Yay! You, your friend or family member is pregnant! Congratulations. I have written this guide and am here to assist you through this exciting (and sometimes scary) period of transition and growth.
According to Ayurveda, pregnancy and delivery can be the most rejuvenating experience of a women’s life, during which every cell of the mother’s body can be transformed. Unfortunately, in the west we did not get that knowledge and mothers often pay dearly with health concerns after a pregnancy.
During pregnancy, everything that the mother-to-be touches, smells, tastes, hears and sees has an imprinting influence on the foetus. Her actions not only form various health and physiological features of the future baby, but blueprint and dwell with the unborn human for their whole life which influences their health, even through old age.
That being said, this is a time for the pregnant lady to relax, retreat and do what she desires. There should be minimal restrictions and rules (these are below). She should be treated like a queen (fellas, I know you always do) and follow her desires with little friction.
Guidelines for Throughout the Whole Pregnancy
Flood your Life with Sattva
Everything the mum-to-be does should be sattvic for both the mother and child. Sattva is a quality in us that translates to “purity.” If Sattva is increased, then so is our inner stillness, clarity of mind and contentment. Love radiates and flows in abundance, while the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “bonding/loving hormone”) is simultaneously secreting.
Recommendations to enhance sattva in her mind, body and spirit:
- Fresh, seasonal whole-foods cooked with love is sattvic food.
- Create a nourishing and calm environment in your home and avoid stimulating and toxic (rajasic) environments like loud music and polluted air.
- Surround yourself with loving, like-minded people and avoid toxic relationships and people who stress you out.
Self-Oil-Massage - It is always better for the soon-to-be-mum to do self-massage rather than getting by a practitioner. If receiving a massage from a practitioner, it should be a very, very light abhyanga, without touching the belly.
Daily Meditation - The key to a healthy pregnancy and happy mother and baby. The foetus also absorbs her peaceful and alert attitude. Vedic meditation is recommended.
Reduce EMF (Electro-Magnetic-Field) Exposure
Wireless devices emit signals (EMF) that communicate with our mitochondria and cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which is a birth for many diseases. It also generates free radicals, dehydrates our body and thrashes our adrenal stress index. You definitely don’t want to expose your vulnerable foetus to EMFs. Mainstream medicine already knows this by restricting x-rays etc., but has not yet realised the danger of wireless devices like mobile phones, laptops, wifi etc.
Ways to Reduce EMF
- Turn your wifi, smart TVs, mobile phone off at night and when you are not using them.
- Whenever your mobile phone is near your body, keep it on aeroplane mode.
- Avoid high density EMF environments that are like being in a microwave. Offices for example.
- Purchase Belly Armour - a comfy shielding material to wear when your out and about.
Unnecessary excess radiation. Studies show they do not improve birth outcomes. Get one mid-pregnancy, at 22 weeks to check body parts.
Studies showed flight attendants had a double chance of miscarriages because of the dense radiation exposure. What more is flying is probably the number one activity that aggravates vata the most.
Sleep On Your Left Side
Best to not sleep during the day, as proper night time sleep is essential.
Listen to Vedic Chants
Primordial sounds vibrate to the foetus to enliven desired aspects of consciousness. The vedic sounds also increase Sattva in the pregnant lady. Some good chants to listen to are the Bhagavad Gita and Hanuman mantras.
The major theme during pregnancy is to balance vata, the energy of the nervous system. This is because the growth of the foetus and the process of giving birth is governed by Apana-Vata, the downward moving Sub-dosha of Vata. In cases of stress and tiredness, the upward-moving vata – called prana vata – has to step in and is redirected downward to support the needs of the baby. Lack of prana means lack of joyful feelings of pregnancy, which can leave the mum exhausted, depleted, tired and even depressed postpartum.
The key to balance vata is:
- Warmth (warm, cooked, nourishing foods, warm climate)
- Regularity (regular sleep times, meal times, meditation, regular bowel motions etc.)
- Rest - As much as possible. Times are designated to carry out work, travel or anything that requires strain (5th an 6th month).
All the recommendations in this article balance vata.
All 3 of your doshas are aggravated by the significant transition of pregnancy.
Correcting imbalances while pregnant is much easier than once the child is born! Of course it would be ideal if the woman could balance the doshas before conception.
DIET and HERBS
Foods to Avoid Throughout the Whole Pregnancy
- Papaya - Excess downward movement (Vata anulomana) and to much heat.
- Pineapple - Certain enzymes which cause miscarriage and to much heat.
- Undercooked meat (beef and pork) - A risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, parasitic disease that can infect the baby and produce many symptoms that vary from premature delivery and low birth weight, to malformations and mental retardation.
- Raw and undercooked foods, especially leafy greens, beans and lentils.
- Raw Fish and Seafood - includes sushi and all shellfish. Some bacteria like listeria and some parasites like anisakis can be found in contaminated seafood; they produce an intestinal infection, which can lead to dehydration. Fever and dehydration during pregnancy can be linked to abortion or preterm birth.
- Seafood High in Mercury - The bigger and older the fish, the more likely that it’s contaminated with mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages pregnant women to avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, pregnant women should exceed two seafood meals per week.
