Ayurvedic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

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.

Learn how to do Self-Oil-Massage here

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.  

Reduce Ultrasounds

Unnecessary excess radiation. Studies show they do not improve birth outcomes. Get one mid-pregnancy, at 22 weeks to check body parts.

 

Reduce Aeroplanes

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.

Balance Vata

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:

  1. Warmth (warm, cooked, nourishing foods, warm climate)
  2. Regularity (regular sleep times, meal times, meditation, regular bowel motions etc.)
  3. 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. 
  • Raisins

Indicated Diet

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.
  • Kitchari
  • 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.
  • Pomegranate.
  • Lots of cooked leafy greens.
  • Psyllium husk is okay after first trimester, but consult a good practitioner regarding psyllium.

Morning Sickness

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.

Nausea Remedies

  • 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 asDhauhrda,” 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 foetus to the mother and back and forth.
This process should not be disturbed as it can leve the baby without Ojas.
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.

Small Nourishing Enemas "Matra Basti" - Can be given every second day for women that are healthy. 25ml before sleep and retain to absorb. This is to reduce the vata, strengthen the system and nourish the foetus with another lubricating fluid that is medicated.
*Quality matra basti oil should only be used such as Vital Veda's/Raju's Special Matra Basti Oil or Deva 21 Oil.

Research studies have concluded that an easy birth is highly dependant on a relaxed mind. Thus, surrendering the process of labour is key to a quick birth, as well as meditation.

Foetus Completely Development:
This month the foetus is endowed with all characters and attains complete development. It can remember it's previous birth (purvajanma) which influences the quality of development.

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.

IT'S HERE!!

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.

See my Ayurvedic Post Natal Care Plan Here

 

 

Ayurvedic Post Natal Care Plan

The initial 40 days+ after delivery is of immense importance. Both mother and the baby need special attention and care. Ayurveda explains in great detail methods for mother care and baby up-bringing at this vital postpartum time which determines the future health of the newly arrived guest. Here is a detailed post natal care plan.

Immediate Vata and Hormonal Imbalance

After birth, the mother’s hormones are usually erratic. Vata, which governs the nervous system and movement (movement of body fluids, neurotransmitters, hormones, blood and lymph circulation, elimination of wastes) in the body immensely increases. This is because all of a sudden after womb evacuation a vacuum of space has manifested (vata is predominately space). 

Mum needs deep rejuvenation & strength to provide the baby with much required immunity, strength, pure and nutritious breast milk and of course, love.

To help mothers achieve optimal physical, metal and emotional health, we have formulated a post-natal care plan that starts after birth and can continue until the baby becomes a young child.

This post-natal care plan is detailed. Choose which aspects you want to implement, but note the essential recommendations.

One can start this post natal care plan at anytime along the journey. 

 

Immediate Post Delivery Procedures

In order after baby exits the womb:

Umbilical Cord Procedure

Leave the cord intact till it stops pulsating or delay the cord clamping.
Most hospitals prematurely cut the umbilical cord. This causes a loss of blood. Cord-blood is especially rich in containing precious Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These stem cells are responsible for maintaining blood production throughout our lives.

Science studies have confirmed the validity of delayed cord-clamping.

One study show that when cord-clamping was delayed for just 5 minutes the blood volume increased by a massive 61% from 78 ml/kg (blood volume at moment of birth) to 126 ml/kg. This placental transfusion amounted to 166 ml for a 3.500 kg infant, one-quarter of which occurred in the first 15 seconds, and one-half within 60 seconds of birth.

So even if you aren't the kind to "Lotus Birth" and wait until the cord naturally drops off, consider delaying cord clamping for at least 5 minutes.

1. Ayurvedic Immunisation Program

Swarna Prasa: Honey, Ghee* and Gold purified ash (swarna bhasma) is prepared and processed in a highly complex method using high-quality ingredients. This is given to the baby after being born to imbue immunity actively through the senses. This immunisation may be continually be administered once a month according to astrology (on pusyami naksatra).

Contact within to order Swarna Prasa.

*Only use ghee if it is very high quality. This is very hard to get so better only mix honey with swarna bhasma.

Learn more here.

2. Breastfeeding

First right breast, then left. Within 1-4 hours or ideally less.

3. Oil Massage

Massage the baby from head to toe with oil. Leave oil on for approx. 45 mins before bath.
Oils used: Vital Veda Baby Abhyanga Oil, cold-pressed extra-virgin coconut or olive oil.
Check out our free Self-Massage Poster to get an idea of how to give baby massage.

4. Bath

Bath (luke warm) and baby abhyanga (oil massage) are the two most important rituals for the baby as they are growing up.

5. Baby Mantra

Parents whisper a mantra (primordial sound) into the baby's ear to induct the baby into the world. This primordial sound is familiar to the baby to ensure "don't worry, you have arrived into a vedic family, you will be enlightened, we will give you knowledge for enlightenment. Relax, you can be a baby now."

