There 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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!