Birthing Ayurveda: Week 34—All About the Ojas!
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.
Have you been experiencing time periods where you are suddenly extremely exhausted? In the last week or two this has been very pronounced. My sleep has been normal and I am not doing anything that is particularly exerting, so I was quite surprised by these huge fluctuations in my energy. It was to the point where I could barely keep my eyes open.
During this time, the eighth month or so, the essence of life and immunity (ojas) starts flowing back and forth between the mother and the baby. Those periods of extreme exhaustion are periods when the ojas is flowing away from you and to the baby. The more stable this flow can happen, the more stable the baby’s ojas will also be.
I took the fact that I was getting very exhausted as a sign that I need to build my ojas, not only for myself, but also for Charlie (what we call the baby) so that he is getting ample amounts of ojas as needed. There are many ways to build ojas.
- Ingest more ghee. I started putting ghee, as much as I could tolerate, in all of my foods and adding it to my warm milk that I drink daily. No need to be stingy with ghee. Enjoy it since it is very nourishing and supports the digestive fire (agni).
- Eat ojas promoting foods, like almonds, dates, wholesome milk, avocados, cashews, pumpkin or sesame seeds, sweet, juicy fruits (mangos, peaches), sweet potatoes or yams, tapioca, and rice pudding. Make sure the foods are nourishing, fresh, and wholesome. More vibrantly colored vegetables have more life (prana).
- Get rest and avoid excessive exercise.
- Sleep, sleep, and sleep some more! Avoid daytime sleeping, though.
- Meditate. Meditation and increasing the sense of feeling content in life is one of the most effective ways of increasing ojas.
- Laugh a lot, give a lot, and love a lot. These activities fill the heart and grow ojas.
- Avoid excessive sex. As we discussed previously, ojas is released with every orgasm.
- Do a self-massage.
- Practice pranayama (breath work). Focus on slow, deep breathing like slow nadi shodhana or abdominal breathing.
It really didn’t take me long to start seeing the effects of some of these practices. I still get periods of exhaustion but not as drastic nor as dramatically. I also used these tiring periods as a sign that the little one is alert and building itself. I spent a few minutes talking to Charlie and just saying a friendly “What’s up!?” It was a good opportunity to connect.
An Update on the Ligaments
As an update, I wanted to share how my pelvic ligament pains have been going. Not so good, to put it simply. I again visited with my chiropractor, and he feels that my left inguinal ligament is folding over and getting inflamed, as are my pubic symphysis ligaments. Then there’s the ligament near my sit bones that is likely sprained. Let this be a life example of how loose your ligaments are and how easy it is to strain them! Be very moderate with how much you stretch (especially during yoga!).
I took a few measures with huge improvements.
- Began spending some time daily on all four hands and knees and doing cat-cow pose. This helped relieve the pressure on my pubic bone quite a bit to the point where I could feel a difference almost immediately.
- I do regular exercises on all-fours which involve raising each leg for five seconds with five repetitions (important here is activating the gluteal muscles and bringing the leg in towards the center). Then I bring each leg out to the side (like a dog peeing on a hydrant). Next, I stand, and using the wall for support, I bring the leg up and towards the center with the knee bent. Again five repetitions, each lasting five seconds. I also am doing Kegel exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor. I am basically building all the muscles that support the pelvic ligaments.
- I am certainly using my pelvic belt but not a belly support belt. This belt wraps around the hipbones and across the pubic bone itself, stabilizing the bones.
- I don’t do anything that invokes any type of pain. I am being better about squatting and keeping my legs together when I roll over in bed or get in and out of the car.
- I have increased oleation with ghee internally and then also vaginally with what is essentially a vaginal tampon with sesame oil (which I remove after thirty minutes). The discomfort in the ligaments comes from the dry and cold quality and these measures counter that dryness.
For those out there with similar struggles, my heart goes out to you. But try these tips as they have made a world of a difference for me.