Sunday, March 20, 2016

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1. First Month Of Pregnancy

It is recommended for female partner during 1st month of pregnancy. It improves the viscosity of uterine mucous membrane, nourishes ovum and imparts antioxidant effect to support fertilization. Recommended for healthy fertilization and toning the uterine physiology. It should be initiated as soon as the couple decides to conceive and to be continued till the confirmation of pregnancy. This period may vary from a month or two months or seldom more depending on the health history of the partners. First is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage : 2 - 2 tablets twice daily with a sip of milk, before meals, till confirmation of pregnancy.

Price : 2000/- For a Month

2. Second Month Of Pregnancy

Second Month is recommended for female partner during 2nd month of pregnancy. It provides Folic acid from natural source and prevents bleeding tendencies. Attains proper closure of Neural tube and uplifts the levels of Gonadotropic hormones resulting in healthy gestation. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage : 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a sip of milk, before meals. Recommended from 5th to 8th weeks of pregnancy.

Price : 2000/- For a Month

3. Third Month Of Pregnancy

Third Month  is recommended for female partner during 3rd month of pregnancy. Its a balanced composition of Vitamins A, B 1, B 2, C, E, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Calcium etc from natural herbal flora. Some excretory waste material is formed during the process of foetal metabolism. The diuretics in this formula help to eliminate them via maternal renal outflow. It keeps check on Gestational diabetes and symptoms of morning sickness leading to excellent foetal nutrition. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.
Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a sip of milk, before meals. Recommended from 9th to 12th weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

4. Forth Month of Pregnancy

Forth Month  is recommended for female partner during 4th month of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes and hypertension are very common in this phase. Owing to mild hypoglycemic, supreme antioxidant and the property of supporting stream of immunoglobulins, the composition benefits foetal nourishment and maternal care both. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a sip of milk, before meals. Recommended from 13th to 16th weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

5. Fifth Month of Pregnancy

Fifth Month is recommended for female partner during 5th month of pregnancy. The herbs prevent backache, helps treating pregnancy hemorrhoids, stimulate the hepatic and splenic function to activate the formation of blood cells. Presence of natural Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Zinc impart added benefits. Protect from bacterial infections too. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a sip of milk, before meals. Recommended from 17th to 20th weeks of pregnancy.

 M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

6. Sixth Month of Pregnancy

Sixth Month is recommended for female partner during 6th month of pregnancy. Mild diuretics along with Calcium, Iron, Proteins, Copper in this formula drains the oedema of lower limbs, keeps check on blood pressure and thereby prevents the after effects on heart. Backache and lumbar pain is common due to the foetal weight gain which is managed by the herbs within this composition. The antioxidant herbs in this formula protect vital organs and systems in the body. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a sip of milk, before meals. Recommended from 21st to 24th weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

7. Seventh Month of Pregnancy

Seventh Month is recommended for female partner during 7th month of pregnancy. Ojas is unstable in forthcoming phase of pregnancy. Hence requirement of Progesterone is maximum at this stage. Kaseru, a prominent ingredient in this formula is the richest source of natural progesterone. It is further fortified with antioxidants like Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, B 1, B 6, C assures prevention of free radical onslaught achieving proper balance of endocrine glands. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a glass of milk, before meals. Recommended from 25th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

8. Eight Month of Pregnancy

Eight Month is recommended for female partner during 8th month of pregnancy. The herbs in this formula posses various organic sugars like Maltose, Inositol etc. to nurture the foetus. They also contain several amino acids and clinically effective regimens to improve hepatic, renal, cardiac, lung and musculoskeletal function. AshtaMaah strengthens uterine musculature, improves lactation and has vital antioxidants. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a glassful of milk or processed with milk, before meals. Recommended from 29th to 32nd weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

9. Nine Month of Pregnancy

Nine Month is recommended for female partner during 9th month of pregnancy. This formula collectively strengthens the uterine musculature, improves wound healing mechanism, stimulates lactation profile and imparts soothing and lubricating property in the delivery passage. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a glassful of milk or processed with milk, before meals. Recommended from 33rd to 36th weeks of pregnancy.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

10. Ten Month of Pregnancy

Ten Month  is recommended for female partner during 10th month of pregnancy. This is the last phase in gestation. The composition has anti-adhesion, wound healing, antibacterial properties and helps to remove amniotic fluid from the respiratory passage of an infant. It also eliminates excess of Urea, Uric acid and Creatinine to keep mother's health at its best. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.
Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a glassful of milk or processed with milk, before meals. Recommended from 37th to 40th weeks of pregnancy or till the delivery.

 M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month 


 For The Betterment of Breast Milk

This is a well-balanced herbal composition for qualitative and quantitative betterment of the breast milk. It is recommended for mother immediately after the delivery. Except for air for breathing, the newborn is still dependent on mother. Hence it is equally important to continue maternal nutrition, which should benefit both mother and infant. It is safe, time tested and made exclusively from herbal ingredients.

Dosage: 2 - 2 tablets twice daily, with a glassful of milk, after meals. Recommended during postpartum period for minimum 6 months or till the mother continues breast feeding.

M.R.P. : Rs. 2000/- Per Month

Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Promoting the Health of Mother and Baby During Pregnancy Using Ayurveda

Pregnancy is a happy and joyous time of life for many women. It can also be a challenging time of life as tbe mother's body goes through numerous changes in order to create and support the development of a new life. Ayurveda is an excellent addition to the care provided by medical doctors and midwives. Ayurveda creates support for the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual bodies of the mother and her baby.

This paper is written for Ayurvedic practitioners, alternative care practitioners, mothers and fathers-to-be, and other people who already have some basic knowledge of Ayurveda and who want to apply and broaden that knowledge to include care during pregnancy.  Topics covered within the paper include modern references and classical texts.
Several of the books referenced include much more information on this topic than is covered in this paper and readers are encouraged to seek out those sources.

Promoting the Health of Mother and Baby During Pregnancy Using Ayurveda begins with a month by month description of developments during pregnancy. Itthen covers the topics of apana vata, nutrition, tbe daily routine, yoga asana, meditation, happiness, challenges, herbs as well as herb examples and herb research, treatments, classical month by month regimens, Indian herbal ghees, Sanskrit terms for pregnancy, and preparing for the baby.

Month by Month Description of Pregnancy using Classical Texts and Modem Research

Month 1: The embryo takes the form of ajelly.  A gelatinous substance is formed. The zygote begins to divide immediately after conception. Itthen travels down the fallopian tube and embeds in tbe thick lining of the womb where it links up with the mother's blood vessels.' Fertilization and implantation into the uterine wall occur. The baby's brain, heart and spinal cord begin to form. Baby is 1/25th of an inch long.

Month 2: The embryo takes the form of a knot (a male), an elongated muscle (a female), or a tumour (a eunuch).' The molecules of air, fire, earth, water and ether are acted upon by pitta, vata, and kapha - an elongated shape indicates a female, a lump-like appearance indicates a male and a tumour-like shape indicates an absence of sex. The embryo floats in a fluid-filled sac; it has a simple brain, spine and central nervous system. The digestive and respiratory systems are beginning to develop.  The baby's heart begins to beat, the neural tube along the baby's back closes, the umbilical cord appears, and the fingers and toes form. Baby is Y.inch long.

Month 3: All senses and limbs as well as their organs appear. Lumps appear that will form the hands, legs and head. The fetus has all the sense organs as well as completely formed limbs including fingers and toes. The heart starts beating and circulates blood.  Movement begins, neurons multiply, sex may be apparent, and fingernails and toenails appear. Baby is 3 inches long and weighs 4/5 of an ounce.

Month 4: The mother feels excess heaviness in her body due to the stabilization of the fetus. All limbs and organs become more distinct; viscus of the heart allows consciousness to form. Desires of the heart are thus made manifest to the mother and must be followed so that the baby is not born deformed.  The fetus has a neck as well as joints in the arms and legs. The hard bones begin to develop.  The baby flexes and kicks, hormone effects are apparent, skin begins to form and facial expressions are possible.  Baby is 4 to 5 inches long and weighs just less than 3 ounces.

Month 5: There is an increase in flesh and blood of the fetus; the mother may get thinner.   The fetus gains the mind (manah) and wakes up from its sleep of sub-conscious existence.1 The fetus is quite active, kicking and turning.  The sex organs are visible and there is a fine, hairy covering called a lanugo that has developed. Fat stores begin to develop, the baby begins to hear, movement begins to happen, urine is produced and eyebrows appear. Baby is 6 inches long and weighs about 9 ounces.

Month 6: There is an increase in strength and complexion of the fetus; the mother may lose her strength and complexion.Cognition (buddhz) enters the fetus. The fetus straightens out and becomes erect.  A grayish-white, cheesy coating called vernix covers the skin. Sweat glands form. Bone marrow begins producing blood cells, taste buds develop, practice breathing occurs as amniotic fluid moves into and out of the lungs, a regular sleeping and waking cycle appears, and foo1prints and fingerprints form. Baby weighs 1 2 pounds.

