Ayurveda- for a safe & healthy motherhood
Ayurveda mainly talks about how to have healthy pregnancy, a healthy delivery and a healthy postpartum care including care for the child.
“Evam kurvati hi arogya-bala-varna-samvahana-sampadam upetam jnatinam shreshtam apatyam janayati”- Charaka Samhita
If a pregnant woman is taken care of as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases – a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well nourished baby. He will be superior to all in the race.
Pre-conceptional Planning as told in Ayurveda
This great science compares conception to the germination and sprouting of a seed and its transformation into a sapling. When the male and female seeds unite and the soul enters the union, it becomes an embryo (garbha). Ayurveda gives importance to the quality of the seed and hence, to the development during adolescence, of both the male and the female. In addition to the female seed, the mother also provides the ‘soil, nutrition and the right season’ for the seed to grow.
Hence, Ayurved advises special attention to be paid to the nutrition and protection of the woman to keep her (the soil) rich and clean. It further advises that a female under sixteen years of age and a male under twenty should not bear a child. The rules of sexual intercourse are also laid down. So also, those of antenatal care: the husband and other family members are advised to take care of the pregnant woman’s diet and encourage activities that are dear to her and beneficial to the foetus or child growing in her body.
Thus, the approach towards motherhood, that is pregnancy and childbirth, is a holistic one. Such concepts are excellent, but the question is are they practiced? In fact, it needs thorough introspection on our part to find out why this approach was abandoned.
Garbhadan Vidhi (The process of conception) :
Pregnancy occurs when a mature capacitated spermatozoa fertilizes a mature liberated ovum inside healthy uterus during Rutukala (ovulatory period). ’Satva’ along with ‘Atma’ enters in this fertilized ovum ,then it is called as ‘Garbha’.
Ayurvedic Care during Pregnancy :
The pregnancy care in Ayurveda has a very unique and special emphasis on the principles of care that are often not considered important enough in modern medicine. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach more than that of taking vitamins and supplements.
‘Garbhath prabhruthi suthayam bhishag bhavathi karyavan|
katham thu kale sapurne suyedhityaparaparam |
prapthe prasavakale cha bhayamuthpadhyathe yathaha asminnekasthitho padho bhavedhanyo yamakshaye.’
Ayurveda describes the general management of pregnancy under Garbhini Vyakaran. There are separate chapters for general management, special management, diseases in pregnancy and their treatment and so on. Rules concerning diet, activities, behavior and mental activity (ahar, vihar, achar and vichar respectively) are also laid down.
The physician is cautioned and advised to be very careful about the management of pregnancy: if a vessel filled with oil right up to the brim is to be carried without spilling even a single drop, every step has to be carefully watched. The same is the case in the management of a pregnant woman. The physician should aim at protecting and nourishing both the foetus and the mother.
During pregnancy fetus starts to get nutrition from mother through placenta. Adequate nutrition is needed for monthly constant and proper development of embryo.
Postnatal Ayurvedic Care :
The first three months or to be precise the 45 days after delivery are crucial for new mothers. Thus, Ayurveda has mentioned specific regimen for new mothers to prevent postpartum illness and improve her health up to 45 days to 6 months.
This period is of happiness and contentment, on one hand and physical and mental fatigue due to delivery, on the other hand, she become weak or emaciated after loss of blood and body fluid during delivery.
Acharya Kashyapa narrating stage of prasava (post-delivery) says that her one foot is situated in this loka and other in Yamaloka. The lady after such a difficult process of prasava must be advised certain mode of life called Sutika Paricharya. This regimen that helps the woman to regain her lost vitality and helps her body to revert back to pre- pregnant state to resotre health and strength.