Pregnancy is a miraculous time in a woman’s life. Not only is she growing a whole new person, she’s also learning more about herself as she goes through the changes associated with this period. Luckily, Ayurvedic wisdom stemming back over 5,000 years has given us some helpful tips for how to use Ayurveda during pregnancy to ease the stress on soon-to-be mothers and help them embrace the journey.
While pregnancy is supposed to be seen as a joy, for many women it can be a struggle to adjust to the new changes they are going through and to feel like they are doing enough to promote the health and wellbeing of their baby.
Emotional Health During Pregnancy
Since Ayurveda is a holistic practice (meaning it takes into account the health of the whole person, including physical, mental and spiritual) it’s important to start with the emotional health of the mother during pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how strictly you stick to your diet or follow your daily routine — if you are emotionally exhausted or overstressed, your pregnancy could still be a struggle.
According to Ayurvedic wisdom, pregnancy is associated with elevated levels of Vata energy in the body being directed toward the baby. If the mother has balanced doshas to begin with, there will be enough Vata for both mother and baby. However, if the mother’s doshas are unbalanced, she may experience depression or other symptoms associated with a lack of Vata, especially during the first trimester.
To balance this, pregnant women should focus on grounding, positive activities. Routines like self-massage and meditation should be savored. These activities will not only help you calm yourself during times of stress, they will also help you focus on the wonder of pregnancy itself and the incredible ability of your body to bring a new life into the universe.
Additionally, Ayurveda believes that during pregnancy, everything experienced by the mother also affects her baby. Things like stress at work, violence on television or even just hormonal ups and downs will impact your child (sometimes for life, according to Ayurvedic teachers). While there’s nothing more stressful than consciously trying not to be stressed out, it’s important to prioritize moments of positivity and calm, and return to people, activities and hobbies that bring you joy, as these will greatly benefit your child.
Physical Health During Pregnancy
Beyond managing the emotional ups and downs during pregnancy, Ayurveda also prescribes a variety of changes to the daily diet and exercise of pregnant women.
Since Vata plays a huge role during pregnancy, pregnant women are encouraged to follow a primarily sattvic diet (meaning “fresh” or “pure” in Sanskrit). This will include foods like fresh, organic vegetables and sprouted grains. Healthy fats and oils are also highly encouraged, as these are warm, grounding foods that help the body better absorb Ayurvedic herbs; fats and oils are also a key component in the healthy development of the brain and other vital organs in the fetus.
One of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments during pregnancy is a simple daily tincture of a teaspoon of organic milk mixed with a teaspoon of ghee to help with the intake of healthy fats.
Another important factor to consider is that the digestive fire, Agni, is often weakened or unstable during pregnancy. This contributes to the common symptoms of nausea or lack of appetite that many women experience during their pregnancy. To combat this, Ayurvedic guidelines suggest a few possible approaches:
- Sip tea made with a quarter-teaspoon of ginger powder and hot water
- Roast cardamom seeds, powder them and eat a few pinches throughout the day
- Snack on crackers or plain toast, as nausea is usually lessened when there’s food in the stomach
- Try sleeping in a reclined position instead of flat on your back
Finally, when it comes to exercise during pregnancy, Ayurveda advocates for easy, laid back activities. A short daily walk is generally considered beneficial, as is a soothing prenatal yoga class. Strenuous exercises like running, weight training or other vigorous activity should be avoided for the safety of mother and child (though you should consult a doctor or your own Ayurvedic physician to get recommendations specific to your needs).
Enjoy the Pregnancy Journey
If Ayurveda teaches us one thing, it’s that we are all connected through thousands of years of human experience. Women have given birth for millennia, and the ancient practices of Ayurveda remind us of that, while giving us tools to enjoy this unique period in life.
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Author: Alexandria Baker (YouVeda’s Wellness Contributor)