Month 7: There is an all around development in the fetus; the mother may become deficient in all aspects of her health. All limbs and members of the body are developed. Fat starts to accumulate under the skin and the brain develops dramatically. The baby can suck its thumb and respond with facial features to different tastes. Eyes can open and close, it's movements are forceful, and hiccups can be experienced.  Baby weighs 3 to 4 pounds.

Month 8: Ojas moves back and forth between mother and baby. The mother may experience a wavering feeling of sorrow and joy due to this movement. The unsteadiness of the ojas makes delivery during this month dangerous. Ojas does not remain stable and birth at this time isn't safe. The baby's head is now proportionate to the rest of the
body.  There should be at least 10 movements every 2 hours but they will be less forceful. Pupils can constrict, dilate, and detect light. Baby is 16 to 19 inches long and weighs 6 to 6 Y,pounds.

Month 9: Normal delivery takes place between the beginning of the 8"' month and before the end of the 10"' month (counting lunar months of 4 weeks).  Most of the lanugo hair and vernix have been lost  The skin will be flesh­ colored and plump.  The baby shifts to a head down position.  Fat continues to accumulate, organ function improves, and the placenta provides antibodies.  Baby is 19 to 21 inches and weighs 7 to 8 pounds.

Apana Vata

Apana  Vata must be kept in balance during pregnancy.   Itis the downward moving flow of energy in the body and must not be too strong or too weak.   Most ayurvedic recommendations will be to balance apana vata.  An emotional disturbance that can be caused by excess vata is anxiety.  Foods, rest, and oil massage will be prescribed in order to restore balance.36   ''The apana vata is key to maintaining the pregnancy as well as birthing the baby at the time of labor.'. 


Food needs to be fresh and wholesome. Fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and dairy products are the mainstay of the diet. Eat organic; avoid packaged foods, irradiated foods or genetically engineered foods. Food should be delicious and usually cooked because it is easier to digest. Vegetable intake is extremely important. Dark, leafy greens like collards, kale, broccoli and green lettuces as well as squashes, sweet potatoes, and carrots should be eaten at least daily. A broad range of vitamins and nutrients will be provided by these vegetables. "The mother should be given whatever she wants during this period except perhaps those that are harmful for the foetus.', Denial of desires can lead to aggravation of vata. Even things which are harmful can be used ifthey are processed or combined with things that are wholesome.  Gratifying her desires will result in a strong, long-lived, virtuous son. "A non-gratification of any sensual enjoyment by its mother during gestation tends to painfully affect the particular sense-organ of the child.

Eat all 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent), but emphasize sweet, sour, and salty. Examples include dairy (whole milk, butter and yogurt), sweeteners (honey and natural sugar), oils (olive oil and ghee), fruits,
vegetables, beans (mung beans or split mung dahl), spices (fennel, cumin and ginger), and nuts (blanched almonds).

How food is eaten is just as important as what food is eaten. The mother should feel light, happy and satisfied after her meal. She should not feel unconliortable, have gas or pain, or feel dull.  Rec=endations include eating the main meal at noon, waiting at least 3 hours between meals, and sitting down while eating. Also, she should taste the food, not have distractions, and avoid overeating.

Sattvic foods will build ojas.  These include many of the ones previously listed but most importantly include milk and ghee (clarified butter).   Milk should be taken warmed wiili cardamom or turmeric added for better digestion.   It is recommended to take it as a snack and not wiili a meal.  Ghee is a nourishing, unctuous food.  It promotes digestion and is digested quickly.  Sattvic food is especially good for building ojas during ilie gth monili.  Ghee, milk, dates, apricots, and sesame seeds are all recommended. Tamasic foods often produce ama instead of ojas.

These are hard to digest foods like meat, eggs, alcohol, aged cheese, leftovers, fermented foods, mushrooms, onions, gar1i.c, and peanuts.

It is important to keep the fetus nourished throughout pregnancy. Dr. David Bruker presented research ilia!shows low birth weight may be linked to disease later in life. The theory is that if nutrients are insufficient then they will be diverted from organ development to more important areas like brain development During the time an organ is developing it needs to receive ilie correct nutrition or it may never develop properly.

Weight gain is extremely individualized '"The most important factor seems to be a steady weight increase on healthy foods." If the diet is high-quality then there shouldn't be any worries about whether the weight gain is too high or too low. It is important to pay attention to the body's messages. Eating when hungry, even if in the middle of the night is important.

The greatest care is required during the first trimester and last trimester. During the first trimester, emphasis should be placed on nurturing the uterine bed by consuming foods that help the rasa and rakta: juicy fruits, coconut water, and milk. During the last trimester, there should be less fat, less salt and less water in the diet.

"Excellent nutrition includes pure water, controlled breath, abundant light, loving and respectful relationships, beauty and harmony in daily life, positive, joyous thoughts, and vital foodstuffs."

Ayurveda practitioners have a wide range of beliefs about what foods should be consumed for optimum health. Practitioners range from raw food vegetarians, vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters.

"If you do include meat, fish, poultry and eggs in your diet now, DO NOT attempt to drastically change your diet during pregnancy. This could trigger a release of toxins to your child, plus the body will need to use different enzymes and digestive juices to build and assimilate vegetable protein rather than animal protein." It is important for everyone but especially those who choose to eat meat to ensure that the elimination system is functioning properly.

The Cleveland Clinic says that vegetarians can have a healthy pregnancy and remain on their diet. Important facts to remember are that 200 to 300 more calories each day are needed, a variety of foods should be consumed and enough protein should be eaten. Three servings each day are recommended of protein. Nutrients to focus on include calcium, iron, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin Bl2. The body needs 15% more energy, Khalsa recommends 300-500 more calories each day. If there is any doubt about adequate nutrition, supplements should be taken. She also recommends extra calcium during the 2••half of pregnancy to ensure adequate jaw growth.

The work of Dr. Weston A. Price studied isolated non-industrialized  peoples and the relationship of diet to human health.   "Dr. Price's research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.'"'8 The Foundation recommends pregnant women consume cod liver oil, raw milk, butter, eggs, fresh liver, seafood, beef and lamb, coconut oil, bone broths, soaked whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. The Foundation also provides resources for obtaining healthy foods and food preparation techniques that could be beneficial to anyone.

Daily Routine

Two of the main components of a daily routine are going to bed early and getting up early. It's important to go to bed during the kapha time of day (6pm to 1Opm).  It is easier to fall asleep and sleep will be more restful.  It is important to wake up before the kapha time of day (6am to 1Oam). Energy, vitality and alertness are greater if waking before 6am. Naps should be avoided except during the hot summer months.  Rest though should be frequent and before feeling tired  Rest is especially needed in the first two months of pregnancy as well as the last two months.

Abhyanga, a full-body self-massage, is important to perform each day. Stress and fatigue that may push vata dosha out of balance are relieved through abhyanga. Warm sesame oil by placing a container in warm water. Apply oil with an open palm using long strokes on the long bones and circular strokes on the joints.  Massage all parts of the body and very gently apply oilto the abdomen. A warm bath or shower after the abhyanga helps open the channels of circulation. Massage of the nipples is recommended after the 4"' month.

Foot massage can also be used to help balance vata. Energy will be kept flowing throughout the body and all systems will be stimulated. This would be an excellent activity for the partner to perform.  Use sesame or almond oil. Warm baths are also an option that can relax the muscles allowing better circulation and preventing stagnation of toxins.

A sitz-bath is recommended a few times each week or every night for the last 6 weeks prior to birth.  A handful of linden flowers steeped in one liter of water and added to the bath will aid in softening the perineum.

Yoga Asanas
Walking, swimming and yoga asanas are the best exercises. All normal asanas can be practiced during the first trimester.  During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, do not put pressure on the abdomen; examples would be cobra (bhujangasana) and bow poses (dhanurasana). Inverted postures should not be practiced during the 3rd trimester. The best asanas encourage pelvic and hip-opening; these can be done sitting or standing. Examples would include bound angle sitting pose (baddha konasana) and open legs forward bend (upavista konasana). Postures that promote flexibility and strength of the spine are also good.  Khalsa's book The Gift of Giving Life includes a 20 page chapter on breathing, yoga and relaxation.  She discusses several yoga positions that can be practiced daily; both why and how are covered.

Some yoga studios offer special classes for pregnant mothers.  One example is Down Doggie Yoga Studio in Grass Valley, CA which offers a special program called Bodhi Baby Yoga. The owner of the studio Deborah Jordan says, "Yoga not only helps a pregnant women exercise but teaches her how to relax into discomfort. Yoga is nurturing and teaches us to relate to our bodies and ourselves with compassion and respect. Prenatal yoga empowers a woman as she prepares for childbirth and parenthood by turning her attention inward strengthening her confidence, her ability to trust her intuition, to speak her truth for the health and well-being of herself, her baby, and her family."

The study was conducted on of 335 women. Approximately half practiced one hour of yoga each day including postures, breathing and meditation. The other half walked 30 minutes twice a day. They began the study with women between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The conclusion of the study determined that yoga is safe. It also improves birth weight and decreases preterm labor. "Complications such as isolated intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) (p < 0.003) and pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) with associated illGR (p < 0.025) were also significantly lower in the yoga group."