Get your baby mantra from a Vedic Meditation teacher.

Optional Gold Ornamentation: Put gold ring on the right ear, then on left and then chant the baby mantra.

6. Wrap Baby

After the baby has finished bath, wrap baby in silk or muslin cloth completely. Especially cover ears. Only expose the eyes and nose.

Holding The Baby

According to the aboriginal culture, similar to the Ayurvedic view,  the newborn is always held close to the mother's heart to promote belonging. This prevents blueprinting anxiety on the child which can occur after taking the baby away from the mother like in some hospital circumstances.
According to aboriginal culture, the newborn stays "glued" to the mother for a few days, and only after then does mum introduce the newborn to the immediate family for it to smell, hear and feel it's intimate family.

Herbal Support

Balant Kadha (Herbal Drink)

A particular fermented herbal preperation (asava) called Balant Kadha is taken once by mum for thirty days to balance the vata, hormones and more. 

This tonic relives weakness, body ache, constipation and cough. Increases appetite, energy, strength and nutritious milk. Tones up blood circulation and helps for the formation of new blood cells.

Time to take: This decoction is ideally taken the day of or the day after giving birth. Even if mum missed that (ie. is reading this article post-delivery), this herb is still highly beneficial and can performs similar action if started up until the baby is 6 months old. This is probably the most important and crucial herb.

Read more about Balant Kadha here.

If still after taking Balant Kadha more Vata reducing is to be done (to be assessed by practitioner or doctor), mum may take 5tsp of Dasmula Arista 2x/day after meals.

Gallakol Lactation Tablets

Increases lactation and purifies breast milk.

This herbal nutritive tonic can be taken by the mother even if breast milk is slightly not 100%, thus good to have on you incase.

Dosage: 2 tabs 2-4x /day before meals or as needed.

Check out our Post Natal Ayurvedic Support Kit

Vital Veda's Post Natal Ayurvedic Support Kit

Post Natal Care (continued)

7. First 11 Days

For next 11 days, no oil massage or oil application. Nor for mother. After the 11th day daily baby-massage is essential. Also for mum.

8. Skin Paste for Baby Girls 

Skin Paste: Channa flour, turmeric + perfumery herbs (sandalwood, rose, usheera). Everyday after massage, before bath. Leave skin paste on for at least for 15-20 mins. To remove toxins and prevent body hair growth. 

9. Clothes

For the first 21 days, new born wears clothes of other babies that have good karma.

10. Intimacy Between Mum and Baby

For 7-13 days, mum and baby should be alone in the room. Only people who are serving and helping can enter. This is to develop a profound intimacy, trust and prevent anxiety.

For the first 40 days, mum and baby continue this and hardly go out of the house. They should remain cocooned and protected in their room. Only people who are very close, who are serving and who have bathed and are pure can visit. 

11. Naming Ceremony

Done on the 21st day (Nama Karana).

12. Piercing Ears

Piece ears on the 21st day, 40th day, 3rd or 5th year for females along with puja.

13. Shaving Head (Mudhana) 

Shave head to improve circulation in the head and to increase hair. Done for both genders before 1 year of age, approximately at 11 months old.

14. Ayurvedic Immunisation (continued)

Once finished the swarna prasayou can administer Raju Pusyami Drops to the baby once a month until young teenage years.

Post-Natal Diet for Mum

  • The two most important foods for mum to balance the vata are ghee and garlic.
  • Garlic - remove inner green sprout and fry in ghee, then use in cooking.
  • Ojas increasing foods like hot milk, dates, coconut, warmed cooked fresh foods.
  • Cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Ajwain seeds if C-section occurred. 

Lactation Increasing Foods

  • Fenugreek, jaggery laddhus, wheat (oats), grapes/grape juice.
  • Fenugreek tea - 2 tsp fenugreek seeds, soak overnight (always soak fenugreek). Next morning boil in 2 cups of water, reduce to half and drink. - Improves child's immunity, quality of breast milk and pancreas. Drink tea 3x a day.

 

Baby Food Introduction

Introducing food to a baby is essential to develop a balanced digestion and diet of the future. We teach how to adjust the tastes provided to prevent digestion disorders, cravings and intolerances from developing. Introduce at 5 months and 5 days or 6 months and 6 days.

Baby food introduction plan coming soon.

C-Section Procedures

  • All similar. Essential to take Balant Kadha. 
  • Hug skin-to-skin contact to regulate breathing, blood sugar, heart rate, and to exchange micro-biome.
  • Vaginal Swab - swab mum’s vagina and place in babies mouth or place on nipples for baby to suck and get micro-biome.
  • Sew up mum while she is doing all these things.
  • Avoid Parisheks for mum.
  • Supplements may be required to replenish vitamins and minerals.

Disclaimer: All these information is just for information. Consult your doctor before trying any of these.

