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Ayurvedic Tips for Pregnancy and Postpartum (Also for sickness during pregnancy)

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imageThere are entire books written on Ayurveda and pregnancy, but the following tips are ones I’ve remembered or have made a big difference for me. Most of the tips came from my ayurvedic doctor, or people familiar with ayurveda, while some of them come from just what I’ve heard. Ayurveda is the ancient science of life. It’s fascinating to learn about. I’m not an ayurvedic practitioner, and one thing to note is that in ayurveda, every person comes with their own individual constitution. Some of the things that work for me, may not work for you because of your body constitution. But, for the most part, these are general rules that most pregnant woman can follow.

Pleasant Smells

Smell can help with nausea (although for some women it makes it worse). You’ll know straight away that your snout is more sensitive towards certain smells, so avoid those yucky smells as much as possible (which you’ll do automatically). I used a few essential oils in early pregnancy to help with nausea, but there are so many contradictions around which oils are safe during pregnancy, that it’s hard to know which ones are truly safe for you. Best to ask an aromatherapist. I used lavender, lemon and peppermint, which I’ve heard are all safe during pregnancy. But, there are many that you should not use. Always double check.

Wear Green

Green is the color for fertility. Something like this. I always find myself attracted to green anyway when I’m pregnant! Or, just try to wear fun, bight colorful clothing. I’ve also heard to avoid wearing black. Although, isn’t it funny that almost every article of maternity clothing is black!

Avoid Watching Scary or Violent Movies

If you want to watch a movie, go for a comedy or something light. Remember, you’re two minds now, anything that gets into your consciousness can affect the baby.

Avoid Listening to Bad News

Same as above, just skip it. It’s easy to want to tune into the horror, click bait head lines, but during pregnancy, especially, try and avoid it.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has so many benefits, one of them is balancing the hormones. Since pregnancy sickness and all the ups and downs are caused by hormones, I found oil pulling helped enormously. I know that many women are so sick in the first trimester, the thought of swishing oil around in their mouths for 20 minutes is nauseating, but if you can stomach it, try it! Or save it for the second and third trimester. Here’s a blog post I wrote on how to do oil pulling.

Avoid Taking Daytime Naps

I’m not sure if this tip applies to everyone, but unless truly depleted, skipping that day time nap can make a huge difference in how you feel. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it’s especially important to not have a daytime snooze. Also, during my first trimesters, I found that if I took a nap, I would feel even more nauseous and groggy after I woke up! It was hard to resist, because my older children were sleeping and I lie down with them so they can fall asleep. But, if I peeled myself up and did some sort of meditation or breathing, instead of sleeping, I always felt much better than if I had fallen asleep.

Eat Small, Frequent Meals

This is not exclusively ayurvedic advice, most health care professionals will you tell you this as well. Although, can be really hard because sometimes you’re feeling ravenous, especially in the second and third trimester! Eating smaller meals more frequently helps with digestion and it is especially useful if you start feel dizzy or dull. Make sure to drink plenty of water too (even though you feel like you’re running to the loo every two seconds).

Eat Easy to Digest, Warm, Wet Food

Food that is easy to digest is warm, wet and oily (think about the environment of your intestines). Of course, if you’re really nauseous, you want to eat anything you can keep down. But, if you can, soups, cooked or steamed veggies that have a little oil or butter on them, stuff like that will keep you from getting indigestion and heart burn. Remember, meat takes up to 72 hours to digest! Cold dairy is also hard to digest. While grains, pulses, fruits and veggies take between 1-4 hours to digest. Avoid sour and pungent foods, such as pickles… I know, I know, it seems to be what we crave, but see how it makes you feel and avoid it if it doesn’t make you feel good.