During pregnancy, entrainment occurs. "Entrainment is the tendency of natural cycles to come into coordination  with each other." Bonding between mother and baby occurs as the two entrain; their biological rhythms matching eacb other. A research project that studied the effects of mothers who practiced Transcendental Meditation and their babies quiet alertness showed that those who practiced this technique had double the quiet alertness of those who did not meditate.

The mind must be trained in order to experience relaxation of the body.  "We have found that easy, fast birthing is highly dependent on the ability to relax and surreoder to the process of birthiog." The mind can be calmed by concentratiog on the breath. Allow breath to move in and out of the body as waves move in and out from the shore. "When we relax the body and bring the breath into a relaxed rhythm, we can then begin to hear the message of the internal voice and can even heal our aches and pains.'m

''The aura of a pregnant woman is one of the easiest to see, for it is particularly luminous and full of gold.''  ''The gold colour in the aura indicates that the pregnant woman is intensely connected to high spiritual beings who support and foster the embryo. Pregnancy is therefore a privileged time for spiritual growth. Itis a time to do a lot of meditation and enlightening reading, and to work at developing intuition and perception. "


Maternal attitude is the most important factor in determining the child's physical and emotional well-being. Growing up in India, Dr. Reddy observed the family and friends of the pregnant mother; they provided her with much emotional support. The family often cooked special treats and friends would bring gifts and sweets. The culture believes that for the baby to be happy, the mother must be happy.  The mother would take more rest and the father and in-laws would help out with household chores.

Music can play a role in happiness.  Several studies have shown that uplifting, soothing music helps increase the baby's intelligence. "The sound of the veena (Indian string instrument which is held by the Goddess Saraswati), flute and Samaveda mantras gives health to the pregnant woman and the child within." An example of a CD is "Garbh Sanskar : Blessings For The New Arrival".  A search conducted on of the word "Garbh" showed 4 CDs available.

Baby showers over 5 separate months are traditional in India.  Starting in month 3, the family and friends hold a shower to celebrate the five senses, one each month. Usually they are in this order: sight, taste, hearing, smell, and touch. Each shower celebrates a sense by giving gifts that stimulate that sense organ.

Babies are able to remember things from their neonatal experience as well as learn while in the womb. Children have memories of incidents, they remember music that was played and they've shown knowledge of academic subjects that were taught. Babies also remember painful memories.  Those born to parents who had fights were more likely to have health issues. Those exposed to hard rock would move violently in the womb.

During the 4"' month, it is important for the mother to have happy relationships especially with the father. This is due to the heart developing as the seat of consciousness.  If there are disturbances during this time the baby's heart could develop defects. Before this time the baby is connected by astral projection only but after this time the mental body of the baby is connected to the physical body.

About the 5"' month, the mother's navel begins to protrude out. The navel point is where 72,000 nerve endings unite just under the navel. These nerve endings become more exposed to outer vibrations. The mother's ability to feel her environment and those around her increases dramatically. This sensitivity needs to be honored and used as a method of protection for both mother and baby.

During the 8"' month, the ojas moves between mother and baby. It is important to rest during this time and eat ojas building foods. The mother shouldn't waste energy and should let the energy go inward  She should spend time in nature as well as chant and meditate. Things to avoid include overwork, worry, anger, hunger, excessive sex, sorrow and devitalized food

"Ayurvedic teachings promote a proper attitude of worship towards all pregnant women's.  The mother needs a "clear joyful spirit" in a clean body.  She should wear clean and white garments.  She should avoid dreadful sights, painful or agitating sounds. Agitating emotions of the mind are dangerous (anger, fright, etc). She should not carry a heavy load or talk in a loud voice. The food she eats should be "...sweet, palatable, well-<:ooked, prepared with appetizing drugs and abounding in fluid substances."88 "The child in the womb feels pain in the same part of its body as the one in which its mother feels any; whether this (pain) may be from an injury or through the effect of any deranged rnorbific principle  (dosa) of her organism."


Many of the health challenges of pregnancy can be prevented by paying attention to nutrition. Low blood sugar contributes to mood swings and morning sickness. Insufficient calcium contributes to hypertension, backaches and severe labor pains. Lack of nutrients also contribute to varicose veins, constipation, anemia, hemorrhoids, and skin discoloration. Pre-eclampsia can be linked to acute malnutrition.

The best method of taking care of challenges is to resolve imbalanced conditions before pregnancy.   Pregnancy increases all three doshas: vata with change and expansion, pitta with metabolism and heat increased, and kapha with increased bulk of body.   These changes effect the woman's constitution as well as interacting with the baby's constitution and environmental  influences.  Therapies and herbs which distwb apana vata must not be used. Prevention is the easiest approach to health.

Challenges can still occur despite the best efforts. These can include backache, high or low blood pressure, painful breasts, constipation, heartburn, hemorrhoids, indigestion, kidney problems, leaking urine, nausea and vomiting, nerves, insomnia, swelling of hands and feet, tingling and numbness of limbs, varicose veins, and other complications.  Susun Weed's book The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year covers many recommended foods and herbs that can be used during pregnancy to maintain and improve health.  Also, Khalsa's book The Gift of Giying Life, covers many herbal and non-herbal solutions to challenges that develop during pregnancy.

The classical texts describe 9 diseases peculiar to pregnancy: anorexia, nausea, dryness of mouth, vomiting, edema, fever, anemia, retention of urine and diarrhoea.


"Don't take herbs during your pregnancy unless you are absolutely certain they are safe. Herbs are powerful and can have harmful effects on you and your baby ifthey are not safe for pregnancy.'  ''The FDA urges pregnant women not to take any herbal products without talking to their midwifes or doctors first  Women are also urged to consult a trained and experienced herlialist (or other professional who is trained to work with hems) if they want to take herbs during their pregnancies."  Some hems cause uterine contractions, miscarriage, premature birth and birth defects. Herbs should be used with caution. Greater caution with herb use is advised during the first trimester as well as with signs of a fragile pregnancy; that is why herb lists will differ.

Herbs should be taken more for their nutritive value. Emmenagogues, purgatives and toxic herlis should generally be avoided  Very hot or very cold herbs as well as spicy hems and bitter hems should be used carefully.  Hems for
rebuilding the reproductive tissue are helpful: ashwagandha, bala, shatavari, white musali, and kapikacchu.  Chyavan Prash is recommended. Pitta women do well on shatavari and kapha women do well on cardamom, fennel and basil.

The Natural Medicines Database rates hems based on safety. Red raspberry leaf, peppermint leaf, ginger root, slippery elm bark, oak straw, blond and black psyllium, garlic and capsicum have all been rated Likely Safe or Possibly Safe. This means there have been scientific evaluation, clinical and human studies that showed no adverse affects. Dandelion, German chamomile, and nettles have all been rated Insufficient Reliable Information Available.   This rating means there has been insufficient scientific evidence supporting their use. Nettles have also been rated Likely Unsafe. The reason for this rating may be concern about what part of the plant is used and how much. Saw palmetto, goldenseal, dong quai, ephedra, pay d'arco, passionflower, black and blue cohosh, roman chamomile, and pennyroyal are rated Likely Unsafe or Unsafe.

The proper time to use a specific hem needs to be researched in depth. An example is blue cohosh. Itshould not be used during pregnancy due to its effect of uterine stimulation. "It may be used in the 9th month of pregnancy, under the guidance of a trained health care professional. " Its typical use at that time is in a "Mother's Cordial", a formula that is used during "...the last 3 weeks of pregnancy as a partus preparator." This formula has been used for over a I 00 years. Ittones those muscles that are weak and relaxes those muscles that are spastic.

Herbal infusions can supplement the need for increased nutrition. Infusions of red raspberry leaves or nettles are recommended for those with pitta or kapha dosha and infusion of oatstraw is recommended for vata dosha.

Aroma therapy is another method of using herbs. Some essential oils that are considered safe to use during pregnancy include mandarin, tangerine, grapefruit, roman cahmomile, geranium, rose maroc, rose bulgar, ylang­ ylang, lavendar and jasmine.  Mitti Attar (baked earth) is a vata pacifying oil that is rubbed on the belly of a pregnant woman when the baby is too active. Some oils which are not safe to use during pregnancy include basil, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, and thyme. Research is necessary before use as with any herb.

Examples of common herbs used during pregnancy

Nettle Leaves (Urtica dioica) - PK-V+111 - It has the most chlorophyll of any herb. It includes almost all known vitamins and minerals necessary for human health and growth. The taste is deep and rich and the infusion is a dark green color approaching black Nettle will aid the kidneys, nourish the mother and fetus, ease leg cramps and muscle spasms, reduce hemorrhoids, decrease pain during and after birth, prevent hemorrhage after birth, and increase richness and amount of breast milk.112 It also prevents kidney and bladder infections, prevents anemia, and glucosuria.  Nettles is high in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium, and iron. Despite the Natural Medicines
Database giving nettles a rating of Unsafe, it is highly recommended by midwives and herbalists.

