Ayurveda Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy and Baby
May 02, 2017 05:08PM
● By Vaidya Sunita Pandey
During pregnancy, tremendous changes occur within the mother which prepare her for the birth and care of her baby. Mother Nature has ensured that baby’s needs are more important than the mother’s; hence, optimal self-care during pregnancy is essential.
Ayurveda teaches that everyone has a unique energy signature, or dosha, which consists of three different energy subtypes, vata, pitta and kapha. When the doshas are out of balance, dis-ease occurs. Ayurvedic diagnosis and treatment is geared towards balancing the doshas and achieves this through its three pillars of health: aahaar (food), nidra (sleep) and brahmacharya (energy channeling). The baby receives everything that the mother ingests and experiences—the good (healthy food, positive experiences), the bad (alcohol, cigarettes, other pollutants) and the ugly (trauma, stress, drugs, certain medicines). So, an expectant mother needs to pay special attention to the three pillars of health in order to ensure her health as well as that of the child growing within. Following are some great ayurvedic tips for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, baby and postpartum period.
Sattvic foods (filled with life-force energy, or ojas) are recommended to build ojas in both mom and baby. The main sattvic foods are milk and ghee (clarified butter). Milk is best consumed warm as a snack, with added cardamom/turmeric for better digestion. Ghee is nourishing and promotes digestion. Those with dairy sensitivity should avoid milk but can still consume ghee and reap its benefits. One can eat freely of sattvic foods, which include fruits, most vegetables, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains; organic foods are best. A balanced diet that has all six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent—is recommended. Portion control is important and is best achieved by consuming frequent small meals in a mindful manner, such as sitting down to eat, without distractions such as gadgets and T.V.
Stimulating rajasic and dulling tamasic foods should be avoided because they lead to ama, or toxins in the system. Rajasic foods include caffeine and hot or spicy foods, and tamasic foods include steak, desserts and foods that make one feel tired and dull afterwards. Other foods to be avoided include those that are devoid of life-force energy, such as fried, canned, stale or leftover food. Freshly cooked, warm food is recommended. People with food allergies or sensitivities should consult with a Vaidya (ayurvedic doctor) to evaluate their doshas and formulate an individualized dietary plan.
Sleep is the second pillar of health in ayurveda. During sleep, the body recovers from the day, cleanses the blood and rejuvenates the nervous system. As the mother’s body adapts to the changes that are taking place, the mother-to-be should listen to her body regarding rest; it is of paramount importance that sleep duration increases.
The third pillar, energy production and utilization, or the channeling of energy, relates to how the expectant mother spends her waking time. Here are some general recommendations to aid in channeling energy appropriately.
- Abhyanga: an herbal oil body massage by an ayurvedic masseuse.
- Ghee: ingest one to two teaspoons daily.
- Spices: cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, asafoetida
- Meditation and focused breathing: to de-stress.
- Mindful activities: daily walking, swimming and gentle yoga stretches. Note that not all yoga exercises are for everyone. Consultation with a Vaidya or a yoga guru can help one determine the most beneficial exercises.
Morning sickness, a common ailment in the first trimester, is due to elevated pitta. In this scenario, an increase in pitta denotes the shifting hormone levels and the rapid development of the baby’s organs during this period. The following pitta-pacifying foods can be eaten or sucked on to help combat morning sickness: rose petal spread, hibiscus, mint, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Regular consumption of small solid meals is also helpful.
Problems in pregnancy, an indication of dosha imbalance, can include anxiety, depression, preterm labor/delivery, aggression, irritability, lethargy or sedentariness. Consultation with a Vaidya can help one understand the specific dosha imbalance. A treatment plan intended to create a more balanced state may include herbal supplements, simple changes to diet/routine and specific therapies like massage.
Self-care during pregnancy is the first gift that a mother can give to her child, and can produce a strong foundation of health and resilience for the rest of the baby’s life.
Vaidya Sunita Pandey is the chief ayurvedic consultant at Santhigram Wellness Ayurveda Spa, in New Berlin. She has over 13 years of experience as a doctor of ayurveda medicine, initially practicing in India before immigrating to the U.S. Santhigram Wellness is located at 12800 W. National Ave., New Berlin. For more information, call 262-955-6600, email [email protected] or visit SanthigramUSA.com.