Finish Eating Before 7pm or sooner

This is a general tip for everyone. You should give yourself at least 3 hours after you’ve eaten your dinner, before you go to bed. So, if you go to bed at 10, be finished eating by 7pm. (For me, I generally don’t make it until 10 when I’m pregnant, so I try to eat around 5:30 or 6). Going to bed on a full stomach makes your digestion sluggish and means toxins will build up in the body more easily. It can also disturb your sleep. That saying, ‘eat dinner like a pauper‘ is exactly right. Eat your bigger meal for lunch. Dinner should be light, so that you can give your body that chance to digest.

Gentle Yoga Stretching

If you’ve done yoga before, so gentle easy yoga that does not put pressure on the abdomen. If you’ve never done yoga, consider doing a pregnancy yoga class.

Meditate and Breathing Exercises Daily

Meditation calms the mind and has countless benefits for your physical and emotional health. When I feel tired during the day, I do a mediation (if you have older kids, just fit it in where you can, sometimes with them climbing on you, but hey, better than nothing!). This always works to make me feel better, no matter what stage of pregnancy. If you’ve never meditated before, now is a good time to start, I highly recommend doing Sahaj Samadhi course, a meditation technique taught by the Art of Living Foundation. There is also an awesome app called Sattva. It has free guided meditations you can do without even leaving your home.

The breathing technique that really helps to balance your system during pregnancy (and all other times) is called ‘Nadi Shodhan’ also known as ‘alternate nostril breathing’. It’s very easy to do, and only five minutes of it can make a big difference in how your feeling. This breathing technique helps to calm the mind and balances the sides of the brain, to name a couple benefits. Here’s a video on how to do it.

Listent to Chanting, Nice Music

Music affects how we feel, and has an impact on the nervous system, so choose music that makes you feel happy and light. Chanting and listening to sanskrit, has a very pleasant affect on the mind. One particular chant my ayurvedic doctor recommend to me was the Rudram chant you can find on the Sattva app. Also Om Nama Shivaya, is on that app, I like to do that one myself.

Massage/Self Massage

Not only does massage help to relax you, but it also helps bring balance to the system. If you’re able to get pregnancy massages every week, then you should! But, if you’re like me and you’re on a time and money budget, you can do self massage. Best to do it every day (as if), but a couple times a week is better than nothing. Here is a video on how to do self massage, called ‘abhyanga‘. Note that this woman is not pregnant, so obviously, massaging the abdomen and trying to get to your liver, you would leave out.

Bad Dreams?

Some of the dreams can be coming from the baby’s consciousness. If you believe in past lives, apparently, the dreams can come from their past impressions. Meditation before bed can help with this.

 

After the Birth

REST FOR SIX WEEKS!

Almost all cultures around the world have a specified rest period for woman after they give birth. In ayurveda, six weeks is the magic number. In these six weeks, you are not even supposed to really leave the house. Not supposed to cook or clean! Just sit around and bond with your baby. I know it’s not possible for most woman to get this time to rest exclusively, but just be mindful that those six weeks are meant for rest. Knowing that, then you can avoid doing unnecessary activities and you can achieve the best rest you’re going to get. Don’t be afraid to get people you know to drop off food, or come clean the house!

The way my ayurvedic put it to me was like this: After the baby is born, there is this ‘space’ this ‘void’ where the baby used to be. If you take good rest and good care of yourself, when this void closes, it will not trap any ailments in the body. If you don’t rest properly, you can do irreversible damage to the balance of the body. Of course, I never knew this, and was running around like a lunatic after my second’s birth. She said, luckily, if you have another baby, you get another chance of healing, because the void opens up again. Getting that six weeks of rest is almost like a rebirth for the mother. Cool, huh?

Tummy Wrapping

Wrapping the tummy helps to close the void. If you know a little about ayurveda, the flabby tummy thing is left over is excess vata (vata is the movement, has the quality of air) that helped get the baby out in the first place. If you wrap the tummy, then you help to get rid of the excess vata. It also helps to heal the tummy muscles that have been separated (diastasis rectus). You can buy a belly band specifically made for post partum healing, and you can also wrap your tummy in the old fashion way of using a long piece of fabric. Some woman use their favourite baby wearing wrap. Just do a google search and you’ll find what’s best for you. The important thing is that you do the tummy wrapping before 6 weeks! Apparently, if you skip this time period, it’s very hard to heal muscles and to decrease the vata (that pesky left over vata is what causes that pouch!)

