Pregnancy is a beautiful milestone in the journey of womanhood and being a mother is the greatest moment in the life of a woman. Motherhood is precious, more than even the most precious diamonds and no amount of money can buy it. It is so valued and only a woman gets to experience this heavenly feeling. A child from the stage of a zygote grows up to be a full human baby and all this happens in a woman’s body in a span of just nine months. This article by Dr. Madhavi H. Rabadia talks about how Ayurveda helps to prepare a mother through pregnancy and finally to birth.
Pregnancy brings enormous changes in a woman’s life. In today’s world where infertility is the buzz word, the good news of conception leaves all spell-bound. The mother-to-be is joyful beyond words on hearing the good news. The development of the fetus brings in changes in her physical and mental health, in a number of ways. While carrying the child in her womb, she learns many things regarding pregnancy. In Ayurveda, foetal development is described comprehensively. Health problems pertaining to the mother, and the child in her womb, as well as dietary recommendations find prominent place in a number of Ayurveda texts.
Couples who wish for just two children get pregnant by choice and not by chance. Data reveals that the increased rate of congenital malformation and genetic disorders in present days are due to custom like marriages are between close relatives, lack of knowledge of dietetics and lifestyle to be followed by couples wanting to get pregnant and negligence of antenatal care. Medical science today is really worried about the increasing rate of defects in the new born which is posing a huge threat to a healthy society. In Ayurveda, preparatory measures for procreating excellent progeny are described in two phases like (a) preconception measures (b) care during pregnancy.
Method of impregnation: For a healthy progeny, the preparations have to be done days before conception. Following points should be considered for conception.
Appropriate age for conception
A woman of sixteen years and a man of twenty five years are said to be ideal for conception. Though the woman is physically just mature at sixteen years, she is mentally not mature for conception. Hence the best age of both physical and mental maturity for a women is between twenty four to thirty seven years of age. So, it is good for a women to have her first child at the age of twenty four.
Contraindicated age for conception
Very young or old women should not be impregnated. If a women below sixteen is impregnated by a man of below twenty five, either she will not conceive, or if at all conceives, she will have chances of an intra-uterine death of fetus; if the child is born, it will not live long or will have weak organs and or any congenital abnormalities etc.
Contraindicated conditions for coitus
Care should be taken while performing coitus. Coitus should not be done when either the man or the woman have an over eating disorder, hunger, thirst, chronically ill, anger, grief, fear, terror etc. It is observed that these types of women either do not conceive or if conceived the child born suffers from teratological abnormalities.
Ayurveda also advise that coitus should not be done on days of a meteoric fall, solar or lunar eclipse or other bad days.
Dietetics and lifestyle for healthy progeny
Initially the body of the couples should be purified by Vamana, Virechana and Basti. Coitus should be performed only four days after menstruation and after a bath. Also, coitus should be done on even or odd days of menstrual cycle for son or daughter respectively. The husband should use the ghrita and milk medicated with madhura drugs because such drugs promote the quality of semen. Wife should consume the oil and black gram (masha) which increase the quality of Streebeeja.
During coitus, the couple should think of the person of whom they want their child to be like. The child who is born in the subsequent coitus is likely to inherit the characters of this person. Also, before coitus the couple should create a pleasant environment, wear clothes, ornaments, perform religious rites as per one’s belief and constantly think of those persons and places,the characters of whom they want in their child.
(b) Care during pregnancy
Dietetics recommended according to Ayurveda
- Diet should be wholesome, congenial and freshly cooked.
- She should take palatable diet, liquid or semi-solid diet. Sweet food articles, unctuous food articles and food articles treated with appetizing drugs should be avoided at all costs. Such type of diet prevents the vitiation of Vata which is the main causative factor for intra-uterine growth retardation and many congenital abnormalities.
- Pregnant women should consume food with attention and with affection towards the foetus.
- She should always use ghee, butter and milk in her diet.
- She should take the diet according to her digestive capacity, season and the place of living.
|Month wise diet
Milk boiled with gold or silver
|2nd month||Medicated milk with sweet herbs like Shatavari, Kakoli etc.|
|3rd month||Milk with honey and ghee, olio prepared with rice and pulses|
|4th month||Medicated and cooked rice with milk with butter|
|5th month||Rice gruel, sweet rice, cooked rice with meat|
|6th month||Sweet curd, rice with ghrita|
|7th month||Ghritakanda, ghee with Vidarigandha group|
|8th month||Rice gruel with milk andghrita, meat soup|
|9th month||Meat soup with cooked rice gruel with ghee.|
Do’s and Don’ts for a pregnant women
- She should remain in high spirit. She should make an attempt to cope up with mood swings.
- She should maintain personal hygiene and reside in a place that is fumigated with Commiphora mukul (Guggulu), Aquilaria agallocha (Agaru), Mustard (Sarshap) etc. These drugs are known to purify the surrounding air and keep it free from insects, pests and other contiguous diseases.
