Birthing Ayurveda: Week 25—The Start of Postpartum Planning—Energy and Space
Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
Up until now, I have largely dedicated my mental and emotional energy towards this child’s development in my womb and my development as it relates to Charlie (what we call the baby). Frankly, giving those two things my 100% has been just enough for me to handle. But as the third trimester begins to come within sight (and boy is time flying!), I begin to sense the need to start the planning and nesting processes.
During family dinners, questions for my husband and I have come up, like how do we want to spend the postpartum period? Which mom will stay with us first? And until now, the “we haven’t gotten there, yet” answer has been satisfactory. However, this week the same questions have started to enter our minds. What is going to be best for the three of us as Charlie enters the world and our lives completely transform into being full-time parents?
We decided to discuss and start exploring what environment and energy we want Charlie to enter into before we jump into any logistics. The ancient scriptures of India have talked about just that topic in quite some detail. Most of my infant knowledge on this topic comes from the Keno Upanishad (Vedic scriptures) and various talks by my late spiritual teacher, Pandurang Shastri Athavle.
The period is called vrutti sutak and it lasts a total of 120 days (or four months). As we know, during this period there are large shifts and transitions going on in both the mother and baby. For the baby, in my spiritual structure, we believe that the baby is also processing its transition from its past life and into the world. Done properly, the purpose of vrutti sutak is to build a strong intellect (buddhi) and internal workings (or antah karana). As a result, the child will develop a strong sense of Self and have a stable source of self-confidence and self-reliance.
For the first 21 days, there is isolation with the parents and complete silence for the baby because the baby's mind will seek and search for the sounds it hears again, stimulating the memory faculty of the mind. Again, the goal is to let the intellect develop and for the baby to work through past memories, instead of creating new ones. The remainder of the 120 days is continued isolation with just the baby’s parents, but with sattvic sounds and songs. During such an impressionable time, the baby should have its space to develop a strong sense of Self and purity without distractions. Likewise, it is important for the mother to remain in a strong, stable, sattvic environment, so that she too can have that internal environment.
Learning about this period in more detail (which I will share in later blog posts), we decided that it was of utmost importance to make sure that the environment is pure and sattvic, positive, stable, and grounded. We became committed to doing whatever we needed to do create that space.
With that spirit in mind, we started planning the first few logistics of the postpartum plan from more of an energetic perspective.
- Do we need more space (we currently live with family and we did not want distractions during such an impressionable and fragile time)?
- Do we want the help of one mother, both mothers, or other family members (we wanted to avoid any potential clashes so that the environment stays positive)?
- What systems will be supportive of that environment (do we need help around the house since I can become cranky when I am exhausted, what Ayurvedic treatments will be beneficial, who is on our list of friends and family close by that we can ask for help, etc)?
- What do we need to do now to prepare ourselves for this?
I have seen a number of friends determined to complete this time period (and I will say that I do believe that doing some variation of the 120 days is better than none!). But it is no joke to complete (think of it as a 120-day meditation and service retreat), which is why this last question became very important. To that end, we both have become even more committed to our meditation practices and disciplines.
For all of you around this stage of pregnancy, I think this is a great time to start asking yourself how you envision your postpartum period from a very free and creative space before getting bogged down in details of schedule, meals, shopping lists, herbs, etc. Ayurveda emphasizes this period just as much, if not more, than the pregnancy period itself. For that reason, start the planning now so that you and your baby’s transition is full of bonding, love, purity, and stability.