A new mother feels exhausted and tired after childbirth. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the choices made during the initial 42 days following childbirth plays a vital role in maintaining the health of a mother. Ayurveda suggests 6 weeks of rest after child birth, during which new mothers can turn to natural ingredients and herbs which heals the postpartum body. Healthy and freshly cooked meals, herbal oil massage, and a clean, positive environment can go a long way in helping a new mother.
Ayurvedic experts suggest the use of herbs and oils to heal and protect a mother’s body post pregnancy. These oils also help by relieving stress and ensure a smooth start to motherhood. Here are some herbs, and some essential diet and lifestyle measures that a new mother can follow to make motherhood a happy and relaxing journey. As always ensure that you check with your doctor before taking any herbs while nursing.
- Fenugreek seeds can be soaked in water overnight. Drink this water the next morning. It is believed to support lactation. It is also beneficial in lowering the back discomfort that accompanies pregnancy, and helps in dealing with aggravated vata.
- Water boiled with cumin, coriander, fennel, dill, vakumba can do a lot of good. These herbs are digestive aids and fennel and dill supports lactation. Vakumba helps cleanse the liver and rekindles the digestive fire, agni. Drink this water through the day.
- Make a small ladoo (a ball of herbs and sweets) by including herbal powders such as Ashwagandha powder, Shatavari Powder, Ginger powder, Pipali powder, saffron, cardamom powder and nirgundi powder. All these herbs are helpful in kindling agni and when combined with whole wheat flour, ghee, almonds, raisins and coconut, you can enjoy one ladoo a day for better health.
- A small ball made of ginger powder, turmeric powder, jaggery and ghee helps support healing and kindles the agni or digestive fire. It is usually had as first thing in the morning after the fenugreek water.
- Shatavari has estrogenic quality and helps the reproductive system and uterus in getting back to shape quickly, while Dashmool is a ten root formula that supports cell rejuvenation. Hence, they can be included as part of postpartum care.
Bala – Massaging your body with Bala thailam (Bala herbal oil) helps in better flexibility and toning of muscles. It also strengthens muscles and repairs dry skin, resulting in quicker postpartum recovery. Most other ayurvedic massage oils also have Bala as their main ingredient.
Ashwagandha: It rejuvenates the body and promotes physical and mental health. Ashwagandha works best in strengthening and firming the skin, and improves muscle and joint strength.
Manjistha: It has antioxidant properties, and a massage with this oil helps in gaining clear skin, free off blemishes. It relieves all skin-related issues and inflammation.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera is antimicrobial and naturally soothing. It moisturises and helps heal rashes. It soothes irritable skin caused during pregnancy and is a great remedy for stretch marks.
Sesame oil: This oil is beneficial particularly due to its skin-firming properties. Sesame oil moisturises and prevents infections too.
Ayurveda shows a strong link between a mother and baby. Therefore, the food that mother consumes affects the mood of the baby. The emotional and mental state of the mother is also seen on the baby. Following child birth, the digestive fire of the mother is weakened, and it needs rekindling and nurturing. Ayurveda focuses on foods that are vata-pacifying, foods that are warm, oily, to bring vata back into balance. This is because a new mother may undergo some vata related disorders such as dryness, flatulence, indigestion, anxiety and lack of sleep.
Ayurveda suggests that new mothers should only take warm, freshly cooked food. This is because fresh meals have more prana or life force in them, and they are most nutritious. Such nourishment is necessary for a joyful, speedy recovery, and well-rested baby. Eating leftovers should be avoided.
Rice, warm vegetable soup, milk, ghee and garlic are part of vata-pacifying diet. Vegetables such as carrots, green beans, beets can be included in food, while veggies that product gas such as potato, okra and cauliflower should be avoided. Foods such as fenugreek leaves and green leafy vegetables are included for lactation.
Anything out of refrigerator should be avoided, and warm water, porridge and oats are recommended. Nuts and dried fruits should be soaked overnight before consuming for easy digestion.
Tips for postpartum care
- Stay in a clean, peaceful environment.
- Warm oil massages can keep you fresh and relaxed.
- Eat only warm, freshly cooked and easily digestible food.
- Ensure that you use necessary herbs and spices as per the advice of an Ayurvedic practitioner for improved lactation, sleep and good digestion.
- Garlic is great for postpartum care. It can be roasted with ghee until browned and added to food. It supports digestion, immunity and nervous system, apart from keeping infections away.
- Rest is vital post pregnancy to recover completely. Also, support from partner and loved ones at home are crucial to keep the mother and baby happy.
Ayurveda adopts a balanced approach to pastpartum care by way of food, nutritional consultation, massage and family support, thereby initiating a healthy start to this crucial transition in your life.