During pregnancy, Ayurveda can be a wonderful complement to the care you are receiving from your doctor or other medical practitioner — especially living in this modern age in this frenetic city of ours.
Ayurveda is a traditional medicine system from India that addresses the whole person: mind, body and spirit. It is also having quite a moment in the spotlight right now, as many of us are seeking more balance and traditional healing in our lives. At over 5,000 years old, Ayurveda is perhaps the oldest system of health and healing on our planet, and it is still widely practiced today.
In Ayurveda, pregnancy is viewed as a very special and spiritual time in a woman’s life. It is often reported that a pregnant woman’s aura is particularly luminous and golden — this is Ayurveda’s explanation for that intangible “pregnancy glow“that we hear about! This is a time when a woman’s intuitive abilities are particularly high, and meditation and other spiritual practices are highly recommended at this time.
Pregnancy is a time to bond with your child, and as we well know, self-care is very important during this time. Many physical and emotional changes are occurring during these 9 months. According to Ayurveda, pregnancy is the time to balance the Vata dosha, which is the energy of air and space, which dominates the nervous system. (By the way, New York City is considered a “Vata” city, so if you live here, chances are you already have a Vata imbalance!)
Here’s 3 ancient Ayurveda self-care tips to follow during pregnancy.
- Incorporate Fats and Oils into Your Diet. We should always incorporate plenty of healthy fats into our diet, but especially during pregnancy. It is vital that a pregnant woman consumes enough fats and oils, not only to help her gain enough weight during pregnancy, but also to help the baby’s brain develop. Fats and oils also balance Vata, which is dominant. Healthy fats can include: organic whole milk, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) and avocado. Favor raw or grass-fed dairy, if possible. Cooking with ghee (clarified butter) helps promote digestion, which can be irregular during pregnancy, when the Vata dosha is dominant. All Ayurvedic herbs are fat-soluble — this means that their nutrients are more efficiently delivered to the cells and tissues when accompanied by a healthy fat.
A secret Ayurvedic tip to help your baby’s immunity and vitality is to take one spoonful daily of this golden elixir of life each day of pregnancy: add one teaspoon of warm milk with one teaspoon of grass-fed ghee.
Before bed, take a regular dose of warming turmeric milk to build vitality: Melt 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon powder in one cup of warm milk, on the stove. When the spices have assimilated into the milk, add 1 tsp of raw honey. This will aid digestion, calm the nerves and help with sound sleep.
- Eat Sattvic. In Ayurveda, when a food is sattvic it means it is pure and fresh. This means: avoid leftovers. No processed foods. It is advised to buy organic and non-GMO produce. An expectant mother needs to consume pure and easily digestible foods that nourish the dhatus, or tissues of both her and her baby. Also, cooked food is better than raw during pregnancy, as raw foods tend to aggravate digestion.
A sattvic diet is said to increase the qualities of purity and clarity in the mind. Sattvic and grounding foods such as organic dairy, nuts, whole grains, beans, fruit, and fresh cooked vegetables deliver prana, or cosmic life force, to the body. They also help to build ojas, or vitality, for both you and your baby.
- Nourish The Body and Mind through Oil Massage. Most importantly, nourish yourself. As traditional medicine teaches us, everything that you taste, see, touch, and feel during pregnancy, the baby experiences too. Give yourself a daily massage with warming and grounding Ayurvedic oils to nourish your mind, body and spirit as well as the baby’s.
In Sanskrit, the word sneha means both “oil” and “love.” This speaks volumes. Abhyanga, Sanskrit for “oil massage,” is a timeless Ayurvedic ritual. Applying oil to the body is grounding and relaxing, and provides stability and warmth. This ritual evaporates stress and fatigue. You are literally giving love to yourself and your baby, while also helping to diminish stretch marks, restore skin’s elasticity, and relieve that pregnant belly itching. Win-win-win!