Pregnancy is a rejuvenating experience in a woman’s life according to Ayurveda because every cell in the woman’s body can be transformed. In Ayurveda, human conception is compared 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. Great importance is given to the quality of the seed (ovum). In addition to the female seed, the mother also provides the ‘soil (i.e. uterus), nutrition and the right season’ for the seed to grow.
Ayurveda prescribes specific nutritional measures for the growth and protection of the woman to keep her in vital health. The general rules of antenatal care are given. The husband and other family members are advised to oversee the pregnant woman’s diet and encourage activities that are healthy and enjoyable to her and beneficial for the child developing in her body.
Ayurvedic Advice For Healthy Pregnancy
Garbhini Vyakarana (Development of the Embryo)
The wisdom regarding pregnancy is found in both the Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas under the subject of “Garbhini Vyakarana”. Guidelines regarding diet, activities, behavior and mental activity (ahar, vihar, achar, and vichar, respectively) are also detailed. For a couple to produce healthy offspring, both the partners should be careful about their diet, activities, behavior and emotional status before as well as after conception.
It is described as the ‘regimen of a pregnant woman’ in Ayurveda. It refers to the diet, medications, conduct and behavior that an expectant mother should follow during pregnancy. A few of them would be reading spiritual books, avoiding papaya and pineapple and not sleeping during the day.
Garbha Sanskar refers to good habits, morals and values given to a baby while the baby is in the Garbha (womb). It comprises of music, talks, guided imagery etc. to educate the baby. It calls for the mother to stay relaxed and calm during pregnancy and talks about performing spiritual and meditation to stay healthy.
Nutrition For Healthy Pregnancy
While the conventional advice for cravings suggests you to look at psychological reasons for cravings to appear, during pregnancy indulge in your cravings. Your body has immense knowledge about what you need to nourish yourself and the baby. But, of course, follow a well-balanced diet, with meals including adequate amounts of protein, healthy starch, and veggies. Honor your unique cravings in moderation, especially after the fourth month when the cravings you experience are more likely those of the baby.
The energy of the nervous system is vata which has to be balanced. Aahar (diet), Vihaar (lifestyle) and Vichaar (thoughts) should be sattvic in nature. The Vedic texts recommend sattvic foods, which means pure, easily digested foods that nourish the dhatus (tissues) of mother and the unborn child. These include foods such as milk, rice, wheat, and ghee (clarified butter), fresh vegetables, fruits and grains.
Sattvic foods do not cause constipation or indigestion, and they create a more settled state of mind. These foods help the mother enjoy ideal health and vitality, and also help with the growth of the baby. Avoid eating leftovers as much as possible as it can increase vata in your system.
Food to Avoid
Avoid hot, spicy food, uncooked leafy greens and uncooked beans, lentils as they can cause gas. Avoid artificial flavors, preservatives and chemical additives.
Tastes To Indulge
Eat all 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent), but emphasize sweet, sour, and salty. (these three tastes incidentally also balance Vata). Examples include dairy (whole milk, butter, and yogurt), sweeteners (honey and natural sugar), oils (olive oil and ghee), fruits
Two of the main components of a daily routine are going to bed early and waking up early. It’s important to go to bed during the kapha time of day (6 pm to 10pm). It is easier to fall asleep and sleep will be more restful. It is important to wake up before the kapha time of day (6 am to 10am). Energy, vitality and alertness are greater if waking before 6 am. Naps should be avoided except during the hot summer months. Rest though should be frequent and before feeling tired. The rest is especially needed in the first two months of pregnancy as well as the last two months.
Abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, is recommended. Stress and fatigue that may push vata dosha out of balance are relieved through abhyanga. These oils feed the microbiology on the skin, as well as calm the skin-based sensory nervous system of the mother-to-be. The calmer the mom, the calmer the baby. This can be self-massage, or an opportunity to get massaged by a loving partner.
Warm sesame oil by placing a container in warm water. Apply oil with an open palm using long strokes on the long bones and circular strokes on the joints. Massage all parts of the body and very gently apply oil to the abdomen. A warm bath or shower after the abhyanga helps open the channels of circulation. Massage of the nipples is recommended after the 4th month.
Foot massage can also be used to help balance vata. Energy will be kept flowing throughout the body and all systems will be stimulated. This would be an excellent activity for the partner to perform. Use sesame or almond oil. Warm baths are also an option that can relax the muscles allowing better circulation and preventing stagnation of toxins.