Ayurveda During Pregnancy: Optimizing Your Wellness
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
ayurveda during pregnancy, 3 doshas during pregnancy
We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
Laura Stavoe Harm.
Our ancestors have long believed that the act of creating life represents a reflection of divinity within human beings. Indeed, motherhood is the conscious choice to watch our hearts existing outside of our bodies. It is the most profound form of love, and in the time we spend planning and making room for a baby to fill our lives, it is vital to pay heed to each aspect that influences the little one’s health and overall development.
Nothing can compare to the feeling of being pregnant and making our bodies a home for the most glorious form of human lives. Whether you are expecting or trying to get pregnant, you have to do more than keep the external wheels of your family oiled and smooth.
Your health is crucial at this juncture, so the baby is born into a wholesome space. The spirit of your child will draw from your state of mind and wellness. In Ayurveda, textbooks such as Charak Samhita and Garbhini Vyakarana are manifestos explaining all the essential steps you must follow, not just during pregnancy but also before you get pregnant.
I like to look at Ayurveda as an intrinsic language of love. It teaches you to turn inward and pay attention to your senses and how they impact your day-to-day living. When it comes to pregnancy, let’s go deep into this nourishing world and look at what it can do for you and the little ones life is bringing your way.
Relying on Ayurveda during pregnancy brings physical, mental, and spiritual growth. The science behind this age-old practice upholds pregnancy in all of its natural glory and requests practitioners to turn to nature and inward for inspiration, faith, and courage. The three Ayurvedic doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha govern you and your child during each of the three trimesters. They will put you in touch with yourself and help you cater to your needs while you also nourish the new life you will bring to the world.
To fully use ayurveda during pregnancy, we must consider the connection between your doshas and your overall health. The Sanskrit word dosha is fundamental to Ayurveda, relating to something which might produce issues. It refers to three elements that are thought to be found in every human being.
Vata is the dosha of movement. When we think of ayurveda for pregnancy, this fits in naturally because your body is shifting rapidly as it makes space for the life budding inside you. In fact, all three doshas— Vata, Pitta, and Kapha will rise during pregnancy. The growth of the fetus, however, is at the heart of the pregnancy experience, and this brings us back to Vata.
Movement is beautiful, but if it is in excess, it can lead to anxiety and stress. Stress management, therefore, is essential. Ayurveda for pregnancy is rooted in the concept of living slowly and letting go. You don’t want your baby to be born into an anxious environment, right? So, there are simple changes you can implement in your exercise, diet, and spiritual practices to enhance the possibility of a fulfilling prenatal time.
The first and most apparent thing to balance the Vata dosha is to take care of what you eat. Ayurvedic nutrition during pregnancy means you turn to rich, unctuous food items with warm spices to pacify Vata. Soups, stews, and roasted veggies will give you a feeling of groundedness. During pregnancy, therefore, incorporate food items rich in life force and vitality, which is referred to as ojas.
Good items to include in the pregnancy diet include ghee (clarified butter), yogurt, butter, and buttermilk. Try warm buttermilk spiced with a bit of pink salt and pepper, for it soothes the soul and is such good nourishment! It will travel to the reproductive system and support your body as you prepare to create milk for your baby.
During our first trimester, we may need to be made aware of what is happening internally. Avoid excessive traveling and heavy exercise like high-impact cardio. Also, keep your schedule as light as you possibly can. You don’t have to stop moving, as a matter of fact, exercising is good for you. Try gentle activities like walking, jogging, and prenatal yoga that will keep you active without becoming a strain on your system. Grounding yoga poses like warrior pose, downward dog, mountain pose, and tree pose for stability.
Movements during the first trimester may elicit morning sickness and destabilizing feelings, but the Pitta dosha is likely to be most affected during the second trimester. This can lead to indigestion, emotional imbalance, and heartburn. During this time, it would be wise to employ techniques to pacify Pitta for cooling distress and balancing the fire within.
While you work to balance your doshas during pregnancy, remember that strong emotions are valid, and work on embracing and honoring each of them. By the end of your third month of pregnancy, the heart of the baby is a natural, living thing— which means you, in all the glory of humanity, are bearing two hearts in you! Ayurveda discerns that your baby can remember their past life during this phase. Given the intense spiritual experience, it is perfectly okay to feel strongly. Love what you are going through because this is your most authentic, happiest form.
