Such communication will always comes across like a fresh whiff of oxygen. Slowly, entire tribes of future mothers will be able to get in touch with each other and share notes.
For consultation on pregnancy and delivery as per Ayurveda in Melbourne, meet one of our consultants. We also offer Ayurvedic recommendations for post natal care to new mothers.