  • For more information and tips pre, during and post pregnancy contact us.
  • These herbs have no known drug interaction.
  • These products and recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

 

Golden Milk Elixir

Just like grandma used to cook up for you with love and foresight. This nightly sleep aid and anabolic tonic holds great wisdom, incorporating one of the most nourishing foods: cows milk, with the intelligence of natures herbs and spices. You’ll sleep like a baby and super charge overnight.

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

This Ayurvedic remedy will reduce your stress to allow you to switch off and gain a more restful and undisturbed sleep.

Supersede the Stress

Insomnia, which can increase the risk of most degenerative diseases(1) is mostly caused by stress. When we are under stress, cortisol levels (stress fighting hormones) do not decrease, rather they keep us revved up throughout the night and we don’t have the energy to calm them back down.

Modern science has once again proved ancient wisdom by showing milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%. The improvements of sleep are remarkable:

  • Promotes deeper sleep (3)
  • Supports more restorative sleep (3)
  • Provides relaxation at the level needed for sleep (4)
  • Calms anxiety (4)
  • Improves numerous stress markers (5)
  • These peptides further support digestion, emotional state, cognitive function and even cardiovascular function. (6)

Interestingly, these peptides in milk activate GABA receptors.(4) Pharmaceutical drugs that are widely used as sedatives for stress, anxiety, and sleep target these same GABA receptors!(7)

Ojas Building

Even if you sleep well, this night-time tonic will not only upgrade your sleep to be more deep and restful, but also build your Ojas.

Ojas (OH-jas) is considered to be the most refined by-product of digestion, said to reside in the heart. Ayurveda considers ojas to be a bio-celestial substance that is our vital essence.

Our vitality, immunity, vigour, skin, sleep, digestion, spirituality and physical strength are all directly influenced by our reserve of ojas.

Ojas builds our inner silence. It Increases the ability to genetically connect with the circadian rhythms allowing the body to resonate with the rhythms and thrive. If your body is under stress, emergency alarm bells will keep ringing (flight or fight response/sympathetic nervous system) disconnecting you from the genetic ability to hear these rhythms.

Building ojas is an art. Yoga, pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, spending time in nature, sleeping at the right times, laughing, showing love and affection and giving to others, spending time being creative, relaxing, and doing things that make you happy all build ojas.

Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season.
Further, there are certain foods and herbs in Ayurveda that are great ojas-builders. These were traditionally blended with warm milk and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder.

 

Ayurveda’s Super Sleep Recipe:

  • Boil 3/4 cup of unhamogensied cows milk + 3/4 cup of water + 2 strands of saffron + 1 chopped date + 3 crushed and peeled almonds. Boil till it reduces to approximately 1 cup or till it fully foams up.
  • After the milk has boiled. Add:
  • 1/4tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2tsp ghee.
  • 1/4 tsp Ashwagandha powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • 1/4 tsp Shatavari powder (optional for more ojas building and calming effect)
  • pinch of Ojo or Samadhi (Raju family herbal preparation)
    (Can modify herbs and spices according to season and body constitution).

Sitr well, then drink and enjoy.

When to Drink It:

  • Have between dinner and sleep - approximately 45-60mins after dinner and 45-60mins before bed.
  • You can even make this your dinner.
  • Drink one cup of the golden milk each night for 3 months to rebuild ojas levels and support sleep patterns.
  • You can also have this in the morning approximately 45 minutes before breakfast or make it your breakfast, (good for people who don’t have an appetite in the morning). It is also a great replacement to coffee.

"But I Don’t Do Dairy"

If you are intolerant to dairy, it is probably indigestion, some weakness and/or your mind getting the better over you by 'accepting' the intolerance. Additionally, most milk is difficult to digest because it is unnecessarily homogenised, pasteurised the wrong way, added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.

However, drink the right milk and correct your agni, and you may find you can slowly introduce this medicinal lactation back into your diet.

Most places you can find milk that is non-homogenised without all these nasty additives. Getting non-pasturised or vat-pasturised, (heated at low temperature for short time), is a bonus, but the main precept is to drink non-homogenised milk. This has become so popular that mainstream supermarkets in Australia and New Zeland are now selling it. Additionally, most health-food stores will have it.

If you are very sensitive to milk, I suggest first correct agni, then slowly introduce dairy by drinking thin Lassi with lunch.

You may substitute substitute coconut or (freshly made) almond milk. Though you won’t get the benefits of the milk peptides, you’ll still have a vehicle for the ojas-building foods and herbs and some calming benefits from the warmth of the milk.

Take this milk to build some resiliency towards the stress that prevents us from sleeping like we should.

It’s tasty, nourishing and a great way to end the day, plus it’ll send you off with the clouds for the night.

References

(1) Occup Med (Lond). 2010
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) J Dairy Sci. 2000 Jun
(4) Ther Umsh. 2009
(5) Eur J Nutr. 2005
(6) Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007
(7) FASEB J. 2001