Ayurvedic view of pregnancy
Ayurveda is an ancient, holistic medication system which aims at overall good health and well-being of an individual with the help of herbal products and diet/lifestyle changes. According to Ayurveda, pregnancy is considered a special and spiritual period in the life of a woman. Ayurvedic texts have highlighted the significance of proper care during pregnancy, in order to ensure the safety and good health of the mother and the baby.
Ayurveda describes certain practices that can supplement the medical care provided to pregnant women by doctors and midwives. These practices, when followed carefully, can ensure a less-complicated delivery and keep the mother and the baby healthy.
In Ayurvedic texts, the general management of pregnancy is covered under the Sanskrit term ‘GarbhiniVyakaran.
How Ayurveda Promoting the Health of Mother and Baby During Pregnancy
Since Ayurveda believes that the power of health and healing lies in a person’s own hands, some Ayurvedic principles can enable women to take care of themselves during the pregnancy period. These principles advise pregnant women to follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle which can keep their body healthy, and thereby ensure the good health of their baby.
Ayurveda helps to promote the health of the mother and baby during pregnancy:
According to Ayurveda, a ‘sattvic’ diet — comprising pure and fresh foods — is very important for pregnant women in order to ensure her own good health and that of the baby. Following a ‘sattvic’ diet means that an expectant mother should eat foods that are properly cooked and easily digestible. She should avoid eating left-over foods and processed foods.
Ayurvedic experts believe that the food eaten by a woman during pregnancy should nourish the ‘dhatus’ (tissues) of her body as well as of the baby. Some of these foods include whole grains, nuts, organic dairy products, beans, fruits, and freshly cooked vegetables. These foods give prana (cosmic life force) to the body and pass Ojas (the subtle nutrient fluid that supports vitality and immunity) between the mother and her baby.
Consumption of healthy fats
Ayurveda emphasizes the consumption of plenty of fats and oils by a pregnant woman because they can balance the ‘Vata’ dosha which is the energy of the nervous system and is dominant during pregnancy. The intake of healthy fats can help her in gaining healthy weight during pregnancy, and can also enable the baby’s brain to develop properly.
Some healthy fats and oils which should be incorporated by pregnant women into their diets include nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, and hazelnuts, along with ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, organic whole milk or other grass-fed dairy products.
Avoid certain foods
Ayurveda recommends that the intake of certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy because they can affect the health of the mother and her baby. The foods to avoid include hot and spicy foods, uncooked beans and lentils, and raw leafy green vegetables. In addition, foods that contain artificial flavors, preservatives and chemical additives should also be avoided in pregnancy.
Eliminating pregnancy stress
Going by Ayurvedic principles, stress linked to pregnancy can affect the unborn baby. Stress can lead to health issues which can result in complications during pregnancy. When a pregnant woman is stressed, her body is unable to break down the food properly, leading to a slowdown in the body functions. Stress can also be emotionally taxing for pregnant women and can have a negative impact on the baby. To address pregnancy stress, a woman should work with her senses of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch, so that stress can be transformed into strength, calmness, and happiness.
To help a pregnant woman deal with stress, several techniques recommended by Ayurveda — including yoga, meditation, concentration exercises, and breathing practices — can have a positive effect on the body and mind. These techniques can prepare and teach a pregnant woman’s mind to cope with labor and childbirth and can promote the good health of the mother and her baby.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman bonds physically and emotionally with her unborn baby. Since the development of the fetus takes place during the nine months of pregnancy, it is essential that a pregnant woman should take proper care of herself, especially during the final stages of pregnancy. Even slight negligence during pregnancy can be life-threatening for the mother and the baby.
Nourishment of body, mind, and spirit through oil massage
Pregnant women should nourish their body, mind, and spirit with the help of regular oil massage. It is a proven fact that the positive experiences of a woman during pregnancy pass on to the baby. Massage with beneficial Ayurvedic oil can relieve stress and fatigue for a woman and is an indication of the passing of love from the woman to her baby. A daily massage can reduce most of the common complaints of women during the period of pregnancy.
Ayurveda believes that ‘staying happy’ is extremely important for a pregnant woman. Since a mother and her unborn baby are connected through a unique bond, the happiness of the mother gets passed to the baby. Women who stay happy during pregnancy generally give birth to healthy babies who have a good birth weight.
The ‘Aahaar,’ ‘Vihaar’ and ‘Vichaar’ principle
As per Ayurvedic texts, a pregnant woman should take special care of her Aahaar(diet), Vihaar(lifestyle) and Vichaar (thoughts). A healthy and balanced diet, disciplined lifestyle and positive thinking can promote the health of a woman during pregnancy, and can also promote to the growth, development and good health of the baby.
The guidelines laid down by Ayurveda for promoting the good health of the mother and the baby must be sincerely followed during pregnancy. Based on all the above-mentioned recommendations in Ayurveda, it can be concluded that a pregnant woman should ideally follow the ‘GarbhaSanskar’ principle. According to this principle, the baby gets good habits, morals, values from the mother before birth — that is, when the baby is in the Garbha (womb). Hence, a woman should stay relaxed and calm during pregnancy and perform spiritual and religious activities to stay healthy and also promote the good health of her baby.
Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an Expert Ayurveda Consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. He researched age old formulas from ancient Ayurvedic text books to restore health and save human beings from the worst side-effects of chemical-based treatments.