If you are pregnant or thinking about pregnancy then you might probably know the basic advice related to pregnancy. Here are a few more tips that ensure a healthy and safe prenatal development. Pregnancy is a life-changing experience for a woman. This time can also be challenging as a woman goes through a number of changes so that the body can support the growth of a new life. Here comes Ayurveda as an addition to the care provided by doctors. Ayurveda seeks to provide support in both physical and emotional way.
Ayurveda provides a few strategies that can help to maintain a positive vibe throughout pregnancy while maintaining a balance between the flow of energy. These will also help in triggering good health and provide a steady and uninterrupted development of the foetus.
There must be an absolute balance of Apana Vata (Vata governing the downward motion such as the excretion of toxins and feces) at the time of pregnancy. This downward flow of energy must not be too weak and it must not be too strong as well. So as to restore balance, Ayurveda suggests good food, rest and oil massage. This is the key to maintaining pregnancy and delivering the child at the time of labour.
The best advice for nutrition would be to eat whatever you are feeling like. However, the food must be fresh as well as wholesome. Vegetable intake is important especially when you are pregnant. Dark, leafy greens such as broccoli, kale and collards are preferred. A vast spectrum of vitamins and nutrients can be obtained from vegetables. A mother should consume all 6 tastes but focus mainly on three tastes which are sour, salt and sweet. For example, you can consume dairy (butter, yoghurt and whole milk), oil (ghee and olive oil), fruits, beans (mung), nuts (blanched almonds), sweeteners (natural sugar and honey) and spices (ginger, cumin).
‘What’ and ‘how’ of food consumption is equally important. A pregnant woman should feel happy, satisfied and light after having a meal. There should be a gap of three hours in between meals and she must be seated while eating. Sattvic foods such as milk and ghee are good for building ojas or immunity. Milk must be consumed when it is warm and only as a snack, not a meal. Tamasic foods such as meat, alcohol, cheese, mushrooms, garlic and eggs are hard to digest and therefore a pregnant woman should consume them with caution. Nourishment of the foetus is of prime concern at all stages of pregnancy. In the case of inadequate nutrients, there will be complications in organ development. A pregnant woman should understand the body language and eat whenever she feels hungry. Steady weight gain on healthy foods is an important factor. There must not be worries of too much or too less weight gain.
The greatest care is important during the first and the last trimester. Emphasis must be given on rasa and rakta during the first trimester. For example, one should consume more juicy fruits, milk and coconut water. Similarly, during the last trimester, emphasis on less water, less salt and less fat are required. Adequate light, pure water, vital foodstuffs, loving relationships, controlled breath, positive and joyous thoughts are excellent nutrition sources for a pregnant woman. If you were consuming meat, poultry, eggs and fish then you must not drastically change your diet when you are pregnant. This drastic change can result in the release of toxins to your child and your body will need different enzymes to assimilate vegetable protein rather than animal protein. Vegetarians can also have a healthy pregnancy while remaining on their diet. One must remember that 300 more calories are required and a variety of foods must be consumed with an adequate amount of protein. Extra calcium is also recommended during the second half of pregnancy to ensure adequate jaw growth.
The main components of the daily routine of a pregnant woman should include going to bed early and waking up early. Ayurveda suggests that you should go to bed during Kapha time (6 pm – 10 pm) and wake up before Kapha time (6 am – 10 am). When you are waking up before 6 am, the energy, alertness and vitality is greater. Naps should only be taken during hot summer months and it must be avoided at other times. Taking rest is required mostly during the first and last two months.
According to Ayurveda, stress and fatigue can be relieved with abhyanga (a full-body self-massage). Apply warm oil and massage all parts of the body followed by a warm bath or shower. Just a foot massage can also help in balancing Vata. Sesame oil or almond oil can be used for the massage. The calmer the mom the calmer will be the baby. Gentle massage on the abdomen is required and during the last two months, the focus should be on nipples so as to prepare for nursing.
The best exercise for a pregnant woman would include swimming, yoga asanas and walking. Yoga helps a pregnant woman in relaxing even when exercising. Yoga is also considered safe and it helps in improving birth weight while decreasing pre-term labour.
The most important aspect of a child’s emotional and physical well-being is the maternal attitude. According to popular belief, for the baby to be happy the mother must be happy. Music can play a great role in happiness. According to a number of studies, soothing and uplifting music helps in increasing the baby’s intelligence. The sound of veena, flute and Samaveda mantras are able to provide health to the pregnant woman and child.
There are a lot of health challenges of pregnancy which one can easily prevent if proper attention is paid to nutrition. For example, low blood sugar can result in morning sickness and mood swings while inadequate calcium can result in backaches, labour pain and hypertension. Taking care of such challenges will require you to take care of even before the pregnancy period begins. Ayurveda focuses on the fact that prevention is the easiest approach that one can have towards their health.
Even after the best efforts, challenges can appear. A pregnant woman can come across various complications such as heartburn, kidney problems, backache, insomnia, constipation, nausea, vomiting, high or low blood pressure and other complication.
Total caution is required in case of treatment of a pregnant woman. Everything from drugs to diet must be pleasant and tender. During the last month of pregnancy, she should eat a diet that reduces Vata. A pregnant woman must not hold back urine or bowel movements and avoid getting jarred.
The most common problem for a pregnant woman is morning sickness. Here are a few tips to get rid of morning sickness.
- Make a powder of cardamom seeds after roasting them and then eat a small pinch of it throughout the day.
- Keep snacking on dry crackers or toast.
- Sip on hot tea that is made from ginger powder and or fennel seeds and water.
- Sleep in a semi-inclined position.
Preparation for the baby:
The period of pre-conception and pregnancy are the apt time for planning for delivery and postpartum recovery. This time one will have to decide where they want the delivery to take place, who will be the doctor and how will be the mother and baby taken care of after the baby’s birth. Big changes must be avoided at this point in time. According to Ayurveda, movements can result in an increase of Vata thereby delaying in the bond between a mother and her baby and resulting in postpartum depression.
Ayurveda is a complementary addition to the treatment and care provided by doctors. A mother goes through huge emotional and physical change while supporting and creating a new life. The family members must take an active part in ensuring that the mother-to-be is happy. The practice of daily acts of happiness is also needed for the mother-to-be.