During the second trimester, Ayurveda encourages you to honor your pregnancy cravings. Of course, take your health into account. Avoid scorching, spicy, fried, and acerbic food items if you have indigestion or heartburn. Choose cooling, nourishing foods such as cucumbers, coconut water, corn, watermelon, curd, bananas, and avocados. If you have no problems with lactose, high-quality ojas-filled milk is a great supplement for your body right now. You can also go for vegan variants, including oat milk and coconut milk. The latter is one of my personal favorites because of its nutty sweetness!
For exercise during this phase of pregnancy, I recommend restorative yoga. Try slow, long stretches to ease any agitation you may feel. At all times, make an effort to establish a connection with your inner spirituality. You could practice affirming mantras, connect with your inner sense of gratitude, and pray for the things you believe in. Remove focus from the transient materialistic things of life and speak to your soul and the child moving within you. If you’d like to go on a vacation, now is the time!
The third trimester is all about the Kapha dosha. In itself, Kapha represents a beautiful sense of groundedness that is optimal. However, if it is exacerbated, Kapha can leave you with a feeling of being limited and stuck, which, in turn, means you end up with a sense of resentment. This could be because, during this time, it becomes problematic since your movements are slow and pregnancy feels discomforting.
You may feel impatient and want to go against the tenets of what ayurveda suggests. Every time this happens, remember the baby is getting big, and you need to be more careful as the due date approaches. Incorporate gentle movement in your routine, so you don’t experience the sensation of being stuck.
Since you are growing and making a home for your baby inside you for many months, the digestive tract may be getting frustrated and experiencing irritation. Go for food items that are easy to digest, including boiled rice. Tofu, walnuts, eggs, sweet potatoes, and buttermilk are all wonderful options.
When it comes to pacifying the doshas, with particular reference to Kapha, this is the time to slow down. Don’t force crazy work deadlines on yourself. If you prefer twelve to fourteen-hour work days, evaluate the schedule and lessen the number of projects you are dealing with— it is all about you and your baby now.
While slowing down, prioritize rest and engage in relaxing yoga postures. Practice pregnancy exercises that will open the heart and relieve tension in the back and neck. Gentle, brisk walking is great and will keep you healthy and light without adding unnecessary strain to your muscles.
Prenatal ayurveda is all about tuning in to your senses and enjoying the experience that will lead to you giving birth. You become a mother the moment life stirs inside you. An instinct is born, a protective fire telling you that from here on, you will always have room for not one but two or more people. Your life breaks into different components, each with significance and importance. In the same breath, prenatal ayurveda asks that you avoid some things for balancing the doshas. These include:
Fasting and overeating.
Stale, dry, fermented, fried, extremely spicy food items. Try to steer clear of alcoholic beverages.
Sleeping during the day, since this will interfere with your circadian rhythm.
Listening to things that will give rise to anger, sorrow, horror, and agony.
Traveling for extended periods in constrained places like a car or aircraft or through excessively rough terrain.
Lifting heavy things or performing positions that strain your abdomen and back.
Preventing natural urges like hunger, yawning, sleep, crying, and elimination unless an emergency requires some form of restraint.
If, at any point in time, you experience morning sickness, roast cardamom seeds and grind them into a powder. You can eat small pinches of this throughout the day. You can also make and sip on a tea comprising ¼ teaspoon of ginger powder and fennel seeds brewed in hot water. Don’t drink this concoction when it is boiling hot. Wait till it cools down a little, and then sip on it.
Abhyanga, an ayurvedic therapeutic massaging led by bathing in lukewarm water, is a beautiful prenatal ayurveda practice for you and your baby. From the sixth month of pregnancy, regular abhyanga can help induce easier labor. Therapies like belly, head, and foot massages can relax the nervous system. You could also contact an ayurvedic specialist for more details on invigorating massages.
Try to get enough sleep, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy. Your body is experiencing a period of growth on all levels at the moment: emotional, physical, and spiritual. This would be if there were ever a moment to be more mindful of your physical requirements. Stay balanced and happy, mama!
For more information on Ayurveda during pregnancy and ayurveda tips for pregnancy, please join us in our 85-Hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (RPYT). This training is good for anyone who wants to become a prenatal yoga teacher.