Massage for you and the baby

My friends from India say that mothers with new babies have someone come to their house every day for a massage for the first two years! Pffftttt… If only that were normal here. What you can do, is schedule someone to come to your house for a massage after the baby is born, or you can do the self massage on yourself, as described above. Also, massage for the baby every day, using special baby massage oil. My ayurvedic doctor recommended that I use a massage oil called ‘bala oil’ for babies.

There are so many other things to consider when pregnant, these were just the main ones that seemed practical to share. Happy pregnancy!

 

 

Something Must Happen When They Turn 4

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imageIt happened with my older daughter and again, as the younger one reached the same age. It was like angels singing one day. Suddenly, something changed and when I stopped to think about what it was, I remembered, “Oh, they turned 4!”

Not that my kids have been overly difficult at 3 (I know, threenager is nothing to laugh about), but I definitely noticed a huge shift around 4. More reasonable. More cooperative. More able to cope with stimulation. More confidence. Need to be carried less/can walk father. Less baby-ish and more like a “kid”.

I’ve asked a lot of mothers about this, and many of them have confirmed my observations: something big happens at 4. Four isn’t really considered significant in terms of ‘categories’ for children’s ages. Technically, 4 is somewhere in the middle of preschool age, but I see 4 as a big milestone.

It just seems that at 4, things get ‘easier’. Of course, easier in some ways. Pysically easier, while the other types of emotional and mental demands sort of increase! But, a big change nonetheless.

Stop Glorifying Exhaustion!

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I was just reading an article titled something like “21 Secrets Midwives Will Never Tell You About Their Job”. The article seems nice enough. The midwife talks about the love of her job, etc. But one thing she inadvertently does is brag about how exhausted she gets at work! Yes, hardly a break, hardly a bite to eat or a drink in a 9-12 hour shift. As if it’s something to admire….

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want someone over-worked and on the brink of exhaustion, making split minute decisions about my health or the health of my baby.

It’s one thing to work hard. Working hard is good for us. And sometimes we have no choice. But, working to the brink of collapse, and being proud about it, is pretty wacky. If you’re in a life or death situation and you have to work until you drop, yes, you’re a hero. But, in our society, we’re generally not pushing ourselves to exhaustion in a life or death situation. But we still think being tired is pretty cool. Read the rest of this entry

Velcro Child

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Some kids are runners or wanderers. Mine? They are not. They stick to me. As babies, they wanted to be held or carried in a baby carrier and never wanted to be put down in public places. They are far from baby age now, and yet, they still stick. My nearly 4 year old insists on holding my hand when we go out. In a new place, she parks herself on my lap until she’s 100% sure it’s safe to roam around. She sleeps next to me at night. If she wakes up and I’m not there, she’s pretty upset until she can find me. My 6 year old follows me around the house all day, sticking her nose into all of my business.

Am I worried?

Not one tiny bit.

It seems a little annoying at times. In a world where ‘independence‘ is pushed, I can see where parents get especially bothered by children who only want to be by their parent’s side all day long.

But…

Read the rest of this entry

Living On Stolen Land. I’m Sorry.

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If you ask the people in the town I grew up in, what the land was before our neighbourhood was built, they’ll tell you that it used to be a potato farm.

But, for how long was it a potato farm? Before that, what was it? Wasn’t it a vast forest that was home to wildlife and… the Native Americans who used to live there? Yes. But, most history doesn’t go back that far, apparently. That’s in America, where today, they’re celebrating their ‘Independence Day’. The day when the founding fathers of America decided they were tired of taxation without representation. Well… if you ask my mother, and any other mother, she’ll probably chew your ear off about how high her taxes are.

