Birthing Ayurveda: Week 7—Fear Into Courage and Combating Nausea
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.
Fear is a funny thing. Those who are familiar with Ayurveda know that fear and anxiety are vata emotions because they have such an airy quality to them. In other words, there’s no real substance to it—yet, they have this amazing ability to completely take over and dominate the mind and one’s existence.
More often than not, they are products of our imagination. The mind goes into “what-if’s” about the unknown—an area that the mind has absolutely no knowledge of or experience with and therefore cannot make any judgments or opinions with real basis.
This week, as I really worked to accept the big news that I am pregnant, my mind kept going there. It kept going to the unknown, and consequently, did an amazing job of making stories and playing movies of how things will change. I won’t have any time with my husband, we won’t be able to travel, I will become inactive, I will have to change my career, I won’t be able to attend conferences, I will spend most of my time reading story books and doing crafts, instead… the list goes on and on.
I remember that one of the values that I decided I wanted to live my life by (literally, just a few months ago I put this in writing) was courage. Not just the type that gives me the strength to speak my heart or stand for what is right, but the courage that allows me to not just accept, but embrace, what life gives me without any hesitation or judgment. Funny how easily I can forget these things in the moments that I am challenged most.
Well, as much as my mind wanted to avoid facing these fears, my body sure didn’t. I had this perpetual feeling of nausea. The kind that makes my mind all foggy, my vision kind of blurry, and leaves me begging to just throw up. But I didn’t throw up— I was just nauseated. Anything I ate made me very bloated and nauseated.
Nausea in pregnancy is not uncommon. In addition to emotional and mental factors, the rise of hormones that the body is not used to creates the feeling of nausea. In Ayurveda, we also recognize that nausea is the byproduct of high pitta in the body. Estrogen and progesterone definitely have a pitta quality to them. So, in addition to continuing the process of processing, I tried many things to reduce pitta:
- Completely eliminated spicy and oily foods. Avoided fruits that were too acidic or heating (even mangoes!).
- Stayed out of the high noon sun.
- Reduced pitta after meals with herbs like guduchi and shatavari.
- Started taking shatavari kalpa (recipe below!)—which is supposed to surely cut high pitta causing nausea and support healthy building of the body—with a glass of cool milk (half cup milk and half cup water so it is easy to digest).
- Because of the bloating, I also knew there was high vata. So I continued my daily self-massages (Just use gentle strokes and less oil for a more vata pacification effect rather than a detox effect. When in doubt, consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner,) morning breathing exercises, and made sure I got enough rest.
Well, the nausea continued. I finally called my dear teacher who suggested that if the shatavari kalpa was not helping the nausea and acidity, then my stomach is probably totally wound up with emotions of anxiety and fear. In other words, I was not doing a good job of really facing them. The stomach is the epicenter of the solar plexus, the third chakra. It is the source of our will, our self-esteem. When our will gets bent and pushed and we begin to feel out of control, this chakra is often the first to respond.
After I got off the phone with her, I meditated, placed my hands over Charlie and really looked at him and accepted him as a true being inside of me, and welcomed him into my heart. I envisioned the person I want to be (not the person who I was being)—a person with courage, compassion, enthusiasm, and vitality.
I then ate a small meal, with full attention on each bite. I envisioned it going down the digestive tract, envisioned my stomach and intestines freely moving without fear or hesitation. With every breath, I affirmed that everything is going to be more than ok—it’s going to be great.
My life has always taken turns that I never planned for or expected, and it has never left me disappointed. For me, courage and faith go hand-in-hand. After solidifying these qualities in me that evening, I was pleased to find that my food did digest better. Sure, there was still a little nausea, but nothing overwhelming.
The challenge and key now will be to maintain that centeredness in courage and faith. My only obstacle to doing so is my self.