42 Days after Birth – Supporting and Restoring Balance to the Mother | Banyan Botanicals

Supporting Your Ayurvedic Lifestyle

 

42 Days after Birth—Supporting and Restoring Balance to the Mother

posted in Pregnancy
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Preparing for Pregnancy

Ayurveda has a long tradition of supporting and promoting pregnancy. In fact, Ayurveda emphasizes the preconception period just as much, if not more, than the pregnancy period itself. The preconception time offers a golden opportunity to provide the best of the both of you to your future child. Continue Reading >

How do we rebalance our sacred womb after birth? In India, the Ayurvedic system recommends the mother receive care for 42 days after the baby is born. This means the mother is given the support to rest, sleep, eat, and get nourishment after the baby is born. This window in time is deeply critical for the mother and the child to acclimate to each other, heal, and bond as a family. In our Western culture we are asked to move quickly into the mother role and jump back to our responsibilities in and outside of the home. In addition, it takes a woman’s body a minimum of 1–2 years to fully recover from the birth experience. It can be longer if you are breast-feeding, became pregnant with another child, or did not take the important steps to recover.

I want to share how important it is to take this time for you and your baby. This is a moment when you will be flooded with emotion, responsibility, doubt, fear, exhaustion, and unexplainable love. You do not have to do it all, and the greatest gift you can give your family is to turn to those around you and say, “I need and want your help. I am willing to receive.” These words will give everyone around you the opportunity to give to you. The more specific you are with your needs and wants, the better. Every mother understands the vulnerability during the early stages of motherhood, including the second and third time around. Ask and you shall receive.

 

Mother and child

 

These are simple tips to assist you in taking the time to bring your womb and home back into balance postpartum and will ultimately serve your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical self. One of the most important things to remember is that your baby relies on you, and just because your baby is out of your womb does not mean your energetic connection stops. You are bound for life and your children rely on you to stay healthy. This is the most profound way to indirectly/directly serve your children.

Tips During the Transition

Addressing Forgetfulness

(this seems to be a common theme for all mothers)

A common sign of forgetfulness is dispersed Yin (female) energy. Warmth, oiliness, and keeping things slow and simple will assist in balancing your energy. Find the earth. Focus on the physical plane rather than the energetic or emotional bodies. This means read fewer books on how to be a parent and take less advice from others who pressure you to do something one way or the other. Take long walks out in nature and place your hands and feet on the earth.

“Pregnancy and Birth as well as the 24/7 on call in early postpartum require so much from maternal physical body nutrients that the more electrochemical and subtle medicines, willpower, and psychology are not as effective or lasting, cost much more money and time than just nurturing Mom deeply.”— Dr. Jessie Mercay

Building Earth, Water, and Fire

These are three key elements that will assist you in rebuilding and maintaining your energy. This is often why new parents feel exhausted—because they do not take time to nurture these elements within their physical body and outside their body. In addition, when our earth, water, and fire are balanced, these elements can ground the elements of air and space, which will support the cycle of creation within all five elements. Within the Ayurvedic system, these elements are present in the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), which are metabolic principles that indicate whether we are in balance in our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual being. After childbirth and well into motherhood, our vata, which is the combination of air and space, movement and change, needs the most balancing.

This is why you will want to focus on building earth, water, and fire with mindfulness and support. For the first six weeks, reduce and balance the air and space with the following:

  • Incorporate Warm, Moist, Oily Influences, Both Internally & Externally

Use self-massage, ghee, essential oils, and warm fluids. You should take frequent warm baths (not too hot) and begin a program of regular abhyanga (oil massage) for you and your baby.

  • Bring in Soothing, Restful, and Supporting Influences

Calm people create a peaceful environment that everyone can relax and rest in. Do not sleep in loud conditions, as this is a deconstructive cycle and inhibits good sleeping habits.

  • Increase the Sweet, Sour, and Salty Tastes

Mother Nature works beautifully. Naturally, you will find yourself craving these tastes, which pacify vata. Have healthy choices at your fingertips for effortless and mindful consumption.

  • Support Around the Home

Create lists for others. Indicate how they can help. Do not hesitate to give a task to everyone that offers. Again be direct and clear with what you want done. Everyone will feel happy to be of assistance.

  • Play Time

Make time to connect with your baby in a joyful manner—singing, gentle dancing, sharing conversation. Remember your infant is capable of understanding adult language. They are still very much connected to their last life. Take the time to connect and speak to them on a soul level. This will comfort them. Being in an infant body can be disorienting and frustrating. Share with them about who you are. Get to know your baby and see what they are revealing and communicating to you.

  • Nourish Self with Mindfulness

Take the time to sit down and eat your food. Have dad and/or family members hold the baby while you eat. Avoid inhaling your food. Yes, there will be moments where this cannot be avoided; however, start making good habits right now.

  • Nourish Self with Food

If you are breast-feeding it is really important to make sure you have good foods around you. If you spend a little more money you can have food delivered to you, or have others make it for you. It will significantly help you and baby recover after your pregnancy.

  • Avoid Raw Foods for the First Six Weeks or More

The exception is sweet fruits, which can be eaten when desired.