- Raw Eggs - Can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, especially salmonella, which can produce a severe intestinal infection that leads to high fever and dehydration, which can be harmful for the baby. Avoid all products that may contain raw eggs, such as homemade dressings, mayonnaise, and eggnog.
- Caffeine - you should not exceed 200 mg per day. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it may increase your heart rate and your blood pressure, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy. It crosses the placenta to your baby, increasing its heart rate as well. This has been linked to prematurity, miscarriage, and low birth weight. A cup of coffee may contain anywhere from 150 to 400 mg of caffeine, depending on the type and brew.
- Hot spicy foods.
- Artificial flavours, preservatives and chemical additives.
- Left-overs - Opposite to sattvic food (tamasic).
- Excess honey - To heating.
- Shodana Vati / Triphala / Laxatives - Laxative herbs that cause vata anulomana should strictly be avoided in the first trimester, and also avoided for the rest of pregnancy.
Foods to Avoid Part of the Pregnancy
- Hing (Asafoetida) - Avoid in first trimester. Vata anulomana and sharp quality, breaks stagnation. Also no external application.
- Turmeric - For the first 6 months. For those sensitive like older pregnant ladies and those prone to miscarriages.
Other than the foods to avoid, don’t restrict yourself to much and honour cravings.
Remember, you are eating for two body types, so you should not follow a strict diet for one body type. Honour your unique cravings in moderation, especially from the fourth month when the cravings you experience are more likely those of the baby.
- Sweet taste - It is the most sattvic or wholesome for the baby. Dates, fresh breads cooked without oils, whole grains, rice, fruits, quinoa, cooked beetroot, carrot, sweet potato, hot milk, porridge.
- Ghee, coconut oil.
- Hot milk - one of the most nourishing, immunity boosting and ojas building foods.
- Almonds soaked overnight then peeled the following day.
Tips to Help with Constipation during Pregnancy
It is important to have daily morning bowel motions during pregnancy.
- Eat citrus fruits like oranges and mandarins.
- Lots of cooked leafy greens.
- Psyllium husk is okay after first trimester, but consult a good practitioner regarding psyllium.
Morning sickness happens because the foreign body (foetus) changes the hormones and system. Some people are not compatible with this.
This does not mean you are unhealthy, in fact, it is traditionally believed morning sickness makes a baby more stronger and helps it survive.
- Madiphal rasayana - A fruity liquid Ayurvedic preparation that you take a small sip of whenever nausea is there. (Pictured, available at Vital Veda).
- Citrus fruits like lime.
- Honey + ginger.
- Cut the skin of unripe green lemon with your finger nail and sniff it.
Month-By-Month Pregnancy Insight
First Trimester: Extra Careful
This month is the riskiest for miscarriage. Therefore follow all the rules and diet advice more strictly including lots of rest and avoiding stress, work, travel and sex.
Keep it a secret - Mainly for those who are first time pregnant or have been unsuccessful with conceiving or miscarriages. Ayurveda recommends this to avoid bad energy from external people, known as Dristi Dosha (“Bad Eye”).
Prop the foot end of your bed up 8cm to that you are on a slight tilt towards your head. This helps prevent miscarriage.
4th Month: Dhauhrda (“Two Hearts”)
According to Ayurveda, in the fourth month the foetus’s heart is endowed with consciousness and the senses are said to develop.
This month is known as “Dhauhrda,” which means two hearts. This is because through the arteries, the heart of the foetus is connected with that of the mother. Thus, through these vessels (dhamanis), the feelings of the foetus is transferred to the mother. The mother may feel unusual desires during this period, which are probably the desires of the child. It is advisable to give a pregnant woman what ever she desires.
During this month the women should never sleep during the day as proper night sleep is essential.
5th and 6th Month: Lenient Time
If you have to work or have sex, this is the time. During sex woman should be on their back only and do not strain abdomen.
7th Month: Nearly there
This month is in maintenance mode for a meticulous part of the pregnancy: the 8th month.
8th Month: Vital Time for Increased Rest
The 8th month is very delicate where the subtle nutrient fluid called “Ojas” that supports vitality and immunity is transferred from mother to foetus. Thus, you need to get as much rest as possible and avoid what you are meant to avoid and enhance sattva.
9th Month: It's Coming!
Sukha Prasava Ghritam ("Easy to Deliver Ghee") - A medicated ghee to help prepare the body for birth and the quicken the delivery and make it smoother.
Dose: 2tsp 2x/day before meals or with hot milk. Available from Vital Veda.
Research studies have concluded that an easy birth is high dependant on a relaxed mind. Thus, surrendering the process of labour is key to a quick birth, as well as meditation.
How to bring on labour (if not coming)
- Abdominal massage - Using a medicated ghee called “Sukha Prasava Ghritam” or normal ghee (inferior), apply the ghee on the stomach and massage slowly and lightly in a clockwise direction downward towards the vagina.
- Ensure you are taking Sukha Prasava Ghritam (“easy to deliver ghee”).
- Eat more cumin and leafy vegetables.
Postpartum, after the baby has exited the womb, is perhaps the most important time to implement Ayurvedic interventions and practices to rejuvenate mum and ensure proper nutrient and immune accumulation for the baby.