Being born as a Woman means you are born with a potential to be a Mother. You have been endowed with a unique body system that can bear the future generation and nourish it to keep life going.
Your soul is creativity itself wherein creations blossom to set the world alive! Be happy for being such a unique member of the Universe.
Entering Motherhood is the most transforming event in a woman’s life. When a woman gives birth to a child, a Mother is also born. The birth of a mother is even more intense than childbirth because the child is unaware of the birth, while the mother is fully conscious and aware of her new birth as a Mother. And whatever you do consciously or in awareness transforms you from within.
While your child needs you, you also need yourself. You need to take care of yourself so you can take better care of your baby. For this you need to prepare in advance, even before child birth and pregnancy.
Taking up the role of a Mother is a beautiful venture. It can be quite an adventure to rear a little someone into a full grown human being. If you are willing to take up this responsibility you are adorable!
But before we jump into this, ask yourself few questions:
Are you physically, mentally, emotionally and financially ready for it? What does your partner think about it? Is he ready to support you in it? How aware are you of the changes that your body and mind will undergo in the whole process of child-bearing and child-birth?
Educate & Nourish Yourself But Most Important: Be Happy
Know your body, inside-out and recognize the needs of the body while you are pregnant and what nourishment you would require during those nine months. Study, but do not stress yourself with overflow of information.
Beyond basic health and safety in pregnancy, don’t get yourself stressed about detailed diets and rules. Stress can reduce Oxytocin, which is the love and bonding hormone.The most important thing during your pregnancy is to be happy and stay calm.
Few Nutritional Tips
- Raw foods and drinking lots of water are good in early pregnancy. During pregnancy, you can tolerate a lot more raw food than during postpartum.
- Avoid or reduce spices including garlic, fennel, asafoetida, fenugreek, especially earlier in pregnancy.
- Reduce or omit the ghee, especially later in pregnancy.
- Reduce sugar and salt during pregnancy compared to postpartum.
- As always everybody is different. Be guided by your body and your taste buds.
Know Your Doctor / Mid-wife/ Doula
During pregnancy and child-birth you would need assistance. Look for someone you can trust and is near your place, so you can be confident of reaching out whenever in need.
Preparing For Childbirth
While all baby needs like diapers, sheets, baby clothing etc. go into preparing the diaper bag (See blog post on organizing your diaper bag) to the hospital, you need your own Mummy equipment too, like postpartum outfits.
Essential Maternity Wear
You need not to have a very expensive or fashionable maternity wardrobe. Something that's loose, comfortable and adaptable to your changing body is just what you need. The size will keep altering until a year to get stable.Some comfortable maternity bras, nursing pads, incontinence pants/super-absorbent winged sanitary pads and full sleeve long t-shirts with leggings can make for an essential maternity wardrobe. Some cultures may even suggest covering the head with a bandanna or a scarf to keep warm. Read more on this in our previous blog post on maternity wear)
Labor is Exhausting
Be prepared for the eleventh hour. Labor pain can be exhausting, as in just a few hours your body loses vast amounts of earth (for example the baby and placenta), water (in amniotic fluid and tears) and fire (through blood and sweat). These elements may require replenishment through your post-partum diet.
Though labor is exhausting it is rewarding at the same time when you see the little one. A tiny life, wrapped in your own sheet of skin.
The feeling is akin to working tremendously hard, to sweat out, lose weight and see yourself in good shape, but that happens in ounces over period of time in exercise, here it happens on a pretty large scale in a short span of time and the shape of yourself that you see in the outcome is another breathing being!
The feeling is wonderful!
Ayurveda emphasizes balancing the elements in your body after child-birth, meaning you need to replace the earth, water and fire that is lost in childbirth.
Many Newborn Mothers say they feel ‘spaced out’ or ‘dried up’ and what they literally mean is the air and space elements in their body are too high and need balancing with earth and water. Fire is needed in moderation to rekindle a mother’s digestion, but too much fire will burn up water and lead to excess air and space.
The Ayurvedic Food Pyramid of Tastes & Elements
The easiest way to tell which elements are present in a food is by the taste. All tastes are needed to sustain life, but bitter, astringent and pungent foods are only useful in very small quantities.
Sweet, the heaviest taste, is made up of water and earth, which is why it is at the bottom of the Ayurvedic food pyramid. Sour and salty foods are helpful in moderation, but too much fire can be drying.