- She should dress appropriately giving more priority to white or light coloured clothes that sets a cheerful mood which is good for fetal development.
- She should wear clean garments and decorate herself with ornaments.
- She should perform religious and auspicious deeds, acts and worships. She should donate either money or some goods. This generates proper energy to the foetus.
- Her sleeping and sitting place should be covered by soft cushions that make her comfortable.
- She should avoid excessive physical exercise and regular coitus.
- She should also avoid carrying heavy objects or riding vehicles, sleeping or sitting in an abnormal posture, sedentary lifestyle, suppression of normal urges like flatus, erectation etc., and also awakening in between sleep.
- She should keep away from grief, fear, anger, terror etc.,
Punsavan sanskara is the 2ndsanskara out of 16 sanskara’s. The aim of this sanskara is to direct the foetus towards the righteous path so that the coming generation can move forward with positive thoughts. Science has proven that mother, family and social environment has intense effect on the foetus. Foetus has the ability to hear, to learn, to taste and to develop memory. It is also known that the personality development also takes place within the womb. Foetus also constantly reactsto outer stimuli.
Fetal Development In Ayurveda – According to Ayurveda, the gradual and proper development of foetus is most important for the child’s health. The development of foetus depends totally on the mother’s health. During the crucial stages of foetal development, it is said that a woman needs to have a sound mind and be in good physical condition. Everything a mother experiences – pleasant thoughts or a negative ones – has a direct influence on the fetal development. The recurring anxieties of the mother about pregnancy are unknowingly passed onto the unborn child. One should never underestimate the power of transferring these emotions into the make-up of the unborn child. As per Ayurveda, the pregnant women should indulge only in gentle leisure activities for relaxation and calmness. This will help her develop stable child both physically and mentally. She should avoid situations that create anger and frustration, circumstances that provoke unnecessary stress and tensions in the body. This science of life also suggests that pregnant women should avoid habits, which are not beneficial for her health, because such habits directly affect the growth of the child. The growing fetus gets all the nutrition from the umbilical cord connected to it, which in turn is attached to the rasvaha nadi (maternal part of the placenta) of the mother. This way, the nutrition is indirectly supplied to the fetus. From the time of conception until the zygote is attached to uterus, the nutrition depends on the nutritive parts carried by sperms and ovum. Charak, one of the renowned Ayurvedic texts, says that the fetus obtains its nourishment from rasa that is supplied by mother. The nourishment of the fetus depends upon all the six factors of conception, use of appropriate diet and lifestyle of the pregnant woman. Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe herbal concoction of three to four herbs, for the mother, to consume during each month of pregnancy. The combination of the herbs is different for every month and may also depend on the physical health of the pregnant woman as well. The herbs are generally prescribed for the physical and mental development of the fetus as well as to ensure good health of the mother-to-be. One of the most common herbal medicines is Sida retusa, which serves as a single drug recommended throughout pregnancy. While consuming any such drug, it is suggested to take advice of an authorized Ayurvedic practitioner.
According to the religious texts in Ayurveda, the belief is clear that the sex of the child is subject to change with the punsavan ceremony. However, modern science disagrees with this aspect of the punsavan ceremony and confirms that the sex of the baby is decided at the time of conception and that the chromosomes are responsible for the child’s gender.
A new wave of research suggests that the foetus can feel, dream, even enjoy in the mother’s womb. As if overturning the common conception of infancy weren’t enough, scientists are creating a startling new picture of an intelligent life in the womb. Among the revelations: By nine weeks, a developing foetus can hiccup and react to loud noises. By the end of the second trimester it can hear and distinguish the mother’s voice. Foetus can store different things in their memory. The foetus experiences the rapid eye movement (REM) and dreams just like adults. The foetus savours its mother’s meals thus first picking up the tastes of food, a culture started in the womb. Among other mental feats, the foetus can distinguish between the voice of mom and that of a stranger, and respond to a familiar story read to it. Just because the foetus is responsive to certain stimuli doesn’t mean that it should be the target of efforts to enhance development. Sensory stimulation of the foetus can in fact lead to bizarre patterns of adaptation later on.
In Punsavan sanskara, pregnant woman should smell or get drunk by the grinded ultra soft part of roots of banyan tree (vata- is the symbol of vastness, stability, strength), one slice of Tinospora/ guduchi (giloy– Disease prevention, Invigorating.), and soft strips of poplar leaved tree (pīpal- symbol of divinity). These three drugs boosts the health of the pregnant mother and increases the immunity of both the mother and the child. Complaints of indigestion, vomiting, lethargy, headache, sleeplessness, waist pains are common during pregnancy.
Madhavi H. Rabadia
Lecturer Dept. Dravyaguna,
Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences,
Gujarat Ayured University,