  • Choose an Organic, Pure, Balanced Diet

Favor fresh foods and include: sattvic (easy to digest) proteins, good cholesterol, and EFA 3 fats, green veggies, and sweet root vegetables. Introduce dark leafy greens after five to ten days. Sweet fruits, rice, wheat (if you are not intolerant), oats, and quinoa are vata-balancing grains. Asparagus, beets, carrots, fresh dill, fresh fenugreek leaves (methi), summer squash, pumpkins, avocados, artichokes, chayote, and okra are healthy options. Some well-seasoned green beans or broccoli are also good if you are not of thin body type. And peeled eggplant, kale, spinach, or chard may also be fine if properly seasoned. Be sure to use oils, seasonings, salt, and lime juice with leafy greens that have been gently steamed or sautéed.

  • Enjoy Cream of Rice or Wheat

Cooking with a generous amount of ghee, iron rich sugar and special seasonings such as ginger, cardamom, clove, fennel, anise, black pepper, and some cinnamon will support digestion. If your appetite is low or irregular and digestion is hampered, cooking grains with more water (3 cups water to one cup basmati rice, for instance) until it turns into a thin, long-cooked porridge, is ideal for first meals. Mothers tend to need food about five times a day, plus often hot milk, hemp milk, rice milk, or almond milk at bedtime. These milks will rejuvenate you and your baby when taken properly.

  • Roasted Garlic 

Cooking garlic in clarified butter till gently browned or baked to sweetness in the oven gives it qualities that support grounding, immunity, lactation, and healthy digestion. Avoid raw, under-cooked, marinated or dry garlic or onion, which is too sharp, promoting restless energy and possibly gas.

”'Indian grandmothers advise eating ‘30 lbs. of ghee in 3 months' demonstrates how serious we are about taking extra quantity of fats in what's called the postpartum oleation therapy. Enjoy an emphasis on generous clarified butter, sesame oil or occasional other organic fats in nearly all your foods. Good fats do multiple things including lubricating tender/dry bowels and other tissues, neutralizing metabolic wastes from birth work and collecting them from the tissues for easiest elimination thru lower digestive tract, and building hormones." – Dr. Jessie Mercay

Known to enkindle agni and promote digestion, ginger also supports comfort in the body.

  • Seasonings 

Many herbs and spices can be most beneficial at this time, such as basil, a little black mustard seed, cumin, caraway, citrus peel, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, licorice powder. Also consider fresh garlic, prepared only by mincing and browning in ghee, butter or sesame oil, ginger (fresh is often best), pinches of hing (asafoetida) instead of onion, lime, orange or lemon juice and peel, marjoram, and nutmeg (if you are not prone to constipation), a little black pepper, paprika, tamarind, tarragon, and turmeric and ajwan (wild celery) seeds. Ajwan seeds should be soaked first in cool water.

Remember to test the foods and seasonings discussed above to determine if you or baby have any sensitivities. For those who already have a history of food allergies, this could be a sign that the liver is not working properly and you may want to consult a practitioner. Keeping it simple and listening to your body is the way to go. This will be the best path to take during the process of restoring balance to your entire self.

Post-Pregnancy Gruel

Shri Charaka Samhita mentions a very liquid diet to be taken postpartum by the mother and gives mention of gruel with pippali and so forth being added.

Here are two versions of our post-pregnancy gruel for you to enjoy.

Sweet Version

(Serving 1)

Any well cooked sweet whole grain porridge preparation (organic), could be oats, wheat, rice, etc. and should be sweet but not too astringent.

Combine:

  • ½ cup grain of choice
  • 2 cups water, or organic cow's milk, as you prefer

Cook grain in the water for 30–40 minutes. When liquid in consistency add the ingredients below.

Add:

  • 1–2 tablespoons organic ghee
  • 2 teaspoons organic whole sweetener like maple syrup or organic sugar (unrefined)
  • 1 teaspoon of each cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger
  • 2–3 dates, chopped

Salty Version

(Serving 1)

Any well cooked sweet whole grain porridge preparation (organic), could be oats, wheat, rice etc. and should be sweet but not too astringent.

Combine:

  • ½ cup grain of choice
  • 2 cups water

Cook grain in the water for 30–40 minutes. When liquid in consistency add the ingredients below.

Add:

  • 1–2 tablespoons organic ghee
  • 2 teaspoons of homemade vata masala (To make vata masala, combine equal proportions of the following spices: asafoetida, fenugreek, fennel, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, ajwan, turmeric, and pippali. Blend in and store in an airtight container.)
  • ½ teaspoon rock salt
  • fresh coriander to taste
  • pinch of pure saffron

Keep the preparation watery.

“The emphasis here is on bringing vata down so taking sweet, nourishing, warm, and soupy porridge will help you gently restore health. The birth of a baby takes much strength from you and you must gradually restore back to full power. You must take maximum rest, keep warm, and keep your diet liquid, warm and unctuous.”— Shri Charaka Samhita

These are a few places where you can start. Rather than be overwhelmed with all the options and with motherhood, welcome in the alignment with self and your mother’s intuition. Ayurveda is a system that relates quite naturally to our relationship with the earth and the human species. We only need to make adjustments based on where we are in the world and the ingredients that most agree with our constitution. With all this being said take some deep breaths, listen, and move slowly into motherhood—it is an evolving journey with yourself, your child(ren), and your partner. Be gentle with everyone and you will find your way with a lot of courage, love, joy, and inspiration.