This guest post by Dr. Ali is an introduction to Ayurvedic post-natal care, a holistic practice that has been adopted by different cultures all over the world. Keep reading to understand the supportive post-partum measures Ayurveda offers to mothers during this vulnerable time.
Introduction: What is Ayurvedic Wellness?
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian healing system that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on balancing the body and the mind.
It is based on a deep understanding of how natural energies flow through the body, and how to keep these energies balanced through nutritious meals, focused movement and mind-body practices.
Postpartum moms can benefit from an Ayurvedic approach in many ways. For example, it can help with postpartum depression and anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, constipation and diarrhea. It can also be used to help to lose weight after pregnancy and strengthen the pelvic muscles.
Ayurvedic healing considers the person as a whole. It not only focuses on the mother’s diet, but provides a framework for mental nourishment and physical conditioning.
Why is Postnatal Care Critically Important?
The first few weeks after giving birth is a time of powerful shifts and changes for a new mom. With so much happening in your life, it can be easy to fall into some traps that can leave you feeling exhausted, anxious, or depressed.
In addition, there are hormonal changes happening inside the body to support breast milk production and reverse the changes associated with pregnancy and delivery.
It’s important to get the proper care and know what steps to take after giving birth in order to make this transition as smooth as possible.
What is Special About Postpartum Ayurvedic Care?
Postpartum Ayurvedic care is a framework that provides support and guidance to new mothers so they can meet their physical and emotional needs while optimizing healing.
By providing proper postpartum care of the mother, Ayurveda also supports the baby’s health. This occurs by delivering positive energy, nourishment and protection to the new baby through the mother.
The three pillars of Postpartum Ayurvedic Care include
- Nutrition: Balanced home-cooked meals provide a proper diet to meet the physical needs of the new mama
- Yoga: Aligns the mind and body to allow for relaxation and restoration of healing potential. This not only helps reduce stress but also improves blood circulation, facilitates weight loss, and enhances movement and flexibility.
- Self body massage: Daily self-massage provides self love and care. It allows for the mother to focus on herself and nourish her body through touch, activation of lymph drainage, improved circulation and relaxation.
Each of these components are explained in more detail in the upcoming sections.
The Mother’s Diet: 3 Foods To Eat
The energy and nutrition requirements during the postpartum period are high due to the production of milk, increased stress associated with taking care of the newborn, and the physical and functional changes of the entire body.
The bodily systems that are changing during this time include hormones, cardiac (heart related), renal (kidney related), hematologic (blood related) and reproductive systems. In addition, there is a risk of postpartum depression and anxiety if there is inadequate nutritional support or if a social support network is lacking.
Here are 3 foods to eat
- Spicy foods are believed to increase the digestive fire in the body and stimulate circulation in the pelvic region which helps balance hormones. Examples include chilies, garlic, onion, and fresh ginger or ginger powder.
- Turmeric (the golden spice) can be added to your meals to induce healing and reduce inflammation. Curcumin is the active ingredient in Tumeric and research indicates that it is helpful in reducing pain, improving mood including depression and anxiety. Adding a pinch of turmeric powder to soups, omelets, smoothies, curries, stir fries and marinades is a good idea.
- Ghee is considered liquid gold in Ayurveda. It has fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K along with antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It has an important substance Butyrate which plays a very important role in boosting immunity. It improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. These healing properties help the mother with fulfilling her and her baby’s nutritional needs. Use ghee for preparing (frying, roasting and sautéing) your meals.
The Mother’s Diet: 3 Foods You Should Avoid
According to Ayurveda the postpartum period is a highly sensitive period when the digestive system is weak. Therefore, consuming meals that are warm, fresh and easy to digest is encouraged.
Here are foods to avoid
- Avoid raw, cold and crunchy vegetables. You should cook vegetables in soups, stews or stir fries, or you can roast or saute them. Make sure you add lots of good quality fats like Ghee during cooking.
- Avoid dense, rough, and dry legumes that are harder to cook. Preferably use legumes such as red lentils and mung beans that cook easily and are easily digested.
- Avoid all forms of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Use dates, jaggery and honey for sweetening your meals and desserts. Do not heat or cook with honey.
Fast Track Yourself to a Healthy Weight – 5 Yoga Poses To Do at Home
Yoga can be a great way to de-stress and work on your breathing during the postpartum period. It provides a good balance of strengthening and stretching exercises. Yoga is also helpful for losing weight.
One of the most important aspects of postnatal yoga is learning how to modify poses according to your specific needs. This is so you don’t put too much strain on your body. Start slow and build up gradually. Make sure that you are not exerting the muscles of your abdomen.
Here are 5 yoga poses you can do at home:
1. Cat Cow Pose
2. Bridge Pose
3. Mountain Pose
4. Child’s Pose
5. Legs Up The Wall Pose
Seek help from a yoga teacher to identify your specific needs. This is important to ensure that you can safely perform these poses, especially if you have joint pain or physical limitations from a C-section.
Ayurvedic Massage: Self Body Massage to Boost Your Mental Health
The postnatal period is a time of immense change for women. You have carried a baby for 9 months followed by the process of childbirth which includes intense pressure and pain during delivery.
This can be the most challenging and the most rewarding time of your life. It is important to take care of your mental health during this transition.
Abhyanga or self body massage is an Ayurvedic practice. It is recommended during the postpartum period to bring ‘self love’ and compassion to the mother’s body.
A warm oil massage can be performed by applying sesame oil to the arms and legs in the direction of the heart, while circles are used to massage the belly and face.
The practice can take place at bedtime followed by a hot shower either immediately or in the morning.
This practice nourishes the body, soothes the mind, and lubricates the joints.
Conclusion: Ayurvedic wisdom for Postpartum Care
The wisdom of postpartum Ayurvedic practices encompasses the whole person: physical, mental and spiritual aspects of healing. The alignment of all three leads to balanced energy and optimal healing for the mother and maximal nourishment for the baby.
The consistent practice of yoga, self body massage and healing foods is effective in improving energy, mood, weight loss and stress reduction.
Give it a try, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Ramaholimihaso T, Bouazzaoui F, Kaladjian A. Curcumin in Depression: Potential Mechanisms of Action and Current Evidence-A Narrative Review. Front Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 27;11:572533. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.572533. PMID: 33329109; PMCID: PMC7728608.
Kumar, Anil & Naik, Satya. (2018). Ghee: Its Properties, Importance and Health Benefits.
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