Motherhood is a celebration of life and love! Nurturing of a piece of flesh into a full grown baby and later into a responsible, honest and intelligent human being is the biggest challenge a woman faces in her life.
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Then again, it is also the most beautiful thing in her life. Since motherhood is the basis of family life, if a woman is taken care of as advised, she will give birth to a child who is healthy, physically nourished, radiant and well-nourished baby.
Ayurveda and pregnancy
As per Ayurveda, when the male and female seeds unite, and the soul enters the union it becomes an embryo (garbha). The woman is the soil which provides nutrition and right season for the seed (embryo) to grow; hence Ayurveda advises special attention to be paid towards the nutrition and protection of the woman.
The general management of pregnancy is described under ‘Garbhini Vyakaran.’ This refers to the general management, special management, diseases in pregnancy and their treatment and such other related factors. The aim of the Ayurveda physician is to nourish and protect both the mother and the embryo.
The approach of Ayurveda towards management of pregnancy is:
- Lifestyle followed by the pregnant woman
- The special diet taken during pregnancy
- Special regimens prescribed for the pregnant lady under each trimester
- Treatment of diseases during pregnancy
- Antenatal counseling
Herbs good in pregnancy
Herbs that are considered useful in pregnancy should be used in moderation and always under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.
Some herbs should not be used during first three months of pregnancy. Wild foods and organically grown herbs are the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Some herbal tonics useful during pregnancy are raspberry leaves, nettle leaves, and ginger. Some herbs useful during pregnancy are;
- Red raspberry leaves: It is brewed as a tea or an infusion, and contains a chemical which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region including the uterus. It is a rich source of Vitamin C, E and easily assimilated calcium and iron. They also contain small quantities of Vitamin A and B complex and some minerals. This should be taken only in the last 8 weeks of pregnancy as it may induce premature labor.
- Nettle leaves: it is used as one of the finest nourishing tonic. It contains Vitamins A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and Sulphur. The infusion of nettle leaves is used as the tonic.
- Chamomile: Taken as tea, it can help in bloating, constipation and flatulence. Taken in early labor, it can also help calm nerves. More than two cups of chamomile tea should not be taken in a day.
- Coriander: It is an herb that helps in preparing the mother’s body for labor. Three or four sprigs can be eaten in a day in salad or tea made with the use of coriander seeds.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinalis): It can be taken as ale, paste, tea and is considered very helpful in morning sickness.
- Mint or other plants of the menthe family are also considered very helpful during pregnancy.
- Cramp bark: A decoction or tincture of this herb is useful in helping with painful contractions during labor as it has antispasmodic and sedative properties.
- Garlic: It is an all-purpose herbal remedy. It will help in keeping your blood pressure stable, boost your immune system, lower the risk of blood clots, and help in the growth of placenta and developing baby, and aid in healthy circulation.
Herbal home remedies for pregnancy ailments
Herbal home remedies useful for the treatment of morning sickness which is one of the most common ailments of pregnancy:
A paste, ale or tea of ginger can relieve symptoms of morning sickness.
Sniffing at the juice or the peel of a lemon is efficient in controlling the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Mint, peppermint or spearmint oil can be used to relieve morning sickness.
Freshly grated ginger added to a stir-fry can boost circulation.
Wrap the boiled, cooled cabbage leaves around swollen ankles to ease swelling and cover swollen breasts with cool, cooked cabbage leaves to alleviate the pain. Cabbage is known to reduce water retention.
Rose oil used in aromatic bathing has a calming effect.
Patchouli oil helps to reduce water retention, treat swollen ankles and relieve constipation.
Vapors of lavender help in cooling, balancing and calming. It also relieves muscular tension and overcomes exhaustion of used in gentle massages.
Geranium oil also relieves fluid retention, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Mandarin oil helps in overcoming morning sickness and relieves flatulence.
Neroli oil is sued to reduce stretch marks.
Chamomile oil is sued to relieve insomnia.
The stretching of abdominal skin can be helped by sipping infusions of berries or butter medicated with manjishtha.
Application of pulp of sandalwood and lotus or a paste made of neem, basil and manjishtha gives relief from itchings and striations due to stretching of abdominal skin.
Ayurvedic diet for pregnancy
Ayurvedic diet prescribed for pregnant women under the Garbhini Parichaya is the most nutritious diet. The recommended Ayurvedic diet i.e. Satvik diet or food must be taken three months before conception. The diet should consist of fresh fruits (peach, mangoes, pears and coconut), vegetables (sweet potato, parsley, sprouts and squash), rice, kidney and lime beans, chicken and fish in moderate quantity. Rice must be mixed with milk or ghee and eaten in semi-solid form.
Ayurvedic diet during pregnancy must have Vitamin C in its constitution (carrots, tomatoes, oranges etc.).
During the first trimester of pregnancy, stress is on the stabilization of the pregnancy and the embryo gets nourishment directly through the process of percolation. Hence, the diet should comprise of more fluid foods such as juicy fruits, coconut water, and milk and so on.
In the first month sipping of cold milk and maintaining a low diet is required. In the next two months intake of milk medicated with herbs like shatavari, yashtimadhu, brahmi is advised. Ghee and honey should also be taken.
Dates, almonds, figs, grapes, dry fruits are also important for sustenance of fetus.
From the fourth to the seventh month, diet should be comprised of rice, milk, butter and ghee. Fruits such as mangoes, carrots, amlaki, apple should be taken along with leafy vegetables.
From the seventh month onwards, diet should be low in fat and have less salt and less water. The diet should be enriched with wheat, rye, oats, sprouts, beans, lentils, whole meal bread, soy beans and dried peas.
A mother to be who always stays happy and spends her impending motherhood following the Ayurvedic protocol for pregnant life will always nurture and give birth to a healthy, well-nourished and radiant baby.
- Girija PLt. Diet and regimen during pregnancy. Ancient sciences of life. 2008; 28(1): 40-43.
- Ananda S. Yoga: for easier pregnancy and natural childbirth. Orient Paperbacks, 2005; 119.