Pregnancy and childbirth are a special time in any woman’s life. Ayurveda prescribes some set of guidelines which can help make this time more enjoyable and easy for the woman. It looks at ahara [nutrition], vihara [lifestyle] and vichara [thought process] which women could follow during the different stages of pregnancy.
Eat food that is mild, easy to digest and maintain regular meal timings. It is better to avoid spicy foods, sexual intercourse, heavy exercises, attempts to loose weight, negative emotions, difficult postures like balancing on one leg or squatting and exposure to unhappy or violent news or events.
Here are some general guidelines for the wellbeing of the mother and foetus:
- Do not tie a tight knot over the abdomen.
- Do not use heavy blankets or place them over the abdomen.
- Do not change your sleeping position from left side to right side or vice-versa without getting up.
- Keep both thighs together while sitting.
- Sleep sideways instead of sleeping on the back.
Month-wise regime [during pregnancy]
A pregnant woman should take natural supplements like draksha, khajoor, manooka, and vidari with milk [cold/room temperature] in the morning.
For the first 12 days, have ghee [prepared from cow’s milk] boiled with leaves of saliparni herb. If you can then have this preparation in a vessel precious metals like gold or silver. After that, have water that is boiled and cooled. Your breakfast should comprise sweet, cold and semi-solid foods.
Women tend to start taking a massage or reverse massage from this month. However, massages are to be avoided till the fifth month.
Have milk mixed with the above-mentioned natural supplements.
Have the same sweet natural supplements, but now mix them with milk, honey and ghee.
Continue taking the same sweet supplements with milk. This time replace ghee with butter [12 – 15g of makkhan] made from milk.
Continue the supplement regime of the fourth month. Oil application and gentle massage followed by a bath with lukewarm water is recommended. Continue this till the end of your pregnancy.
Continue the supplement regime of the fifth month.
Mothers-to-be may feel an itchy sensation on the breast and abdomen or a burning sensation in the chest or throat.
Eat food in smaller quantities, frequently, and a bite of sweet something with little ghee or oil that is easy to digest. Ensure that your salt intake during this period is reduced to a minimum. Also, avoid drinking water immediately after a meal.
Eat rice prepared with milk in semi-solid or liquid form with ghee.
Follow the same diet as in the eighth month.
Apply oil on the abdomen and genital areas. Take an oil enema in small quantities to help ease false labour pains. Wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, you need a lot of emotional support along with physical care. Any emotion that you feel with affect the growth of your foetus. Try to not hold on to negative feelings such as sorrow, grief, anger, fear and doubt. These hamper the mental and physical growth of the foetus. So, try to stay as happy as you can by exposing yourself to happy circumstances, people and things. And surround yourself with close friends and relatives who support and care for you during this special time of your life.
As far as physical care is concerned, refrain from sitting on hard surfaces, sitting for long hours, travelling, lifting heavy weights, walking long distances—doing any tedious activity. These put the foetus at risk. Also avoid staying up too late or sleeping during daytime.
You must be in touch with your own body and learn to monitor even minor changes. Though all signals may not mean trouble, there are some signs that require calling the doctor. Some of these warning signals are:
- Contractions or cramps—more than five in one hour
- Bright red blood from your vagina
- Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands
- Pain during urination [possible urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection]
- Sharp or prolonged pain in your stomach [pre-eclampsia signs]
- Acute or continuous vomiting [pre-eclampsia signs]
- Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina
- Low, dull backache
- Intense pelvic pressure.
A developing baby needs calcium to have strong bones, teeth, heart, nerves and muscles, and to develop a normal heart rhythm. It plays an important role in developing a good blood clotting mechanism. If a pregnant woman does not get enough calcium from her diet, the growing baby takes it from her bones, which may impair the mother’s health. A pregnant woman’s need for calcium goes up in the third trimester, when the baby’s skeleton is rapidly developing. Although pregnant women may consume more dairy products like milk and yoghurt, they often do not meet their calcium needs through food sources alone. Hence, it is advised that before, during, and after pregnancy, women should take calcium supplements [after consulting their gynaecologist]. In addition, they should have at least 2–3 servings calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, raisins, soybeans, dates, guava and oranges every day. This is in addition to having all the other nutritious foods which will provide all round nutrition to the mother and baby.