Red Raspberry Leaves (Rubus) - PK-V+ (in excess) - "It contains fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself." It prevents miscarriage and hemorrhage, eases morning sickness, reduces pain during labor and after birth, and assists in the production of plentiful breast milk. It contains vitamins C, E, A and B as well as calcium and iron. "Some studies have even reported that using red raspberry leaf during pregnancy can reduce complications  and the use of interventions during birth." There is some controversy about which trimesters it can be used safely; many only use it during the 2ru1 and 3"' trimesters.

Dandelion Leaves (Taraxacum officinale) - PK-V+- Itis rich in calcium and  folic acid.  It promotes general well-being, improves appetite, and reduces skin complaints. It is best for treating pre-eclampsia.  Three ounces of fresh or cooked greens are recommended daily. Dandelion heals the liver, helps kidney function and provides a source of calcium and potassium.  It can also be taken as an infusion.  It can relieve mild edema and nurish the liver.

Oatstraw (Avena Saliva) - VP-K+ - It is rich in calcium and magnesium.  It helps relieve irritated skin, restlessness, and anxiety. Both oats and oatstraw can be taken with similar effects. It promotes a strong nervous system and endocrine system and also can ease spasms and inflan Jmation. Oatstraw is an excellent rejuvenative for women weakened and tired by childbearing or who have had repeated pregnancies.

Ashwagandha (Withania sornnifera) - VK-P+ and Arna + (in excess) - " a good food for weak pregnant women; it helps to stabilize the fetus."

Shatavari (Asparagus racernosus) - PV-K+ or Arna + - "...its quality is sattvic and aids in love and devotion." It is a general, reproductive, and nervine tonic as well as a nutritive, rejuvenative, and denrulcent.

Oatstraw, Ashwagandha, and Shatavari are all rejuvenative tonics (rasayana karma) that "...rebuild the body-mind, prevent decay, and postpone aging." They increase the quality of the body and build ojas.

Vidari, shatavari, yasthimadhu, and hrahrni are all considered life-building herbs that can be taken in milk and are rec=ended during the 2•• and 3"' months.  Brahmi can be taken after the 3"' month to help calm the nerves and is also considered a sustainer of pregnancy. From the 4"' to the 7"' month, hems like ashwagandha, kraunch beej, and guduchi are advised to strengthen the uterine muscles and provide nourishment to the embryo. They also help prevent intrauterine growth retardation. After the 7"' month, hems which are mild diuretics and urinary antiseptics are recommended such as gokshuru and sariva. Basil, which is anti-spasmodic is advised in small quantities. 

Study of safety and efficacy of herbs during pregnancy

The Graduate Department of Pharmaceutical Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada has produced a series of articles reviewing the safety and efficacy of selected hems doring pregnancy and lactation. These articles appeared in The Canadian Joornal of Clinical Pharmacology issues for Fall 2006 and Winter 2008. The researchers searched 7 electronic databases and compiled data. Summaries of the research follow:

"...Panax ginseng was not associated with adverse effects when used during pregnancy."  "There is no direct evidence of safety or harm to the mother or fetus as a result of consuming cranberry during pregnancy." "In pregnancy, there is poor evidence based on theoretical and expert opinion and in vitro studies that chastetree may have estrogenic and progesteronic activity, uterine stimulant activity, emmenagogue activity and prevent miscarriages. "  "Based on the available scientific information, blue cohosh should; 1) be used with extreme caution during pregnancy ..."

"Ginkgo should be used with caution during pregnancy, particularly around labour where its anti-platelet properties could prolong bleeding time."   "Caution is warranted with the use of St. John's wort doring pregnancy until further high quality human research is conducted to determine its safety." "Echinacea is non-teratogenic when used during pregnancy."  "Black cohosh should be used with caution during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester where its purported labour-inducing effects could be of concern,..."

Research Study in Norway

Between February and June 2001, 4-00 women were interviewed within 3 days of giving birth concerning their use of herbs during pregnancy at Ullevltl University Hospital in Oslo, Norway.  36% used one or more herbs during their pregnancy and frequency of use increased by trimester.  The first trimester being the least and third being the most. "The most commonly used herbs were echinacea, iron-rich herbs, ginger, chamomile and cranberry." 39"/o of the women had used herbs that are considered harmful or lacking adequate data for safe use.  ''Women between 26 and 35 years with a prior history of herbal drug use and highknowledge about herbs, are more prone to using herbal drugs in pregnancy." 


"A pregnant woman is to be treated very cautiously as ifone is walking with a pot full of oil, in hand without letting a drop to fall." Drugs, diet and other therapies should be soft, sweet, cold, pleasant and tender. "She should not be administered emesis; purgation, sirovirecana (therapy for the elimination of dosas from the head) and raktamoksana (blood-letting)."

"During the seventh month, the abdominal skin gets stretched giving rise to itching and striations, which are, called kikkis.  This should be treated by taking sips of the infusion of berries or butter medicated with Manjistha, the application of the pulp of sandalwood and lotus or of a paste made of neem, basil and manjistha, or oil medicated With Karveer 1eaves or J.asmm. e.,,

In the 8"' month, it is recommended to start doing perinea! massage 4 or 5 times each week.  Itcan be done by the woman or her partner.  "Directions: Wash hands, then use licorice ghee as a lubricant and insert one or two fingers along the bottom of the vagina. After a couple of inches there is a "drop-off ' where the inner edge of the muscles lie. Massage the whole bottom half of this vaginal sling gently yet firmly enough to create a defmite stretching, burning sensation." Continue this stretching until birth.

During the last month, the woman should be given a small, gentle therapeutic oil enema to ensure apana vata is balanced. After this enenia, she needs to eat a vata reducing diet, adjusted to the season and her constitution.  Itis important to not aggravate apana vata during this time and the woman should avoid getting jarred, holding back gas or urine or bowel movements and she should not get chilled. Another version says to give a simple enema and then follow it with a retention enema of oil boiled with some hems and this may be repeated.  Tampons soaked in this same oil are kept in the vagina.

Spotting of blood during any month should be considered serious. Treatment for this can be found in the Masanurnasik Chikitsa. 

 Month by Month Regimens from the Classical Texts

  • Month 1:Take wholesome food morning and evening. Drink milk regularly; it may be taken cold.
  • Month 2: Take boiled milk with herbs having a sweet taste.
  • Month 3: Take milk mixed with honey and ghee. Take sastika rice with milk.
  • Month 4: Take milk along with 12g of butter. Take sastika rice with curd Also, take milk and butter and soup
  • made with wild animal meat
  • Month 5: Take ghee.Take sastika rice with milk. Also, take food with milk and clarified butter.
  • Month 6: Take ghee boiled with sweet herbs. Take sastika rice with ghee. Also, take gruel with clarified butter.
  • Month 7: Follow the directions for month 6. Ifitching develops in the chest due to pressure of the foetus, use kneading and friction massage on the area. Food should be sweet in taste and alleviate vata. Eat small amounts and
  • don't add extra fat or salt. Water can be taken in small amounts after eating.
  • Month 8: Take milk and gruel added with ghee. An enema should be given for restoring the nervous system and cleansing the bowels - that should be followed by an enema made of oil prepared with milk and herbs.
  • Month 9: Receive an enema of oil boiled with sweet herbs. Cotton swabs soaked in this oil should be kept in the vagina for oleating the uterus and genital tract. Itwill support softening of the placenta, pelvis, waist, sides of the chest and back; downward movement of vata; normaliz.ation of urine and stool; softening of skin and nails; promotion of strength and complexion; and delivery with ease.



Herbal Ghee taken In India


In southern India it is connnon to prescribe the woman to take one tablespoon  of herbal ghee daily during the 2 and 3"' trimesters. During the 4"' and 5th months, Kalyanakam  Ghrut is taken to develop the mental faculties and bodily systems.  Itprevents anemia and also congenital abnormalities.  During the last months, Thanka Sree Ghrut is taken to ensure complete development, a full term normal delivery and good fortune for the child.

Sanskrit Terms for Pregnancy


There are a number of Sanskrit terms which may be useful to know if looking over the classical texts or researching Indian web sites. The term for embryo is garbha. The general management of pregnancy falls under Garbhini Vyakaran. The development of the fetus in the uterus is described under Garhavakranti. Special regimens for each month are prescribed under Garbhini Paricharya.  The delivery area is the Sootikagar. Diseases particular to pregnancy are called garbhopadravas.  Other terms to know includejeevaneeya which means life-building, garbhasthapak which means it helps the blastocyst implant into the endometrium of the uterus, and prajasthapan which means sustainer of pregnancy. 

Preparing for the Baby


Pre-conception and pregnancy are the times to make all the plans for the delivery and postpartum recovery. Guidance may be needed concerning whether to use a doctor or a midwife, where the delivery is planned to take place, and who the mother wants present during the delivery. Consideration should be given to whether a birth attendant or doula is desired  Decisions should also be made for how the mother and baby will be cared for in the 40 days after birth.

