June 21, 2014

Ayurvedic Techniques for Restoring the Energy of the Womb After Childbirth. ~ Suzanne Toro

Photo: Jure Gasparič/Pixoto

How do we rebalance our sacred womb after birth?

In India, the Ayurvedic System recommends the mother is cared for 42 days after the baby is born. This means the mother is given the support to rest, sleep, eat and get nourishment.

This window 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 women’s body a minimum of one to two years to fully recover from the birth experience. It can be longer if you are breastfeeding, became pregnant with another child or did not take the important steps to recover.

I want to share how important it is to take out 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. However, 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 with 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 and during the second and third time around.

Ask and you shall receive.

These are simple tips to assist in taking the time to bring your womb and home back into balance postpartum. Which will ultimately serve your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical self. One of the most important things to remember is your baby relies on you and just because they are 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.

In addition, if you never gave yourself this time and you have older children. I encourage you to carve out some nourishment time over the course of the next few years where you focus on regenerating your connection to yourself, your children and your womb. This will have a profound affect on you and your children. You can have fun with it taking a few hours, a night, a day or a weekend at a time.

Tips during the transition:

Addressing Forgetfulness (this seems to be common theme for all mothers).

This is a common sign of dispersed energy. Yin Energy (female): Warmth, oiliness, 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 less books on how to be a parent and take less advice from others that pressure on you having 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 us in rebuilding and maintaining our 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” (metal). Which will support the cycle of creation within all 5 elements.

Within the Ayurvedic system, these elements are present in the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) which are metabolic principles that indicate where we are in our out of balance in our mental, physical, emotional and/or spiritual being.

After childbirth and well into motherhood, our Vata needs the most balancing which is the combination of Air and Space…movement and change.

This is why you will want to focus on building earth, water and fire with mindfulness and support.

For the first six weeks to reduce and balance the ‘air’ and ‘space’ with:

  • Warm, moist, oily influences internally and externally…massage, ghee, essential oils and warm fluids. The mother should take frequent warm bath (not too hot) and begin a program of regular Abhyanga (oil massage).
  • Soothing, restful and integrating influences…calm people, create a peaceful environment that everyone can relax and rest in (we do not need to teach the baby and/or parents to sleep in loud conditions this is a deconstructive cycle and inhibits good sleeping habits).
  • Increase Sweet, Sour and Salty tastes and foods. Mother nature works beautifully especially if you are breast feeding. Naturally, you will find yourself craving these tastes. Have healthy choice at your finger tips for effortless and mindful consumption.
  • Support around the home. Create lists for others. Indicate how they can help. Do not hesitate to give everyone a task that offers. Again be direct and clear with what you want done. Everyone will feel happy to assist just as you request.
  • Play time…make time to connect with the baby in a joyful manner, sing, 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.
  • Nourishing self with mindfulness. Take the time to sit down and eat your food. Have ‘Dad’ and /or family member hold the baby while you eat. Avoid inhaling your food. Mindfulness. Yes, there will be moments where this cannot be avoided; however, start making good habits right now.

Nourish Self: More about food.

If you are breastfeeding it is really important to make sure you have good foods around you. If you spend a little more money to have this 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 6 weeks or more…except sweet fruits when desired
  • An organic, pure balanced diet, favoring fresh foods, include: sattvic (easy to digest) proteins, good cholesterol, and EFA 3 fats, green veggies, sweet root vegetables. Introduce dark leafies after 5-10 days. Sweet fruits, rice, wheat (if your are not intolerant), oats, and quinoa are less Vata increasing grains. Asparagus, beet, carrot, fresh dill, fresh fenugreek leaves (methi), summer squashes, pumpkin, avocado, artichoke, chayote and okra are healthy options. Some green beans or broccoli well seasoned if you are not of thin body type, and peeled eggplant, kale, spinach, or chard may also be fine properly seasoned; Be sure to use oiliness, seasonings, salt, and lime juice with leafy greens. Gently steam or saute.
  • Cream of rice or wheat is often cooked with generous ghee, iron rich sugar and special seasonings such as ginger, cardamon, clove, fennel, anise, black pepper, and some cinnamon are favored to support digestion. Cook grains with at least one extra part water (3 cups water to 1 cup basmati rice, for instance).  Thin into a long-cooked congee for first meals, if tongue is coated (sign of incomplete products of the ever significant digestion) for low/irregular appetite and digestion.
  • Women tend to need food about 5 times a day, plus often hot milk, hemp milk, rice milk or almond milk at bedtime. These milks will rejuvenate mother and baby when taken properly.
  • Roasted garlic, cooked in clarified butter till gently browned or baked to sweetness in the oven gives special grounding, immune, lactation, digestive support. Avoid raw, undercooked, marinated or dry garlic or onion, which is to sharp, promoting restless energy and possible gas.

“Indian grandmothers advise eating 30 pounds of ghee in 3 months demonstrate how serious we are about taking extra quantity of fats13 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 birthwork and collecting them from the tissues for easiest elimination thru lower digestive tract, and building hormones.”

~Dr. Jessie Mercay

  • Ginger is also known to assist with digestion and reduce pain and inflammation. Test each of these foods out to determine if you or baby have any sensitivities. For those who already have a history of food allergies, this is a sign of liver is not working properly and often some of these Ayurvedic and Chinese remedies can be very harmful. Keeping it simple and listening to you body. This will be the best path to take during the process of restoring balance to your entire self.
  • Seasonings: basil, a little black mustard seed, cumin, caraway, citrus peel, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, licorice powder. Fresh garlic…prepared only by mincing and browning in ghee, butter or sesame oil, ginger (fresh is often best, dry more drying and heating), pinches of hing (Asafoetida – instead of onion), lime, orange or lemon juice and peel, marjoram, nutmeg if you are not prone to constipation. A little black pepper, paprika, tamarind, tarragon, turmeric. ajwan (wild celery) seeds soaked first in cool water.

It is also noted that in many traditional cultures the “binding of the abdomen” after birth is still carried out.

Which leads me to sharing this recipe…

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

Post-Pregnancy Gruel: Sweet Version.

  • Any sweet whole grain porridge preparation (organic) could be oats, wheat, rice etc. should be sweet not too astringent.
  • Organic cow’s ghee.
  • Organic jaggery (must be organic as non organic jaggery must be avoided due to contamination) if not available use another whole sweetener like maple syrup or organic sugar (unrefined).
  • Cardamon, cinnamon, ginger
  • Dates.

The sweet gruel can be made with organic raw cow’s milk or with water as you prefer.

Post-Pregnancy Gruel: Salty Version.

  • Any sweet whole grain porridge preparation (organic) could be oats, wheat, rice etc. should be sweet not too astringent.
  • Organic cows ghee.
  • Little home made vata masala.
  • Rock salt.
  • Fresh coriander.
  • Pinch of pure saffron.

Keep the preparations watery.

The emphasis here is on bringing vata down, so taking sweet nourishing warm soupy porridge so she can gently restore to health. The birth of the infant takes much strength from you.

You must gradually restore back to full power. You must take maximum rest, keep warm, and keep her diet liquid, warm and unctuous.

These are just a few places to start. Rather than be overwhelmed with all the options and 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.

We are not all designed to digest all the spices and herbs recommended in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. With this being said take some deep breaths, listen and move slowly into motherhood, it is an evolving journey with yourself, your children and your partner.

Be gentle with everyone and you will find your way with a lot of courage, love, joy and inspiration along the way.

References: Shri Charaka Samhita


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Photo: Jure Gasparič/Pixoto

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