Keeping in close contact with the mother postpartum is very important, especially for the first 3 months.
New mothers can become fatigued and stressed out after an event as big as giving birth, just when they are also facing the challenge of caring for an infant! This is particularly true with new mothers who are doing all of this for the very first time. But if she has family and friends caring for her and showing her patience and love, she will have more energy and joy to give to her new child instead of feeling tired and sad. Postpartum depression is no secret, especially in modern day society. But using Ayurveda it’s possible to avoid it altogether!
The first three months after delivery are particularly important for a mother. Her body will be changing drastically again as her uterus shrinks back, her muscles, ligaments and tendons will begin to gain strength again and her mind and emotions will be adjusting to being a mother. The more nourishment and rejuvenation she does during the first three months, the stronger and healthier she will be for the rest of her life.
Bringing Vata Dosha back into balance will be the main focus, similar to during pregnancy. Vata governs the actual process of giving birth so with such an increase in the Dosha the mother’s digestion and immunity will be weak after delivery. The following sections will give specific recommendations for each category concerning postpartum care for the mother.
After giving birth, the new mother’s digestion is going to be weak. Because of this, it’s imperative that…
- She eats only easily digested foods such as kunyi, vegetable soups and kitchari, all cooked with ghee as the oil.
- She avoids Vata-increasing foods because they may cause gas and indigestion. Foods that increase Vata Dosha have the tastes pungent, bitter and astringent. Some examples of what to avoid are radishes, onions, chocolate, rice cakes and crackers. More detailed lists can be found online.
Postpartum, preparation gives way to rejuvenation. If the rejuvenation of the new mother is not thorough in the first eight weeks, the exhaustion and stress are just the precursors to all kinds of diseases.
- Daily abhyanga is extremely important for both the mother and baby after birth. Abhyanga can be started from 5 to 10 days after the baby is born. It will help to rejuvenate their minds, bodies and spirits as well as calm Vata Dosha after a major Vata-controlled event – giving birth.
- It’s ideal if a trained Ayurvedic massage therapist can come to the house and massage the mother, bring her warm tea and then draw her a warm bath to let the oil sink in through the layers of the skin. If that is not available, a self-massage with the warm oil can be just as effective. She may notice an immediate difference in her overall self after abhyanga, but there will be a significant difference after five to seven days of this daily practice. The aches and pains left over from giving birth will disappear and the oil will help to relax the mother.
- The new mother will typically enjoy massaging her new baby herself rather than the therapist doing it. It can be a beautiful bonding time for the pair. The mother can gently massage the baby with the warm oil just as she would herself and then bathe the baby in warm water.
- The best oils for a new mother and baby are Balaswagandhadi and Ksheerabala. These oils strengthen muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints and soothe the skin.
Now on to the next most important aspect of postpartum care – the mother’s immediate environment.
- She needs to rest as much as possible, so family members should be cleaning the house and cooking all the meals for about the first six weeks. The house should be kept warm, quiet, clean and comfortable in temperature and smell.
- It’s best if only immediate family and very close friends are allowed to interact with the mother and baby for the first few weeks to a month, though the mother should ultimately decide the time frame. After that, other people can be let in slowly and discriminately as long as the conversation is kept loving and positive. The infant and mother are both sensitive and susceptible to outside energies at this time, and should be kept away from negative influences.
Rest & Exercise
- Some mild walking is encouraged but heavy lifting and rigorous work or exercise is not beneficial because it can weaken tendons and uterine muscles and leave the mother exhausted.
- Dashamoola tea is a powerful way to soothe Vata Dosha in the pelvic region and aid in rejuvenation. Simply boil 2 cups of water with two teaspoons of Dashamoola. It can be consumed warm throughout the day in a thermos.
- This next tea can increase breast milk production. Boil ½ teaspoon each of fennel and fenugreek seeds for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Drink warm throughout the day for improved digestion, hydration, lactation and rejuvenation.
Supportive Herbal Remedies
Ayurveda has specific recommendations depending on the mother’s unique state of imbalance. The following products are only general suggestions for most mothers.
- Shatavari Gulam balances hormones and improves breast milk production. A teaspoon of plain Shatavari powder can also be taken mixed with one cup of boiled milk each day. This balances Vata Dosha and encourages the healthy retraction of the uterus back into its normal position and it calms the mind and relives depression.
- Dashamularishtam can be taken for the first two months. It greatly boosts immunity thus avoiding infections, inflammation and pain.
Prescribing Ayurvedic practices and remedies for women postpartum should be done with much thought into her location, the time of year and her unique constitution and current state of balance/imbalance. Ayurveda takes all of these factors into account. Remember that like attracts like and opposite brings balance. If the new mother is in a cold climate, emphasize remedies and practices that are warming and grounding. If she is in a hot or warm climate, recommend things that are lighter and cooler though still nourishing. Happy Healing with Ayurveda!
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All views and information shared here is only for the sharing of Ayurvedic knowledge. Please do not try or prescribe or take any of the remedies and suggestions here without talking to your regular, qualified doctor. Kottakkal Ayurveda and no other person associated with Kottakkal is responsible for unwanted side-effects or contraindications in your health. Thank you!