According to Ayurveda, the process of child birth occurs due to the presence of Vata. There will be an increase in Vata post-delivery. The increased Vata can disturb the physical, mental and emotional well being of a new mom. As the first step of Ayurvedic postnatal care, it’s important to bring the Vata in to balance.
Caring for the mother after birth is important because a new life coming into the world is the outcome of a lot of emotional and physical changes.
Traditional Ayurvedic postnatal care practices concentrate on nourishing, oil and ghee-based warm foods, abhyanga or Ayurvedic massage and hot water bath. This routine helps the mother in regaining her lost strength.
Ayurvedic Postnatal Care: Diet And Nutrition
In the Ashtanga Sangraha by Vagbhata it is stated that “A child should not be fed with the breast milk of the woman who is hungry, grief stricken, tired, exhausted, angry, whose tissues are diseased, who is pregnant, or who is indulging in unhealthy foods”.
A mother’s diet is an important factor to ensure the health and well being of the child. Follow these dietary suggestions for your Ayurvedic postnatal care routine.
- Include short frequent meals. In Indian tradition parboiled rice is preferred since it easily gets digested. Avoid food items that provoke Vata like potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils like toor dal, channa dal, brinjal and broccoli.
- Iron rich leaves like drumstick leaves, curry leaves and bean varieties can be used in the diet since they promote and support wound healing.
- Spices like ginger, turmeric and pepper should be used on a daily basis. Chili powder and too much spicy things should be avoided. These may create a burning sensation and discomfort to the baby who is feeding on breast milk.
The purpose of a postnatal diet is to nourish all the dhathus (tissues) of the mother. They may have become depleted during the course of child birth. The diet should also ensure that breast milk has enough nutrients for the baby. The food should be predominant in madhura rasa (sweet taste) and should be Kapha promoting.
Milk infused with galactagogues are advised during the initial days. Also, decoctions prepared with Vata balancing herbs like dashamoola are administered.
The first week post-delivery concentrates on Vata balancing with the intake of ghee, oil massage and parboiled rice.
Postnatal Care For The Skin: Abhyanga
The Ashtanga Samgraha of Vagbhatta says that ‘an abhyanga with a special herb infused oil should be done every day’. Medicated oil prepared with herbs like Bala, Chandana, Kushta, Ashwagandha, Eranda, Tila and other herbs is ideal for massage.
In most postnatal situations, preparing oil at home is a difficult task. Seek out a practitioner’s advice on the use of oils like Balashwagandhadi thaila, Ksheerabala thaila or Bala thaila. These strengthen the lower back, bones, ligaments and muscles.
Water for bathing should be heated and then allowed to cool down a wee bit before being used. Ancient Ayurveda says to boil the water with Jivaniya group of herbs (restorative and vitalizing herbs) like Mahameda and Kakoli. Generally herbal bath powders and the application of turmeric over the skin is performed to retain the lost glow post pregnancy.
Pregnancy Glow: A Modern Perspective
Pregnancy glow is real. During pregnancy there is increased blood volume in the body. Also, the production of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) helps in creating pregnancy glow. Progesterone makes your skin smoother and softer.
Pregnancy glow is one of the skin changes caused by the fluctuation of hormones during pregnancy.
The stress, hormonal changes and tiredness that come with being a new parent can take a toll on your skin.
You might also experience the following skin problems.
Stretch marks are due to the sudden gain and subsequent loss in weight. Many parts of the body will have stretch marks after pregnancy, many of which are more visible in the stomach region. Initially they will be reddish-pink in color, but eventually they diminish and become lighter.
The dark patches that develop on the facial skin are called melasma or chloasma. This black pigmentation occurs due to the high level of pregnancy hormones. With the decrease in hormones post pregnancy, they may become less obvious. Some may stay and might increase with exposure to sunlight.
High progesterone levels post pregnancy can cause pimples to break out. Acne is a common skin problem after pregnancy.
Acne, stretch marks, pigmentation and skin discoloration after delivery are some of the most common changes in the skin that have been observed post pregnancy.
Tackling post-partum skin problems requires time and effort. Certain diet and lifestyle changes can work wonders along with suitable herbs.
Ayurvedic Postnatal Care For The Skin
Stay hydrated. Drink enough water during the day. This can also help to keep the hormones in check.
In order to bring back the healthy texture of the skin, cleanse your skin often. Wash with besan or check pea flour or green gram powder three or four times a day.
Sleep at regular times, even though it’s hard with a new born. Still try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep in a day. This will reduce the puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes.
Exfoliate the skin once or twice a week. You can use a gentle organic exfoliator or use a combination of honey and turmeric.
When it comes to food, include plenty of green leafy vegetables which can help in bringing back the glow and texture of the skin due to their high iron content.
Eat freshly prepared, warm food. Include spices like cumin, peppercorns, turmeric, and asafetida in the diet. The reason for using these spices is that they help in improving the digestive power.
Fumigation or dhoopana after bathing can help prevent catching a cold. Anjana (application of collyrium) to the eyes is also practiced. Wear light clothes and fragnant substances on the body.
After the first week, the use of an abdomen belt with moderate pressure can be used. Ayurveda has a special belly wrapping technique. A long piece of fine cotton cloth is wrapped around the abdomen a few times and pulled snug without tightening too much. Make sure you can sit and breathe comfortable.
This helps to strengthen the back and restore the muscles and organs back to their original position. Rigorous activities are contraindicated during the first month of Ayurvedic postnatal care.
Ayurvedic Postnatal Formulas For Mom
Please note, Ayurvedic medicines are advised only after consultation with your physician.
Dashamoolarishtam is useful in various health conditions such as cough, asthma, abdominal diseases, frequent urination, loss of appetite and jaundice. It is also given to women after delivery to prevent diseases and to revert the uterus back to its natural shape and size.
It decreases chances of fever and infections. It helps to relieve pain and inflammation and keeps the Vata dosha in check.
This Ayurvedic formula acts mainly on the digestive system. It reduces gas formation, flatulence, bloating and improves appetite and digestive capacity.
Shatavari possesses cooling, calming properties that can help to soothe and balance Vata and Pitta doshas. Often used to enhance reproductive and digestive health, shatavari is also said to have rejuvenating and nourishing effects.
Fennel seeds are used for improving digestion and to enhance milk production.
There are so many recipes with fenugreek. Fenugreek is advised for nursing mothers for improved milk flow and proper digestion.