Ayurveda thinks that there are three doshas or vital energies: vata, pitta and kapha, all derived from the five elements. Vata is space and air, pitta is fire and water and kapha is earth and water. Each human being is very naturally inclined to a certain dosha and this impacts their body type, temperament and health.
When you first give birth, your vata increases because of the now empty belly, the loss of fluids and blood, and the decline in energies, by creating an imbalance in the body that very often drives postpartum anxiety.
Here\’s a how to guide to balance vata, heal yourself from labor, and get you on the path to future health and balance.
New mothers and babies are encouraged to rest at home for 40 days or six weeks, to avoid contact with outside influences that may affect the well-being and health of mother and baby. It is common for new mothers to return to their mother\’s home during this time, or for family members to come over to help with the baby and with domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning. Above and beyond this, visits are limited so that the mother can rest and to safeguard her and the baby from potential illnesses.
Motherhood is exhausting and overwhelming, especially in the early days; in Ayurvedic care, the support network \” nurses\” the mother and allows her time to devote to herself.
REVITALIZE THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
New mothers must eat warm, soft, brothy foods that are easy to digest, vata balancing and restore agni (the digestive fire). Foods are rich in ghee to promote digestion, keep digestion energy levels high and ensure that stools are soft. Foods are also rich in herbs and spices that release gas and promote lactation. For example, black pepper and ginger are favorite spices for some and most avoid chili peppers.
Foods that are difficult to digest or cause swelling and gas, such as raw vegetables, cauliflower, chickpeas and beans, should be totally avoided to keep the new mother\’s vata in balance.
Dietary guidelines are stricter in the first two to four weeks postpartum, and new foods introduced after this period.According to Ayurveda, a mother’s diet influences the quality of milk and health of the baby.
Accordingly, new foods are introduced to the mother’s diet one at a time to check the response of the baby.
COVER YOUR EARS AND KEEP WARM
The ears are recognized as a point of access for air into the body. To prevent an imbalance of vata, new mothers and babies are well advised to plug their ears with absorbent cotton. Keeping the feet warm can also help balance vata.
This is also one of the the reasons for physically binding the new mother\’s stomach after delivery, to prevent excess air from entering.
CREATE A CALM ATMOSPHERE WITH GOOD VIBES AND POSITIVE ENERGY
The connection between new mothers and babies is very strong, and the stimuli a woman experiences when she is pregnant can influence the baby. This is why pregnant women are advised to opt for positive television programs, movies, books and more. This concept continues into the postpartum period as well. New mothers are advised to create soothing environments and maintain positive thoughts, especially during breastfeeding. Environments should be kept warm and wind flow should be controlled to protect the mothers\’ vata balance.
KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED WITH SPECIAL TEAS TO STIMULATE LACTATION
Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to sip on warm water and drink warm teas to stay hydrated. The teas are typically a concoction of galactogogues (herbs that stimulate milk production) which also tend to aid in digestion, such as mehti (fenugreek seeds), saunf (fennel), jeera (cumin), ajwain (caraway) and Shatavari. These herbs and spices can be added to food as well.
Turmeric milk or golden milk, often mixed with ginger is frequently consumed too. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is highly recommended for new mothers. It also helps in avoiding clogged milk ducts and swollen breast tissue for mothers who breastfeed.
Ashwagandha tea is also a common tea given postpartum as it helps in reducing stress and anxiety. Ayurveda also recommends dashamoola tea, which is made with 10 roots and helps in removing excess vata from body and regain strength and vitality.
LIE IN BED AS MUCH IS POSSIBLE
Your body will thank you later. The sub-dosha of Vata: Apana, which allowed the expulsion of the baby, is a movement that goes down. Your body, your uterus and all your organs and systems need time to find their places. Give it time. A few days is not enough.The gravity of the standing posture is too intense on the body for at least a month.
Postpartum care is complicated because it requires you to be selfish, loving, and caring for a helpless new being as you go through a massive experience of transformation. It\’s intense and an overwhelming one. But it can be a gift, if we treat each other well and set limits and reasonable expectations.
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