Big changes are not recommended during this time. Many families choose to move house during pregnancy; one study showed 79% of expectant mothers were planning a move. The increased vata during "...a move can actually delay a mother's bonding with her baby after birth, or contribute to postpartum depression. "


Ayurveda provides significant assistance to women during pregnancy and it is a complementary addition to the care provided by medical doctors and midwives. Mothers-to-be undergo many changes to their physical and emotional being during their 9 months of pregnancy as they create and support a new life. Ayurveda provides nutritional advice as well as practices such as meditation, the daily routine, yoga asanas, and considerations for happiness. Herbs can be used to assist the pregnant mother to feel her optimum as well as overcome challenges. Extreme care must be exercised though when choosing to take herbs and several resources should be referenced before considering an herb safe to use.  The trimester it is allowed, quantity and part of plant all need to be researched. Mothers who already practice Ayurveda will simply expand their knowledge and application while those new to Ayurveda will find it to be of assistance during their life changes. 

By Christine Visco

The sole purpose of these blogs is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained doctor/health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call us or e mail.
Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)

Implementing Ayurvedic Practices and Philosophy in Pregnancy

Every thought, action, and decision a pregnant mother makes is directly correlated to the health, vitality, and essentially, the life potential of the child. She must be mindful that every element, food article, aroma, sight, and sound entering or surrounding her body impacts the fetus, directing the dependent soul to a greater state or to a more weakened state of health. Holistic care relating to pregnancy becomes essential as soon as the mother and father even decide to embark on the journey of parenthood—before conception even takes place. Ayurvedic practices and principles applied to the pregnant mother and her pending child provide a sincere potential for an enriched pregnancy and birthing experience, contributing to greater mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health of the mother, child, and father. How can the modern, western-born mother implement the ancient teachings of Ayurveda as she embarks on the journey to bring a vital new life into this world? This review of literature will offer an array of insight shedding light on how the three pillars of life, herbal treatments, five sense therapies, and spiritual practices can be incorporated and utilized throughout the pregnancy experience.



As much as her lifestyle allows, the pregnant mother would greatly profit adhering to the Ayurvedic principles encompassing the three pillars of life. Proper routines around food, sleep, and sexual practices will establish a foundation for an ameliorated and more harmonious pregnancy. Considering that all food ingested by the mother supplies the fetus with the building blocks of development, the highest quality and ideal quantities of foods should be consumed. The foundation of an expecting mother should emphasize a balanced kapha increasing food regimen, accentuating the sweet and salty tastes and limiting the bitter and pungent tastes.

Chopra, in his holistic pregnancy book, Magical Beginnings and Enchanted Lives, infuses Ayurvedic concepts when dealing with western pregnancies. He mentions that even though the mother will tend toward “sweet foods” (meat, dairy, grains, nuts, etc), all six tastes—sweet, salty, sour, pungent, butter, and astringent— play an essential role in optimizing the nutrition available to the mother and her baby. Sweet tastes impart nourishing and tonifying attributes that encourage healthy tissue formation. Sour foods, such as citrus fruits, berries, and fermented foods, aid in digestion and stimulate the appetite; sour fruits specifically provide adequate amounts of vitamin C and flavonoids—which contribute to healthy cell development and immune function. Salty tastes, when naturally integrated in foods, support water-absorption, enhance digestion, and can be sedating. These include seaweed, seafood, and the natural mineral salts found in fruits and vegetables. Pungent tastes, such as common culinary spices like garlic, chili peppers, onion, clove, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, etc., help to stimulate and support digestion and metabolism, relieve nausea, and cleanse the sinuses and respiratory system. Bitter tastes are found in an array of green and yellow vegetables that contain important phytochemicals that support immune function, promote healthy growth, and often encourage cleansing and detoxification of the body. The last taste, astringent, initiates a drying response on the mucosa and creates a “puckering effect” throughout the body. Astringents include cranberries, pomegranates, asparagus, and many beans and legumes—which contribute complete and abundant sources of valuable proteins and complex carbohydrates.

So what does a mother want to achieve during pregnancy in regards to her dhatus (tissues) and body? The mother wants to foster a nourishing home and foundation for the developing fetus; without getting too absorbed by calories, meal sizes, and “pregnancy diets”, the mother will achieve balanced nourishment by simply emphasizing sweet, salty, and sour tastes that primarily tonify and fashion healthy tissue formation. Albeit, elevated intake of pungent, astringent, and bitter tastes deplete, dry-out, and exasperate purification of the mother’s body. All six tastes are vital, yet concocting the ideal balance of all the tastes in each meal is the ultimate—and, yes, obtainable—goal of the mother.

The Sushruta supports that, “the food should by amply sweet, palatable (ojas producing food), well-cooked, prepared with appetizing drugs and abounding in fluid substances;” overall, highlighting sweet, cool, and moist qualities. The Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita describe similar “special pregnancy” dietary regimens: in the first month, according to the Charaka, the mother is to consume large quantities of cold, unprocessed milk; in the second month, “only milk prepared with sweet drugs;” milk with ghee (clarified butter) and honey added in the third month; ten grams daily of milk butter in the fourth month; in the fifth month, she is suggested to take ghee; ghee with sweet herbs should be taken in the sixth and seventh months; and, for the final months leading up to delivery, the mother should include milk gruel cooked with ghee into her diet.

This tonifying regimen is encouraged to be included in conjunction with a nutritious, balanced, and complete diet. The Sushruta recommends nearly identical additions of milk and/or ghee at the progressing stages of pregnancy, but also encourages the intake of shashtika rice with milk in the third month, with curd in the fourth, with milk in the fifth, and with clarified butter in the sixth month of pregnancy. The addition of animal flesh soups to her diet along with including abundant emollient fatty substances is also noted as supportive to the mother especially in her later months of pregnancy. The Sushruta is adamant that, “if treated on these lines, the enceinte [fetus] remains healthy and strong, and parturition becomes easy and unattended with evils”

Ramesh Nanal, a practicing Ayurvedic practitioner for over 35 years, incorporates useful pregnancy-related nutrition and specific food advice in his research; he succeeds in amplifying the clarity of the valuable information offered in the Caraka. He supports that stabilization of the fetus in the first trimester is essential—hence the importance of consuming sweet, cooling, and liquid food as suggested by the Sushruta. 

Garghasthapan foods (stabilizing to the fetus) help to anchor the placenta, and Nanal provides the example of supplementing with one tablespoon of Water Chestnut powder (Singhoda) decocted in a cup of warm milk with ghee, taking up to four cups a day. When the heart becomes active around the fourth month, “more pure kapha and rakta is essential for the fetus here,” and thus, a higher quantity of milk curds with rice and ghee should be consumed during breakfast and lunch. In the fifth month, the mana (mind) of the fetus becomes active, and the buddhi (the intellect) enters the fetus at month sixth; Hyridra foods (ojas/immune building foods) become highly important, Nanal recommending an increased intake of milk (milk being described as “boon to the making of mind”) along with ghee and rice. As the last trimester nears and the fetus’s organs and systems become more developed, Nanal merely states that the mother now “requires a specific prescription for each individual body constitution” that also acknowledges her overall health and any lingering symptoms. Nanal goes on to introduce a few specific food-based supplements to deliver additional support and nourishment to the expecting mother:
  • Garden cress seeds roasted in ghee and mixed with milk and sugar taken in the last months help with tonification, general debility, and pregnancy anemia.
  • Crab, corn, and egg soup or soy milk with egg yolks consumed after the second trimester is noted to assist with strong bone formation in the fetus.
  • Spinach soup with onions and carrots also support bone health of both mother and child, along with helping with pregnancy anemia.
  • Apricots—naturally very high in vitamin A—with honey is depicted as a very effective nervine tonic, yet also assisting with constipation, preventing infections, increasing healthy blood formation, and reducing the chances of cellular degeneration.
  • Banana with dates, figs, and ghee taken every day in pregnancy is said to be a superior overall tonic that also improves and increases blood, preventing anemia to a great extent.
  • When soaked and ground in water, black currents can be helpful in all urine disorders while also helping to alkalize the body and tone the large intestine.
  • Dates soaked in milk overnight, ground in the morning, and mixed with cardamom and honey assists in healthy blood and bone formation in the fetus.
  • Mango juice with ghee and milk taken two times daily may prevent fetal abnormalities, increase fetus’s defense against infections, aid in proper development, ease delivery, and prevent post-partum complications.
Supplementing an already nutritious, abundant, and whole diet with balanced, nutrient-dense foods compared to supplementing with bottled, store bought vitamins will do more to holistically support and nourish the mother and child. The Charaka notes that, “the entities derived from nutrition are these such as– formation of the body, growth, continuance of vital breath, contentment, corpulence and vigor” portraying the special importance of a proper and complete diet for a mother-to-be.

