In India, the Ayurvedic outlook towards motherhood is that pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period are parts of a holistic experience. In this post, we take a brief look at the postpartum (or postnatal) period.
The general Ayurveda recommendations for the postpartum period cover various aspects such as a dietary regime (including a herbal regime), specific behavior, certain activities and restorative treatments, and spiritual actions.
The first three months after childbirth are seen as very important as this is the period in which the mother needs to get back to her previous physical fitness and – if she will breastfeed – needs to have proper lactation to nurse her newborn baby.
It’s the period where the enlarged uterus shrinks back to normal position, and ligaments, muscles and tendons associated with the uterus start regaining their force. In general, it’s a time of regaining strength and vitality.
Traditionally, the mother is taken care of by several women who provide specific food, herbs, massage, and other practices.
The immediate postnatal confinement period in India is called Sutika Kala. The duration of this period is about forty-two to forty-five days (six weeks). The mother who has just given birth is named Sutika in Ayurveda, and the care provided is labeled Sutika Paricharya. Postnatal care or Sutika Paricharya is of great importance for a mother to restore her pre-pregnancy health and condition.
During this period, the mother needs to regain her lost energy and mental strength, and bring the imbalanced Doshas back to normalcy.
Specific food and drinks are important and a special diet is prescribed to restore the loss of reproductive fluids and blood. Food should be light as well as nourishing.
Specific aims of Ayurvedic postnatal care are restoration of Agni or Digestive Fire, normalization of the Vata quality, optimization of breast milk quality, avoiding physical exertion, having a light diet, oil massages, preventing back aches and loss of appetite, natural urges should not be suppressed, avoiding loud speech, and getting plenty of rest.
- Abhyanga full body oil massage is applied to strengthen the lower back, hip area, joints, muscles and tendons;
- Foot Massages;
- Head Massages;
- Avagaha Sveda Sitz Bath with water boiled with Nalpamaradi Patta oil;
- Abdominal Care and Binding or Udara Veshtanam;
- Udarmardana (Abdominal Massage);
- Complete Fumigation (Tent Steaming e.g. Sweat Lodge);
- Vaginal Fumigation (Yoni Dhoopan).