Ayurveda is an ancient system of health and well being, including but not limited to massage therapies, herbs, diet, exercise, lifestyle, and also meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga.
Ayurveda doctors, called vaidyas, use many methods of diagnosis, but the primary process includes doing a full physical and emotional assessment along with taking the pulse. During this fine-tuned procedure, vaidyas can analyze and pinpoint events in your life that have affected your system in different ways, giving rise to problems now showing up in your body. This junction of mind with body, and of the microcosm being a reflection of the macrocosm, is the domain of ayurveda.
The basic premise of ayurveda is that disease starts with the mind (including emotions, psychology, and mental state) and then, if not resolved and harmonized, proceeds to manifest in the body. Thus, the root of all imbalances is internal.
The important thing is to look within ourselves and evaluate how to bring ourselves back to balance, to equilibrium, and to our centre, after being bombarded with the daily demands of life: earning a living, taking care of family, juggling the many roles we play every day (not to mention the pollution and chemicals in air, water, and food that our bodies are exposed to).
How does ayurveda help women wanting to start a family?
Ayurveda teaches that the state of the woman’s body-mind complex determines her fertility, which in turn (along with her partner’s physical and mental health) influences the effectiveness of her conception and pregnancy. This impacts her ability to give birth easily and without complications, which has an effect on her postpartum period, the baby’s health, and family dynamics.
What truly makes ayurveda different is how it offers to help women (and men!) plan and support the process of having a family. [Editor’s note: these treatments and programs offer ways to enhance your childbearing experience, and are not being suggested as replacements for visiting your OBG-YN.]
Firstly, there is preconception cleansing. Given that 50 per cent of a child’s DNA input comes from each sex, ayurveda has a full protocol to prepare the parents-to-be before trying to conceive a baby, to help ensure the healthiest baby possible.
At Ayurveda Vancouver, this includes seeing a vaidya for a full assessment or pulse diagnosis to receive a personalized program to follow. This could involve:
- Strengthening and balancing ayurvedic herbs
- A series of oil massages and other treatments called panchakarma
- A diet and exercise plan
- Lifestyle recommendations
All of these are specific to the particular individual at that particular time. Stress-free living is the ideal place to conceive from, so getting into good habits helps bring one back to balance every day.
Ayurveda also acknowledges that the dynamics between the man and the woman at the time of conception help shape the personality of the baby. For this reason, preconception cleansing also includes looking at some questions about mutual intention, future plans and ideas, habits and patterns, and wishes and dreams for the couple, in order to clear the way for a supportive relationship in which to raise the child.
Once pregnancy has occurred, maintaining the pregnancy and meeting the needs of the embryo and mother-to-be is essential. Ayurveda offers various herbs, treatments, party suggestions (yes—to celebrate the five senses developing in the womb), and trimester and even monthly recommendations during the nine months. Regular visits with a vaidya are recommended during this time to keep abreast of developments in the growing fetus and mother, along with regular oil massages to nourish the growing body and changing mind of the mother. These check-ins with the vaidya and therapist during the pregnancy ensure good health (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and a comfortable transition. Ayurveda also offers insights for how the husband or partner can support the pregnant mother at this time.
Regular treatments of abhyanga (traditional warm oil massage), physical exercise, breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation throughout pregnancy help smooth the birth process.
Postpartum is often called the fourth trimester—generally it’s the first six weeks after birth. This is the trickiest stage of the whole process, and this is where ayurveda has a brilliant approach. Essentially the mother enjoys complete rest, a daily oil massage for herself and for her baby, and a delicious, nutritious diet that totally nourishes her and helps her body recover and reset. The vaidya plays a large role in helping set the diet and daily protocols in this stage. The father or partner also has specific roles to play, to help create routine and bonding with the newborn and support lactation.
All in all, ayurveda gives us a paradigm shift for the childbearing years. If followed, a more stress-free society can be built when families around the world adopt these keys to health.