Ayurvedic Tips For Pregnancy
In the 1st trimester, stick to light, semi-solid foods (porridge with rice, pulses) and more of fluids (milk with honey, ghee) followed by an increased intake of cereals, protein-rich foods during 2nd trimester and a diet high in fat, protein (meat soups) during 3rd trimester. Try herbs like ashwagandha, gokshura with milk+ghee; oil massage to promote a smooth pregnancy.
Motherhood brings on a mixture of excitement, anxiety, and everything in between. After all, you’re suddenly responsible for bringing a baby into the world. Naturally, your mind will be racing with a million questions. Now that you’re pregnant, should you be doing (or not doing) certain things? What should your diet be like? How much should you eat? It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Don’t worry, though. Ayurveda has your back. Ancient Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita have many tips for pregnant women. In fact, Ayurveda has a detailed regimen, known as garbhini paricharya, to guide you through pregnancy. This regimen describes the ideal diet, healthy herbs, and important practices.
An Ayurvedic Guide To Pregnancy
1. Healthy Diet
Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the baby’s normal development and the mother’s health. And since the baby’s nutritional requirements change throughout pregnancy, the recommendations for the mother will also change. The diet is also tailored to encourage normal urine and stool elimination along with an easy delivery. The focus is on local, seasonal foods.
Many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester. As a result, there is a possibility for undernourishment or dehydration. A liquid diet should prevent this. It is considered to be better than heavy, solid food since it’s light on the stomach. Milk is considered especially beneficial as it is a nourishing food that can prevent dehydration and supply calcium, fat, and protein. Milk (with honey and ghee) and light porridge (with rice and pulses) are recommended during this period.1
For the next three months, a sweet and heavy liquid diet focused on cereals is considered ideal.2 Cooked red rice (a variety known as shastika) with milk, sweetened curd, and milk with butter are beneficial. To support the growth of the baby’s muscular tissue from the fourth month onward, the diet needs more protein. Meat soups are recommended.3
A solid diet rich in fat and protein, along with a sufficient intake of fluids, is suggested for the last three months.4 A variety of cereals, rice soup with ghee, split moong bean soup, unctuous gruels, and meat soups are considered beneficial during this time.5 6
2. Beneficial Herbs
Ayurvedic texts detail many herbal medications that can help during pregnancy.
A preparation of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in milk and ghee (ashwagandha ghrita) is to be consumed during the first trimester. Since ashwagandha builds tissues, this preparation ensures proper formation of tissues and organs in the baby. Ashwagandha is also known for its anxiety-reducing properties, helping an expectant mother stay calm and making pregnancy enjoyable. The ghee (clarified butter) helps build overall health and immunity.7
By the end of the second trimester, many women suffer from swollen feet and water retention. Using gokshura (Tribulus terrestris), a herb which has diuretic properties, will prevent water retention in the sixth month. As a diuretic, gokshura can also help treat pregnancy-induced hypertension.8
Ayurveda also recommends other medicinal herbs (garbhasthapaka dravyas) for the mother’s general health and the baby’s growth and development. Some of these herbs include brahmi (Centella asiatica), aindri (Bacopa monnieri), satavirya (Asparagus racemosus), amogha (Stereospermum suaveolens), shiva (Terminalia chebula), and arista (Picrorhiza kurroa), vishwasenkanta (Callicarpa macrophylla). They should be consumed with milk and ghee. Taking a bath in a cold decoction of these herbs is also recommended.9 However, remember that you should not take any herbal medications or supplements without checking with your doctor, especially when you’re pregnant. Self-medication is not recommended.
3. Beneficial Practices
Ayurveda advises expectant mothers to get oil massages (tailabhyanga) from the third month until delivery. A massage can take care of aches and pains while energizing you. It’s also good for your skin, improving texture and reducing the chances of stretch marks. Commonly available oils like castor, sesame, and coconut oil can be used for the massage. Some medicated oils like masha taila and ksheerbala taila are also beneficial.10 An expert practitioner will tailor the massage to your pregnancy, ensuring your safety and well-being.
Enemas with medicated oil (anuvasana basti) are sometimes recommended to relieve constipation in the eighth month.11 It is also supposed to help detox the body and pave the way for a smooth delivery.12
Ayurveda advocates the practice of using a medicated vaginal tampon or swab after the eighth month. Also known as yoni pichu, this procedure involves daily placement of a swab soaked in medicated oil in the vaginal canal to ensure a smooth passage of the baby during delivery.13 The oil may also eliminate pathogenic bacteria present in the vaginal canal.14 This sets the body up for a smooth delivery and reduces the chances of postpartum complications.15
One caveat, though. You need an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner to guide you through these processes. Never attempt these on your own.
4. Things To Avoid
Ayurveda also details certain measures related to diet (aahar), thoughts and emotion (vichar), and activity (vihar) that must be avoided during pregnancy.
- It is best to stay away from pungent, heavy, and spicy foods that are difficult to digest. Ayurveda also does not recommend fasting, as this can withhold nutrients from your baby. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is not considered acceptable.
- Various activities like exercise, carrying heavy weights, or even walking excessively are best avoided during pregnancy. Do not stay out in the sun for too long. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule and avoid erratic patterns such as sleeping during the day and staying awake at night.
- According to Ayurveda, anything that a mother takes in – including thoughts and experiences – the baby becomes. In fact, Charaka Samhita tells us that a mother should be treated with as much care and attention as a vessel filled with oil. She should not be agitated.16 Therefore, it is considered ideal if the expectant mother is happy and content. The emotions of anger, grief, fear, or excessive excitement are not good for the baby. Ayurvedic texts also mention that you should refrain from behaving poorly. For example, you should not mistreat others during pregnancy.17
References [ + ]
|1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 14, 17.||↑||Lakshmi, Vijay, and Sarika Srivastav. “Garbhini paricharya: Antenatal care in Ayurveda.” Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine (JAHM) 1, no. 8 (2013): 24-31.|
|2, 4, 13.||↑||Bajpai, Vd Smita. “Role of Ayurveda in promoting maternal and child health.” Ancient science of life 28, no. 1 (2008): 16.|
|6.||↑||Kumar, Sanwariya Rahul, Mishra Pramod Kumar, and Sharma Indumati. “AN AYURVEDIC DIETARY APPROACH IN PREGNANT WOMEN-A REVIEW.”|
|7, 10.||↑||Jayashree, K. S. “Maternal care through mainstreaming Ayurvedic approach.” Ancient science of life 28, no. 1 (2008): 49.|
|12, 15.||↑||Mittal, Sachin and Gupta, Rajesh. “EFFECT OF ANUVASANA BASTI AND YONI PICHU IN SUKH PRASAVA & REDUCING POSTPARTUM COMPLICATIONS.” International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, 2016.|
|16.||↑||Bachman, Margo. Yoga Mama, Yoga Baby: Ayurveda and Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth. Sounds True, 2013.|