Eight years ago, my husband and I moved to Australia. Right now, we’re in the process of buying a place. Actually, wait. We’re in the process of buying a teeny tiny apartment on some patch of dirt and this teeny tiny apartment is expensive (although relatively cheap for this area). As in, so expensive that my husband has to be away from his family between 40-50 hours a week, just to so that we can afford it. And, I have to scramble to find work from time to time to make ends meet. That’s ‘normal‘, isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry

Are You In Bed By Ten O’Clock? You Should Be!

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This past weekend, while I was teaching a Happiness Program, the question of bedtime came up. I asked people if they could guess what time is the best time to go to bed by, and almost all of them answered ‘midnight‘.

But, midnight’s too late!

The magic hour to be in bed by, is ten o’clock! (As in, before 10, and not much later than 10.)

In ayurveda, the science of life, the day is broken down into different types of energies. You’ve probably felt these energies without even knowing about them. For example, very early in the morning, before the sun rises, everything is sort of still and dreamy. In the middle of the day, you feel like running around and doing things. In the afternoon, you find it hard to concentrate at work or school, etc. We could go on and on about which actives are best during certain hours, but below is a simple breakdown of the day and the energies according to ayurveda. Read the rest of this entry

Fit Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Parental Self-Care is More Important Than You Think

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What good can you be to your family, if you’re walking around drained and depleted?

I almost didn’t go. The timing, the money… And then, on the morning I was meant to fly to Sydney for The Art of Silence course, a four day silent meditation retreat, my nearly 4 year old woke up with a fever and a cough. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be mean to go away while she’s not feeling well?” Mega guilt trip.

I asked in one of my mother’s Facebook pages if I should go and there was a unanimous chorus of GO! One of the responses was, “This is a fit your own oxygen mask situation! 

The past six months, I had been grumpy, tired, and snapping at the kids. Stressed from work. About to move houses. Pregnant. You name it. It was only going to get worse if I didn’t do something about it.

When I said goodbye at the airport, the kids were sad. I was sad. Was this *really* worth it??? Read the rest of this entry

This Kid is Taking FOREVER to Fall Asleep! Eight Reasons Why.

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Not tired

It sounds too simple to be true, but in order for sleep to take over, the child actually needs to be tired. Read on.

Putting to bed too early.

Some kids just have their natural sleep time. When my first was a baby, if I tried to get her to bed before 8pm, it never, ever worked. She’s six years old and I still don’t bother trying before 8pm, even when she’s exhausted. Anything after 10pm (which is pretty late for a child) and you have to be careful because the child can actually become more wide awake. The same rule applies for adults, try to go to bed before 10 and it’s easier to fall asleep. Read the rest of this entry

I Suck At Making The Facebook Pregnancy Announcement

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It’s not so much that I’m lacking the creativity, it’s just that I always think about who is going to see it.

I feel weird blabbing it on-line without looking directly into the face of the person I’m telling. I know, I blab everything else on-line, but this is different. I told most of the my friends I interact with in my day-to-day life, really early. I wanted them to know why I was flaking on meeting up with them, had barely enough energy to walk down the street and why I was repulsed by eating any food after 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But, we could talk about it. I could see their face. I knew their story. Read the rest of this entry

Byron Bay Gifts: Need a unique gift for someone?

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Organic. Local. Hand Crafted. That’s what business owner, Zoe, of Byron Bay Gifts is all about. On the website, you’ll find everything from beautiful baby shower gift boxes and business hampers, to non-toxic, vegan, nail polish! The gift pack she sent me had a very cute little baby book, by a local writer. A bar of local hand made soap that smells and feels divine. And a wooden teething toy that smells so good that I’ve sniffed it quite a few times. I almost feel like trying it out myself! I love that the products she sources are from the Northern Rivers area (that’s near Byron Bay, Australia in case you’re reading this from far away). If I have to buy something for a baby showerChristmas party or to pamper a friend, or something like that… I know where I’ll be placing my oder.