Ayurveda principles strongly support that the foods one consumes is only a component of achieving a healthy and complete diet; the proper routines and practices around eating contribute immeasurably to the inclusiveness of one’s diet. To benefit more fully from her meals, the mother should eat her meals in a peaceful and beautiful environment, eliminate alcohol, nicotine, and nonprescription drugs from her life, eliminate caffeine if possible, honor her appetite (eating only when she feels hungry and stopping when satisfied), refraining from overeating by paying attention to when her stomach is 2/3rds full, eat freshly prepared foods, reduce ice-cold foods and beverages, drink plenty of pure, room-temperature water every day, sit quietly for a few minutes following each meal, and honor any cravings that arise, yet indulging with awareness. In regards to cravings, both the Sushruta and Charaka agree that desires shouldn’t be ignored. The Sushruta averring: “A physician should cause the longings of a pregnant woman to be gratified inasmuch as such gratifications would alleviate the discomforts of gestation; her desires being full-filled ensure the birth of a strong, long-lived, and virtuous son. A non-fulfilment of her desires during pregnancy proves injurious both to her child and her ownself,” and the Charaka agreeing that “whatever she wants should be provided to her except those which damage the fetus.”

The other two pillars are considerably more direct. Regarding sleep, the mother should get a full night of sleep, avoid day sleep, avoid sleeping on her stomach and back (unless properly supported with an incline), and shouldn’t oversleep to prevent lethargy in herself and in birthing a lethargic and lazy child. The Sushruta supports that sexual intercourse should be avoided because of fear of harm to the child and the Caraka compromised with sexual activity being acceptable one time each month. However, with current research regarding sex and pregnancy, experts support that, “sex during pregnancy is extremely safe for most women with uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies.” Each pregnancy is unique and sexual desire can vary with each women, thus the mother should remain present with what feels appropriate and appealing to her, simply using her desires as her best guide. In general, however, it should be acknowledged that sexual intercourse in excess is depleting to both partners and that special care, more gentle practices, increased mindfulness, and emphasizing the sacredness around sexual union becomes valuable and supportive to the pregnant couple. Ayurveda is all about balance and catering to the uniqueness of all individuals, so regarding the pillars of life and all other practices falling under the Ayurvedic umbrella, always looking at what will best support the unique mother at the present is fundamental.


Herbs are quite a controversial topic when it comes to their consumption during pregnancy, especially when considering that medicinal quantities of any herb can have unpredictable consequences on individuals. However, herbal practices have boomed immensely in the west, steering more mothers toward herbal consumption during pregnancy. Inexorably, this has led to expanded knowledge of how herbs affect pregnant woman and their babies. In Aviva Romm’s research and time in practice as a midwife and herbalist, she summarizes herbs repeatedly observed to be safe and effective, those commonly used but may be harmful, and herbs to avoid all together during pregnancy. Romm acknowledges: “Overall, most herbs are safe, with little evidence of harm. Few reported adverse events have occurred, and those that have been reported typically involve the consumption of known toxic herbs, adulterants such as unsafe herbs or even pharmaceuticals additives, or inappropriate use or dosage of botanical therapies.” Caution should always be taken, of course, and Romm and other sources state that, if anything, the majority of herbs should be avoided all together in the first trimester.

Through scientific evaluation and clinical trials, Romm lists a handful of herbs seen repeatedly to be safe during pregnancy. Red raspberry leaf was found to be a mineral-rich, nutritive uterine tonic that, with long-term, low-dose (1.5-5 gm in tea/infusion) use leading up to parturition, can promote an expedient labor with minimal bleeding. To reduce the duration or occurrence of upper respiratory symptoms, intermittent use of Echinacea (as tincture) has been deemed safe. Chamomile tea in moderate amounts can assist in relaxation, insomnia, and flatulence during pregnancy. In the case of a urinary tract infection, concentrated, pure cranberry juice (taking up to 32oz/day) is the ideal, non-anti-bacterial treatment that is safe and effective for pregnant women. Ginger, mentioned in many texts and research, is commonly recommended as a safe treatment for nausea, vomiting, and general morning sickness as long as the daily dose doesn’t exceed one gram of dried ginger powder. Even the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database, an extensive, online resource providing “Unbiased, Scientific clinical Information in Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Therapies,” remarks ginger as one of the best known herbal treatments for morning sickness in pregnancy, stating: “Clinical research in pregnant woman suggests that ginger can be used safely for morning sickness without harm to the fetus.” Other herbs, like Nettle to reverse iron-deficiency, cramp bark for irritable uterus relief, licorice (only for short-term use not exceeding a week) utilized for sore throat symptoms, motherwort for labor pain, black and blue cohosh and castor oil to simulate labor, and the external application of tea tree oil, garlic, and calendula oil for vaginal yeast infections are also notable treatments, yet less scientific research has been conducted to back up their safety—only traditional usage and empirical evidence is available. So, what herbs should soon-to-be mothers avoid all together? The American Pregnancy Association lists saw palmetto, goldenseal, dong quai, ephedra, yohimbe, pau d’arco (in large doses), passion flower, black and blue cohosh (for women who are not at term), roman chamomile, and pennyroyal as herbs that are likely unsafe or unsafe for oral consumption during pregnancy. Possibly unsafe herbs may include aloe, ginseng, feverfew, kava kava, and senna, but like with most herbs, adequate research is limited. Generally noted from the Caraka, “the diseases of the pregnant women should be managed with diet and drugs consisting mostly of soft, sweet, cold, pleasant and delicate things.” While this is quite vague, the idea of judging herbal effects based on their gentler qualities could be of use for the pregnant mother trying to avoid harm. 

Throughout the Vedas, while herbal recommendation (usually via external application) are noted for use in regards to serious pregnancy complaints and disorders, little is to be found mentioning common herbal use safety during pregnancy. The Sushruta, pertaining to the overall health benefits for mother and fetus, does however include that, “the growth, memory, strength and intellect of a child are improved by the use of four following medicinal compounds, used as linctus (pras’a): 1) well-powdered gold, kushtha, honey, clarified butter and vacha; 2) brahmi, shanka pushpi, powdered gold, clarified butter, and honey; ) shanka pushpi, honey, clarified butter, powdered gold and vacha; and 4) powdered gold, maha nimba, white vacha, clarified butter and honey.” As the mother progresses through her final term, bastis (enemas) are commonly employed to balance vata, particularly apana vayu—which is the vayu governing the decent of the child through the birth canal. A specific basti formulation the Sushruta suggests to help “restore vayu in her body (nervous system) to normal and to cleanse bowels, [is an] anuvasana basti(enema) with bala, atibala, shatapushpa, palala (flesh), milk, cream, oil, salt, madana fruit, honey and clarified butter.” It was then stated to follow with a basti made with milk and a decoction of Madhuradi-gana. While the Charaka was vaguer, stating simply to “give unctuous enema with the oil cooked with sweet drugs,” they can both be interpreted to support that tonifying, oil-based enemas with nourishing herbs, and maybe even nervines, would be beneficial to the mother during the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy. While ancient Ayurvedic remedies may be difficult to apply, utilizing Ayuverdic principles with the available herbs can benefit the western mother.

While taking caution and/or seeking herbal advice from an expert is never a bad idea in the case of including herbs during pregnancy, the moderate use of herbal nutritive teas and cooking spices are generally considered safe to be used freely. And, again referencing Romm, a final general list of safe herbs to use for mild pregnancy complaints—having only slight variation in the medical research she gathered—include: Echinacea, St. John’s wort, peppermint, spearmint, ginger root, fennel wild yam, meadowsweet, blue and black cohosh, red raspberry leaf, evening primrose, garlic, aloe, chamomile, pumpkin seeds, and ginseng26. Herbs, however, aren’t paramount to a healthful, joyous, and symptom-free pregnancy. Through diet, including proper daily routines and practices, and managing overall stress of the mind and body, an expecting woman may find she has no need to reach in the herbal cabinet for symptomatic relief.


The ancient Vedic practioners are adamant about implementing more sattvic routines and rituals in daily life. The Sushruta claims: “Those women who are devout in their worship of the gods and the Brahmins and cherish a clean soul in a clean body during pregnancy are sure to be blest with good, virtuous and generous children; whereas a contrary conduct during the period is sure to be attended with contrary fruits2.” Today, we may not be as devout in our thinking, but promoting and conducting practices that support spiritual growth, keep the body clean and healthy, and keep the mind calm and joyous can support and enhance the experience leading up to and following parturition. Before uncovering the practices most beneficial to the mother-to-be, the Sushruta obstinately remarks on actions prohibited during pregnancy:

“A woman should avoid all kinds of physical labor, sexual intercourse, fasting, causes of emaciation of the body, day-sleep, keeping of ate hours, indulgence in grief, fright, journey by carriage or in any kind of conveyance, sitting on her haunches, excessive application of Sneha (oil) karmas and venesection a the improper time (after the eight month of gestation), and voluntary retention of any natural urging of the body.”