You’ll probably notice yourself reaching for carbs after your baby is born. Try listening to your body instead of feeling guilty - there is a very good reason your body wants sweet foods right now.
As a Newborn Mother you need a lot of energy to breastfeed, recover from pregnancy and birth and cope with sleep deprivation. Sweet taste is the most nutritive of tastes; it builds the tissues and aids growth. Most importantly foods that taste sweet promote self-love, harmony and nurturing, and that’s what having a baby is all about. Sweet foods promote oxytocin because of that comforting, nourishing feeling we get when we taste them.
Sweet does not mean refined sugar, but fruits and vegetables, whole grains and calorie rich fats. If you satisfy your craving for sweets with nourishing fats and whole grains you hopefully won’t be reaching for so many packets of biscuits or chocolate bars.
Ayurveda teaches us that, like a newborn baby, a new mum has low digestive fire and high nutritional needs. Filling up on insoluble fibre leaves no room for the large amounts of nutrient and energy-dense foods you will need.
You are NOT what you eat. You are what you digest!
Modern nutrition looks at foods with Bunsen burners and microscopes to determine the vitamins, minerals and calories involved. However this does not take into account the complexity of the human body, and the different ways that different people digest different foods.
Ayurveda considers digestion the seat of all health, and that many more serious ailments begin with simple warning signs like constipation, gas, bloating or poor appetite. Nourishing Newborn Mothers emphasises foods that are easy to digest, and spices that improve your digestion.
Getting the energy you need is not simply a matter of eating more food – you must also digest the food you eat or it will become ama, a toxic build up in your body.
Putting It All Together
The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Soups, stews and puddings, good fats and good sugars will give you the energy you need, but to digest them you will need to add spices and keep meals simple and regular.
An Ayurvedic postpartum diet is like weaning a baby. Start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually, as your appetite and energy returns you can return to your regular diet.
Uplift Your Space
Many pregnant women spend a lot of their time preparing the baby’s nursery - but forget to prepare some beautiful and comfortable spaces for themselves!
You are going to spend many, many hours breastfeeding and rocking and cuddling and holding your sleeping baby in your arms. It’s so much more enjoyable when you have a beautiful and comfortable space.
There are many, many options and it’s a very personal choice. But make sure you spend some time sitting in the chair before you choose as some make you slouch. Given you will spend many hours in that chair it needs to support your posture.
Did you know that breastfeeding requires around double the amount of calories of pregnancy!? If you think you are hungry now, just wait! Make sure you have a water bottle and snacks nearby. Whilst fresh food is best, sometimes you won’t realise you are hungry until you sit down to feed, or you are stuck under a sleeping baby for hours. Prepare a tin of some long-lasting snacks ahead of time like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate or muesli bars.
And always have a water bottle within arm's reach.
The early days and weeks of breastfeeding can be painful. Cracked nipples, mastitis and afterbirth contractions can be exhausting, so have some pain relief nearby.
During the early weeks do a wee before you breastfeed as a full bladder can intensify the feeling of those after birth contractions.
A heat pack on your lower back or abdomen can be very comforting.
Over the counter painkillers, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are generally compatible with breastfeeding. Ask your midwife or pharmacist for local recommendations.
To help you cope with the postpartum recovery and boost lactation, you could sip on a cup of hot lactation tea made with spices from your kitchen. You would need fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds for this.
Alternatively you could use cumin and turmeric powder with fennel seeds.
While fenugreek/cumin boosts your milk supply and rekindles the digestive fire, fennel is cooling and turmeric is healing for your body and helps boost your immunity from within.
You can use this tea immediately after birth for 6-8 weeks. It's quite normal for your baby to start smelling of fenugreek if you overdo it!
- Mix two parts whole fennel seeds with one part whole fenugreek seeds. (Alternatively 1 part roasted cumin and half part turmeric powder)
- Store in a small airtight jar.
- Add half a teaspoon of tea to one litre of boiling water and sip warm throughout the day. If you don’t have a large thermos then just add a quarter of a teaspoon in a teapot and cover with two cups of boiling water and drink whilst still warm.
- Ideally, make the tea in a thermos in the morning and keep it by your feeding chair for up to six hours.
Enjoy and take good care of yourself, as a healthy moms bring up healthy babies!
*Special thanks to Julia Jones @ http://www.newbornmothers.com for her professional advice.