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The First 42 Days - What does Ayurvedic Postpartum Care Look Like?

January 12, 2018

 

I want to spend a moment to share a brief overview of what ayurvedic postpartum care looks like. Ideally, those of you reading this will be able to receive the care (or share the care) in some manner.  Many chose to hire a professional (an Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula) to come to your home through the first 6 weeks, and others may share this guidance with those that surround you after birth such as your partner, your family or friends that have offered their time.

 

First, what is ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the science of life and explains the unique nature of each individual. It is a system for managing your lifestyle based on your distinctive dosha type and environment.  Doshas are the forces within us governing biological, psychological and physiological functions. When considering pregnancy and postpartum, philosophy and guidance is given to influence the health and recovery of mother and baby after birth. With this support complete bonding of the two can take place.

 

Ayurveda says that by receiving care in the first six weeks after birth, patterns are set up for mother and baby that last a lifetime. It can even benefit unborn generations. Stresses of any kind on new mama or baby can create congestion in the body, causing emotional and physical long-term impact. According to Ayurveda, the way that the first 42 days after delivery are spent impact the next 42 years of life.  

 

There are many obstacles (physically, mentally, emotionally) that a new mother faces following birth. Ayurveda shows up with physical supports which the mental state of the new mama tends to respond quite quickly to. This support includes dietary, lifestyle, herbal foods and teas, and sometimes (when working with a professional) personalized herbal formulations.

 

Self-care

After delivery, a mother’s body has much healing to do while in a state of great exhaustion, emotional openness and vulnerability. This is true for the new baby that has just arrived as well. The first few days spent together are the most important. Here is where rejuvenative care begins. As an overview of what that care looks like, it can be described as self-care. The key here is that this self-care that ayurveda emphasizes as a foundation of treatment in most cases is made available to new mother and baby through the support of others. That is whoever happens to be at their side in these first days together. Both mom and baby need to feel nourished, safe and in a quiet space where they are able to rest deeply and most importantly bond with one another.

 

Grounded, Strong, Clear

In the first 3 days everything around the house is taken care of for mom and baby. That includes healing ayurvedic food preparation, diaper changing, laundry and other household chores. These things are taken care of by whoever it is that is there to help. I had a client that said after a very long and hard labor she felt nothing but sheer exhaustion after her baby was delivered. She felt like she had missed out on the connection that you always hear about that happens immediately between new mom and baby. She openly shared with me through many tears that she did not feel bonded with her new baby when she first arrived. And then slowly over the first few days together it happened, little by little, each day as she was able to rest and heal. I knew from what she was telling me that she was feeling more and more grounded, strong and connected with her new baby, and I could sense it in the baby also. Mothers and babies thrive and the deep bonding happens when this care when its practiced properly.

 

Rest, Nourish, Touch

Through the ayurvedic approach of care, in the postpartum period there are three treatments that are most important in mothering the new mother. The first is rest. As the new mama restores her strength, she at the same time is sharing all of her energy (and then some, often) with making sure her new little one is comfortable, safe, and being thoroughly nourished. Sleep and deep rest are among the best ways to restore the mothers health and strength, or ayurvedically balance her doshic state. It is the support that surrounds mother by others that allows her to rest deeply and as much as possible. This is where “sleep when the baby sleeps” becomes possible.

 

Proper specialized nourishment for the new mother is also very important in the first 42 days. Diet can accomplish so much when it comes to rebuilding digestive strength, restoring ojas (immunity and life vitality) and of course provide all of the nutrients necessary in making sure baby gets nourishment needed through breastfeeding. I've created a list below to make the basics available to readers. 

 

First 6 Weeks After Delivery - Diet Highlights

  • Favor warm foods and drinks. Warm tea should always be replenished so that mama is getting an 8-10 ounce refill after each time she nurses.

  • Use ghee (clarified butter) with each meal. **Unless recovering from surgical delivery, in that case wait to add the extra ghee to your diet after incision has healed.

  • Make sure each meal is light, freshly prepared, moist and soupy.

  • For example, oatmeal porridge for breakfast cooked with 1 tbsp of ghee cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and raisins (for iron). Alongside warm nettle leaf tea.

 

First 6 Weeks After Delivery - Key Ingredients

  • Iron rich fruits - Nettle tea, spinach or other dark leafy greens, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, raisins, prunes, black mission figs, apricots, cherries, blackstrap molasses, beets, and kidney beans. Animal protein sources of iron are best added after digestion is fully restored, which may take a few weeks.

  • Ojas building foods - warm milk (organic whole cows milk is best), ghee, slow cooked rice, raisins, dates, almonds, grapes, figs, avocados, mangos, coconut. Visit my delicious