Even with these “don’ts” having been recorded in texts thousands of years ago, these simple examples still can provide a baseline of actions to avoid during pregnancy in the modern day. Implementing yoga (encompassing meditation and breathing), increased overall mindfulness, and five sense therapies as routine practices during pregnancy is supported by the ancient texts, and all can be safely and conveniently integrated into an expecting mother’s day.
While strenuous exercise is almost always prohibited during pregnancy, conducting some form of exercise can be beneficial in maintaining the strength of a pregnant woman’s body—especially as the fetus grows and her energy and physical demands increase. To maintain bone strength, muscle tone (of all organs), heart endurance, and to keep her mind at ease, mild to moderate (depending on previous fitness and exercise routine before pregnancy) exercise should be adhered to daily starting at around the second trimester—because of the instability of the fetus in the first trimester, much more caution should be taken during that time. Brisk walks in nature, swimming, tai chi, and yoga are just a few examples of exercise options that will holistically sustain the mother. Yoga, the sister science of Ayurveda, is not only ideal because of its physical benefits, but yoga helps to calm the mind, alleviate stresses, and as Chopra puts it, “yoga awakens mind/body harmony, making it easier for you to make choices that are good for you both physically and emotionally.” Because prenatal depression has been noted to be a progressively prevalent factor, recorded to affect as many as 49% of pregnant women, and being observed to be “a risk factor for prematurity, for developmental delays, and for later behavior problems in childhood and adolescence,” safe and non-invasive measures to mitigate depression in pregnant women should be encouraged. In Tiffany Field’s study utilizing yoga and tai chi as a complementary therapy for prenatal depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances, she found that women who participated in tai chi/yoga sessions for 20 minutes daily for 12 weeks while in their second and third trimester (weeks 22 to 34 of pregnancy) depicted greater decreases in all three areas she observed. They utilized the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), which is a self-report assessing the frequency of present depressive symptoms including: “depressed mood, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of energy, and disturbances of sleep and appetite31.” With only positive results recorded, this study supports that yoga and/or tai chi is a cost-effective, safe, and convenient way to successfully reduce depression and associated symptoms during pregnancy.

Yoga can be modified for all levels, and yoga encompasses not just asana (the physical practice) but also breathing techniques, mindfulness, and meditation, making it accessible to everyone in some form. In a comprehensive literature review conducted by Kathryn Curtis, Aliza Weinrib, and Joel Katz on implementing yoga and its subsequent effects on pregnancy and the labor/delivery experience, they concluded that yoga is indicated during pregnancy having supportive psychological, physiological, neuromuscular, and immunological impacts on the mother throughout term and through and following parturition. One of the studies they examined was a monitored yoga program lasting 12-14 weeks which compared pregnancy-related discomfort in women who completed the program to those receiving standard hospital care. The findings support that a “prenatal yoga program is safe for pregnant women and can reduce the discomforts of pregnancy and increase maternal self-efficacy and self-confidence.” A second note-worthy study mentioned in the review described a holistic 16 week long (week 20 to 36 of pregnancy) program including asana, breathing techniques, lectures, and deep relaxation techniques. Not only did the yoga group show significantly greater improvements in physical, psychological, environmental, and social domains tested, but the author pronounced yoga as “a noninvasive and cost-effective way of improving quality of life and interpersonal relationships during pregnancy34.” With this last study, the experience of the mother throughout and following labor was examined. After a 10 to 12 week yoga program (throughout week 26-28 to week 37-38) was followed, maternal comfort, objective and subjective pain, length, augmentation, and the use of medication all in relation to labor, along with the overall birth outcome, was recorded. For the mothers who followed the yoga regimen, the first stage and the total duration of labor was significantly shorter, self-reported and observed pain scores were drastically lower, and evidence supports that maternal comfort at four different assessment points during and following labor was seen to be significantly higher than the mothers not following the yoga program35. While caution and medical approval should always be considered with all actions during pregnancy, overall, yoga asana, breathing techniques, and meditation/mindfulness practices most likely will only provide relief and increased comfort during and following pregnancy.

Yoga encompasses such a broad spectrum of practices and asanas, so for a mother new to yoga, where is a good place to start? Chopra’s book includes many asana, breathing, and meditation practices suitable for pregnant women. Slowing down with yoga will encourage the mother to bring more awareness to her breath, while also helping with joint flexibility, balance, and muscle tone. Poses, and their potential benefits, that Chopra recommends include as follows:
  • Butterfly pose with spine extended straight and slowly lengthening forward. This pose slowly opens up the pelvic girdle, which by increasing flexibility in this region, the mother may experience more ease upon delivery as the baby passes through that region.
  • Cat and Cow pose working deeply and slowly with the breath as she moves from one position to the next. This benefits the mother by increasing spinal flexibility and hip mobility, also helping with low back pain that is often experienced with pregnancy.
  • Squatting pose with feet planted on the floor, hips reaching toward the floor, elbows pressing out on the inside of the knees, and breathing to extend the spine and squat lower in the pose. This works to widen the pelvis and has been observed to ease labor and reduce the chance of perineal tearing—this pose also commonly practiced around the world as a birthing position because of these noted benefits.
  • Pelvic Tilts/ Bridge pose with legs perpendicular to the floor and hips lifted off the floor extended towards to sky, while the shoulders ground into the floor. This assists with spinal flexibility, relieving lower back congestion and improving overall circulation in the pelvic region.
  • Half pigeon, with straight spine and slowly walking the hands forward, is another great pose to open up muscles and fascia in the hips and groin region.
  • Child’s pose with the belly resting between the knees spread wide on the floor and arms extended forward. The mother will find greater ease in her back muscles, hips, and pelvic region, while also allowing belly muscles to soften and relax.
  • Simple twists, whether sitting upwards or performed from laying on her back, are great for massaging internal abdomen organs and lengthening the spine.
Chopra also mentions Kegel exercises, relating to mula bhanda in the yogic realm. Regularly practicing these can drastically improve pelvic muscle tone and the functions of the organs in that region. Strengthened pelvic muscles can aid in preventing urinary incontinence, improving circulation around the pelvis, and preventing hemorrhoids, while easing delivery because of more control contracting and relaxing those muscles. These practices conclude some simple examples that even mothers who have never before taken a yoga class can perform and receive much benefit. Endless yoga asanas are recognized that support the mother, but trained guidance and the use of props may be necessary to ensure no harm is done. Maintaining mindfulness and awareness of breath not only as she stretches and opens her body through yoga asana, but as she endures all her activities and actions should be a primary goal of the mother as she carries her baby and prepares for birth.

More and more research and controlled trials are being conducted on mindfulness, pranayama, and mediation during pregnancy as an effectual and risk-free method of decreasing stress and anxiety. Especially considering the negative impacts of stress on the mother and infants, including reduced adaptive immunity, lower birth weights, increased chance of preterm births, and cognitive, emotional, and developmental deficiencies in infants—and considering the harmful nature of reducing stress symptoms with pharmaceuticals—simple, non-invasive approaches are becoming key to help with stress and depression in pregnant women.

In Ka Po Chan’s study, he implemented an Eastern Based meditative intervention (including mindful eating, mindful walking, mindfulness prenatal and postnatal exercises, daily practice of ‘self help, helping others,’ crisis intervention: turn curse into blessing, daily practice of ‘bliss,’ three minutes-breathing practice, body scan, mindful breathing, etc.). He compared the birth weight, maturity, Apgar score (simple assessment of how the baby is doing at birth), and umbilical cord blood cortisol levels in babies whose mothers followed the integrative meditative approach to those who didn’t. His “evidence suggests that meditation as an intervention has a strong relationship to positive health outcomes, overall well-being and adjunctive treatment for diseases38.” The infants of the intervention group also portrayed a better response to stimulus along with having better overall temperament39. In another study that also focused on mindfulness, the author designed a randomized controlled study to evaluate the effects of an existing mindfulness meditation program in a sample of pregnant women experiencing elevated levels of stress. They described mindfulness to refer to “a process that cultivates a mental state of awareness and acceptance of present moment experiences, including one’s current sensations, thoughts, bodily states, and environment40.” With sharp contrast to the control group, the mindfulness intervention led to a decline in pregnancy-related anxiety and perceived stress, along with revealing an overall increase in mindfulness41. In a final related study involving the regular practice of Bhramari pranayama (bee breath) for two months by pregnant women as a potential measure to prevent the occurrence of pre-eclampsia, there was a “statistically significant reduction in basal BP, response to cold stress (body’s reaction to hand immersion in cold water) and basal pulse rate after two months of this yogic practice42. They supported that pranayama practiced overtime can restore the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system, revealing how these practices not only help the body on the emotional level when dealing with stress and anxiety, but on a physical—even quantitative—level as well. While these studies disclose just a few examples of a small handful of complementary practices, all defend that implementing a regular mindfulness/meditation and breathing practice—all of which fall under the “Ayurvedic approach”— throughout pregnancy will only bring an increased sense of ease and well-being to the mother and her baby during and following pregnancy.


