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Ayurveda & Pregnancy: Importance of Self Care

In conventional medicine, when a woman thinks she is pregnant, she goes to the doctor, is given a pregnancy test and her blood pressure, pulse rate, and weight are checked. Then she is advised to eat a generally healthy diet and to take some prenatal vitamins. In both my pregnancies, I remember thinking how this prenatal advice doesn’t give any specific recommendations for maintaining a happy and healthy pregnancy.

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In Ayurveda, it has been recognized for thousands of years that the mother must be very happy and feel harmony with nature during pregnancy.

For this, various steps and key practices have been recognized. One is the social environment, which means that the family tries to keep momma happy, especially the husband! The Ayurvedic tradition says, “Let her hear good news, let her hear harmonious music, let her eat sweet foods, let her attend monthly celebrations to always keep her uplifted and nourished.”

Modern scientific research shows that if there is stress, grief, sorrow, or depression, those negative emotions most definitely affect the growth of the baby. The baby could be born with a lower birth weight, or the baby could be less happy.

When the mother is not as happy or settled during pregnancy, the newborn child experiences more colic, more crying, more sleep problems.

 

Here are some Ayurvedic ways a mother can include self-care during pregnancy:

 

1. The Vedic texts recommend adding more sattvic foods to the diet, which means pure, easily-digested foods that nourish the dhatus (tissues) of the mother and the unborn child. These include foods such as milk, rice, wheat, 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.

 

2. Daily abhyanga, the Ayurvedic oil massage, are recommended for the mother. Mothers who do this once a day, on arising, find that they feel more evenness, more balance, more energy throughout the day. The massage and other techniques balance Vata dosha (the mind-body operator that governs movement and many mental functions), so the mother feels more steady, more even, less anxious. There is more happiness, even in the body itself, and more balance in the entire nervous system.

 

3. Daily meditation is a profound way for pregnant mothers to reduce stress, experience deep rest, and bring balance to all the doshas. When there is balance in the nervous system of the mother, the baby spontaneously grows in a very happy and healthy way.

 

The newborn is such an important divine creature, such a precious individual. The mother must take care of herself, and in taking care of herself, she takes care of the child.

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