Curious about how to use Ayurvedic wellness practices to enhance and support your postpartum recovery experience? This article covers what to know before giving birth.
As a trained birth doula and Ayurvedic health practitioner, I had never learned of or heard of the sacred window from my mother, women, or anyone until I studied the ancient practices of Ayurveda and learned the history of childbirth through my doula training.
In Ayurveda, the saying goes, “42 days for 42 years”; this means the first six weeks are imperative for bonding with your new baby and deep healing for a lifetime of vitality, strength, and wellness for you.
Our society has created a “bounce-back” culture and often a culture where due to money and obligations, women are re-entering life as usual much before healing and bonding with their baby can occur.
Taking time to plan your postpartum phase is paramount to your health and not an indulgence but a necessity.
At-a-glance: postpartum Vata dosha imbalance
When we turn to the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, pregnancy and childbirth create a Vata dosha imbalance. Vata dosha is characterized by the air and space elements; the qualities of Vata are rough, dry, mobile, and light.
In Ayurveda, the principle of “like increases like, the opposites decrease each other” is a guiding principle as we bring balance back to mind, body, and spirit.
We can think of this vata imbalance quite literally as we are “full” when pregnant; the low energy of Vata brings our baby to us, and after, our body is empty and full of space. This space creates lots of room for air to move, so vata becomes imbalanced.
Vata imbalances can manifest in:
- Anxiety or anxious feelings
- Hair loss
- Dryness of the physical internal body and external skin
- Constipation or indigestion
- Feelings of isolation
- Baby blues
We can re-balance vata after birth through proper diet, rest, and self-care practices such as abhyanga (warm oil massages), aromatherapy, and healing postpartum herbs/teas, among others.
Using Ayurvedic principles for your postpartum healing
The sacred window phase can be a time of maximum rejuvenation, potentially the most fulfilling time of a woman’s life.
Embracing a new way of life and identity post-childbirth is multi-faceted and challenging in various ways; we need multiple practices in our repertoire, including pranayama, yoga, Ayurvedic daily routines, and diet, aromatherapy, and adequate time for relaxation and deep rest.
While this “ideal” certainly isn’t a reality for most families, you can incorporate bits and pieces of this practice into your daily life for more support and healing.
The main focuses of Ayurveda are to heal, prevent, and maintain, which is the goal during the sacred window as well: to heal during post-delivery and from birth, to prevent health issues in the future, and to maintain balance through a time of rapid hormonal, and physical, emotional and mental changes in the women’s life.
The pillars of Ayurvedic nutrition are:
- Ahara (diet)
- Asana (yoga/meditation)
- Pranayama (breath)
- Nidra (sleep)
These categories combine to create wellness in one’s body, mind, and spirit. We address these pillars by creating dinacharya, or daily routine, to provide a grounding anchor for the nervous system.
During the postpartum phase, however, routine is not always an option. During this phase, the focus should be on creating a warm, soft, gentle environment with rest that can occur in the in-between moments throughout the day.
Any additional stimulus such as loud tv, social media, screens, excessive noise, or an overabundance of guests should be eliminated or avoided as much as possible.
Read next: New Baby? Six Tips for Setting Boundaries with Family
Stay warm in body and mind; with warm robes and socks, something warm to sip on throughout the day, and a daily warming massage after showering.
Although routine may not seem possible, we can find routine by removing anything extra or unnecessary during this time, so the focus is on rest, healing, and bonding with your baby.
Five ways to prepare for postpartum using Ayurveda
1. Plan your meals and meal prep in advance
After birth and in the coming weeks, all food you consume should be warm and easy to digest.
Think iron-rich beet soups, veggie or bone broths, cooking with ghee, grounding vegetable soups like butternut squash, and nourishing herbal teas like the Alevan Botanica Postpartum Mama Tea.
Foods to limit or avoid entirely include anything dry (dried fruit, chips, crackers), raw-like salads, cold food or beverages, heavy foods like dairy and meat, cold milk, tomatoes, and other acidic nightshades, coffee, and alcohol.
Make batches of soup or broth to freeze, stock up on pantry essentials, and make weekly fresh product grocery lists in advance.
If meal prepping overwhelms you, organic postpartum meal delivery companies like Mama Meals focus on Ayurvedic principles to support the postpartum mother.
2. Set boundaries with friends and family
As a new mother, your main objectives are to rest and heal while nurturing and building a connection with your new baby. If you choose to have family or friends visit, set time limits or have a task in mind that they can help you with while visiting.
Read next: The Best Newborn “No Visitors” Signs After Birth (And Why They’re Great)
This is not the time to be hosting and caring for others (besides your new baby, of course!) Really take this special time to bond, rest, and heal, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.
3. Daily self-massage
Whether this is a full body massage when you can spare the time, also known as abhyanga, or simply a quick 5-minute foot massage before bed, you will notice the effects.
Add an organic carrier oil, such as jojoba, with a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil blend. It is helpful for relaxation and so important to keep our skin hydrated as dryness is a trait of Vata imbalance.
Read next: Watch Now: A Guide to Postpartum Self-Massage at Home
4. Use aromatherapy to balance your emotions
Postpartum often means not a lot of time to have luxurious rituals because any you have is hopefully spent resting. Try incorporating essential oils into your routine to balance body, mind, and soul.
Organic citrus essential oils, such as sweet orange and bergamot, are uplifting, helpful for anxiety, stress, or restlessness, and great to diffuse during the day.
5. Adjust, but keep a daily routine
As a new mom, our dinacharya, or daily routine, changes vastly and, unfortunately, can sometimes disappear. That does not have to be the case.
What is important during this time is carving out small moments throughout your day, even minutes here and there, to meditate or focus on your breath, rest if needed, journal, or anything else that helps you feel stable, grounded, and calm.
It is also important to eat at regular intervals, never skipping meals, as that will keep a Vata imbalance going, and prioritize rest whenever you can.
Final thoughts on ayurveda and postpartum care
Finding ritual and routine does not have to be over the top or complex in this crazy time of life, with many things occurring simultaneously in the body, mind, and space.
Find and use support if you have it; otherwise, prepare the best you can before your baby arrives.
My own Ayurvedic teacher once told me that our daily morning and evening rituals can be five minutes or three hours, which is of little importance compared to consistency: small, non-overwhelming steps each and every day on the motherhood and life journey.
Both Ayurveda and aromatherapy complement each other in so many ways, including a focus on internal and mental healing, physical healing or maintenance of physical health, as well as a connection to our emotions and a presence or mindfulness to carry forth in all of our obligations, activities, and relationships.
The benefits of Ayurveda and aromatherapy during the postpartum period allow for this transition time to be mindful and intentional as you begin your journey of motherhood.
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Alexa is the founder of Alevan Botanica, an Ayurvedic Health Coach, aromatherapist and yoga teacher. Her journey to finding her path in the wellness space is a personal one; she spent over 6 years working in high-stress, unfulfilling jobs in several metropolitan cities while watching her mental and physical health deteriorate; she left her career path to devote herself to natural wellness through the mediums of yoga, Ayurvedic nutrition and aromatherapy. Her company, Alevan Botanica is a holistic wellness brand rooted in aromatherapy and Ayurveda, offering both products and services.