Ayurveda strongly asserts the importance of balancing and supporting the five senses; five sense therapies and overall awareness of how the mother and fetus are effected by the external world through the five senses is an essential component to a balanced pregnancy. Not only will the mother feel more at ease and supported, but the fetus’s development prior to and following birth is significantly influenced by tastes, smells, touch, sounds, and sights the mother comes in contact with. Chopra elaborates on this concept, including ideas on how to encourage balance through the information perceived by the five senses of the mother and fetus:

The fetus is quite sensitive to outside sounds; studies support that by eighteen to twenty weeks, the fetus is hearing and responding to outside sounds. Experiments where small microphones were placed inside the womb of a pregnant women revealed that over half the words spoken by a man and over a third of the words spoken by a woman were understood. The mother’s voice is the most recognized and responded to, and if the father’s voice it frequently present, fetuses have been observed to respond to his voice soon after birth43; thus, the mother and father should be regularly talking, singing, telling stories, etc. to the unborn child throughout pregnancy. The mother, also being sensitive to sounds, will benefit by surrounding herself with calming and beautiful sounds. That could be in the form of music she enjoys and inspires her, positive and supportive conversations, or going out in nature and enveloping herself with the abundant, serene sounds of the natural world. Chopra notes that “pleasing sounds can lower blood pressure, enhance immunity, and reduce anxiety.” Sounds and music can also be utilized to balance a dosha vitiation: with more anxiety and vata present, gentle and calming music will help to ground the mother; with heated emotions and heightened pitta, cooling and soothing sounds will suffice; and, with lethargy, melancholy, and more kapha present, uplifting and revitalizing music can support increased energy and motivation. While intently utilizing beautiful sounds will positively impact the mother and fetus, distressing, loud, obnoxious noises and stressful and odious conversations may have an antagonistic effect and, if possible, should be avoided.

The fetus is also directly affected by touch: “Pressure through external massage leads to changes in fetal activity and heart rate, and by six months in the womb the unborn baby is as responsive to touch as a one-year-old baby45.” As the mother changes her position, so does the fetus; studies reveal how rapid and abrupt movements of the mother trigger a motor response and alter heartrate in the fetus. On the opposing end, fluid and rhythmic movements of the mother, such as dancing, tai chi, and yoga, can bring ease to both mother and child. Daily full-body self-oil massage (abhyanga) is a practice recommended as an essential component of balancing regular routines in the Ayurvedic realm, and the pregnant mother would greatly benefit from incorporating a daily 10 to 20 minute abhyanga into her morning. Not only is the oil nourishing and tonifying, the rhythmic movements and strokes of gentle massage assists with lymph flow, circulation, immune function, and delivers an overall improved sense of well-being. If stretch marks are a concern, applying body butters, coconut oils, or avocado oils with the addition of vitamin E and/or the essential oils of chamomile and helichrysum may bring relief to prone or affected regions. Different oils may also have distinctive influences on the mother: sesame, almond, and walnut oils are heavier, warmer oils that help to pacify vata; coconut, avocado, and olive are cooler oils that are thought to be more balancing to pitta; and, mustard seed, sunflower, and safflower oils, which are warmer and less dense, are valuable to kapha. Warming these oils, infusing them with doshic-appropriate essential oils, and/or following the massage with a warm bath will augment the benefits and increase the sensations of this soothing oil therapy. 

Specific massage of the perineum (the area surrounding the birth canal) in the months leading up to birth will become an essential addition to the mother’s daily massage routine. Chopra mentions that this will not only aid in keeping the tissues nourished, but it will mildly stretch the tissues and better prepare them for a delivery, decreasing the chance of tearing or injury in that region. Uttara bastis (an herbal oil enema of the vaginal canal where one to two ounces of warm, medicated oil is held in the vagina as the pelvis remains in an upward-tilted position) is an Ayurvedic practice used for the same tonifying purposes, but with an advantage of administering herbal oils for broader effects on the mother and womb. The Charaka mentions a slightly different approach, proclaiming that, “A swab soaked with [sweet herbal] oil should be placed inside the vagina to lubricate the seat of the fetus as well as the entire genital tract” with added benefits of softening “the entities which hold the fetus, womb, waist, sides and back of the woman at the time of delivery, wind gets in normal course, urine and feces in normal state get through the passage easily; skin and nails also become soft, strength and complexion are improved and she delivers the child as desired, excellent and healthy with ease and in time47.” Because of how essential is it to support and normalize apana vayu (the downward flow that will govern the safe and easy delivery of the fetus) in an expecting mother—especially in the last half of the third trimester—these practices will do more than nourish and strengthen the perineal tissues, but will also support the other physical and subtle actions that apana vayu governs.

The womb is generally a dark place exposing the fetus to an insignificant amount of light (2 to 10% of visual outside light is thought to be perceived by the fetus), and the fetus has been observed to be only slightly responsive to changes in lighting and visuals of the outside world. However, the sights and visual exposures of the mother can impact the fetus because of how the mother responds on a more subtle level. Exposure to violence, gore, and distasteful images and scenery impairs the mother, even being noted to suppress the immune system49. In contrast, being encompassed by beauty and kind acts enhances immune function in the mother—and thus the child. Creating a home environment that is beautiful and begets delight (even including color therapy concepts to bring greater balance), getting out in nature every day, gazing into the starry sky each night before bed, and incorporating balancing color meditation (based on doshic vitiations) can all add to the well-being of the mother, and in essence, the fetus.

Tastes ingested by the mother slightly impact the fetus, studies suggesting that “an unborn baby will increase or decrease his swallowing based on the flavors present in the amniotic fluid50.” Sweet tastes are observed to be the most desirable to both the fetus and mother—as we have already explored—and bitter tastes are seen to be the least desirable, being depicted by babies swallowing less when bitter tastes are injected in the womb. Much has already been imparted on the matter of tastes and nutrition for the mother to be, so just a final reminder of the importance of including all six tastes on a daily basis and excluding all foods perceived as “distasteful’ and invoking a negative response in the mother, and by default, the fetus.

The final sense, smell, has a slight—yet notable—influence on the fetus. Evidence suggests that babies remember smells and tastes they are exposed to in the womb and are likely to express greater preference for foods whose fragrances they were exposed to during pregnancy. Because the child only knew the scent of his mother’s amniotic fluid for the first nine months of life, studies have depicted that “if a newborn baby is given the choice of suckling on her mother’s unwashed breast, which secretes a smell similar to the smell of amniotic fluid, or on a breast that has been washed, more than 75% of the time the newborn will choose the breast with the familiar amniotic smell51.” The tastes, and thus the smells, entering the mother’s body does subtly transfer to the fetus, but the scents and aromas in the mother’s environment will be more impactful on her well-being, moods, behaviors, and energy levels. Unpleasant odor can deplete and offset the mother, while pleasant and tasteful aromas can soothe and encourage an increased feeling of peace. Intentional aromatherapy—essential oils, fresh flowers, natural wax candles, etc being all great options—can be utilized to calm or uplift the mother, balancing vitiated doshic states experienced throughout and following pregnancy. A few examples of vata pacifying, calming aromas include lavender, geranium, chamomile, vanilla, juniper, and rose. To counter pitta and intense/heated feelings, scents like jasmine, rose, neroli, mandarin, sandalwood, and lavender are seen to cool and soothe. Invigorating and purifying scents that may assist in pacifying stagnation and kapha-related symptoms of the mind include cinnamon, juniper, ginger, bergamot, and citrus aromas. Diffusing, burning, incorporating these in massage oils and baths, or simply keeping a scented vile or spritzer bottle handy are all great methods of utilizing the profound effects of aromatherapy.

Considering how intake through the senses influences the mother and fetus, the mother should utilize this knowledge to create a more balanced pregnancy. The Sushruta was adamant that negative exposure of the five senses can be harmful to the mother and fetus, strongly asserting, “she should not touch nor come into contact with unclean, deformed or maimed persons, and should forego the use of fetid smelling things, avoid dreadful sites and painful and agitating sounds and the use of dry, stale, and dirty food as well as that prepared overnight52.” While we can’t expect a mother to constantly be in control of all the qualities she is taking in through her senses, she can, however, achieve more mindfulness of what she is exposed to in her environment and how to mitigate the aspects that aren’t supportive.

Pregnancy is a sacred time and should be treated as such. Commonly in the west we assist pregnant mothers with not much more than increased food intake, prenatal supplements, and regular doctor check-ups. While many successful births have occurred following the standard western lifestyle, Ayurveda looks deeper into optimizing health, ease, and vitality of the physical and subtle bodies of both the mother and fetus. Following a balanced, tonifying diet with the addition of food supplements for nutrient and rejuvenating support, including safe herbs only when necessary, incorporating an individualized exercise and yoga asana routine for the mother, implementing a meditation and pranayama practice, and utilizing therapies and simple lifestyle choices to bring balance in through the five senses are all effective regimens that play a preventative, stabilizing, and, overall, supportive role for the mother-to-be. To create a pregnancy experience that is void of stresses, frustrations, and unnecessary discomforts and abundant in love, contentment, ease, and joy is absolutely an achievable goal. Implementing Ayurvedic practices in a way that is compatible with the lifestyle of a western-born mother will assist in obtaining this goal, not only as she carries the child, but as she goes through labor, delivery, and caring for the child post-partum. Ayurveda isn’t a cure, but merely a balancing way-of-life that supports our body, and ultimately our soul, as we embark on the journey of life; and, if we are so destined, this journey may include the magical experience of pregnancy.

Source: Kelly Stoinki 

The sole purpose of these blogs is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained doctor/health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call us or e mail.
Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)