Saturday, May 28, 2016

Planned Parenthood : Prepare the ‘Womb Room’

Planned Parenthood

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone.

For many, the time to have a child is thrust upon them rather than consciously chosen. Some say there’s never a perfect time to have a child but that fate schedules it, along with the moment of birth and death. Couples ambivalent about having children rather than following a calling may be called up to parental duty by destiny. Others can eagerly prepare for a child who never appears. Ayurveda sees children as a precious gift from the gods to be welcomed whether invited or not. They are gurus who can prompt parents to cultivate qualities that may have otherwise lay dormant, virtues like unconditional love. In many ancient cultures becoming a parent is considered an enriching rite of passage, a momentous milestone presenting an opportunity for spiritual growth and deeper relationships. As Peter De Vries appreciated “The value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults.” Though the prospect of parenting may seem overwhelming many couples say that once they arose to meet the challenge and accepted the lifestyle adjustment the blessings far outweighed the sacrifices.

Preparing psychologically and physically for the little angel’s arrival optimises the mother and child’s state through the childbearing process. Just as a healthy seed bears healthy fruit, if the parent’s sperm and ovum are pure then the child is more likely to inherit a strong constitution and immunity. Conversely if parents conceive when mentally or physically weak this may impact negatively on the child’s condition. With the intention of giving their child the happiest and healthiest genetic inheritance ayurveda suggests parents observe a preconception regime called vajikaranam. The ancient text Charaka Samhita explains- "The aim of vajikaranam is to enable a couple to produce healthy progeny who can assist them to perform their life's mission (dharma)." About six months before conception an ayurvedic physician prescribes a personalised purification and rejuvenation regime for the couple to ensure optimal ovum and sperm quality and quantity.

This may include lifestyle changes, a nutrition plan, herbs, cleanses, yoga and meditation. The couple avoids chemicals such as in food or personal care products and wean off pharmaceutical medicine when possible. Energising exercises also increase fertility and virility but must be done in moderation. To prepare the ‘womb room’ for the special guest women can balance their menstrual cycle and take cleansing and fortifying herbs and supplements. Essential fatty acids, Calcium, Magnesium, Folic acid, Iron, B12, B6 and Zinc are particularly vital to prevent birth defects. General female tonics include Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Ashoka (Saraca indica). Men are advised to take virilizing herbs such as Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Sariba (Hemidesmus indicus) and Kapi Kachu (Mucuna pruriens).  There are also many compound formulations for optimum fertility. General reproductive tonic foods recommended include warm unhomogenised milk, ghee, yoghurt, black sesame seeds, urad dal, mung dal, honey, dates, almonds, ginger, garlic, onions and saffron. Hot spices should be avoided. Daily self massage and sufficient rest is observed to charge the body with positive hormones.

Couples who share their expectations, excitement and fears about having a child will forge deeper bonds of understanding to sustain them through the experience. Couples who attune their desires for parenthood are more mentally ready for the new phase of their life and are less likely to resent the sacrifices and compromises that may be demanded. Sharing the commitment to create a loving and supportive environment makes it a more positive experience for all. This is the time to iron out any relationship rifts by spending quality time together aligning hearts and future intentions realising that a happy couple are more likely to make happy parents, transmitting contented energy to their receptive baby. Spending time together around babies can reinforce the realities and joys of the decision for them both. Another way to build excitement is to think of their child’s character and envisage a fulfilling future for the family unit. Though this may not manifest precisely it builds a positive expectation that inspires couples to maintain faith and enthusiasm through any trials. This shared sankalpa or powerful intention for a beloved baby also generates a powerful magnetic attraction for the soul to enter the womb. Love is the best libido booster to set the mood according to ayurvedic sage Charaka who says “the best aphrodisiac for a man is a woman who loves him.”

Another Vedic belief is that one can connect with ancestors to invoke their blessings and support for the child. Annual rituals to appease forebears also help to clear detrimental familial karma.

Making a Miracle
A relationship ripe with mutual love and commitment may naturally grow into the co-creation of a child. This is why the Vedas calls the married phase expansion or garhastyam. The sacred ceremony for impregnation is known as Garbadhana samskara. Ideally the field is fertile to germinate the seed through the preparatory purification, rejuvenation and emotional practices.
The prime time for procreation is calculated by the woman’s ovulation phase. Women with regular menses and awareness of their cervical mucus changes and temperature shifts can often sense their most fertile time. Alternatively one can purchase a pharmacy ovulation test or seek guidance from a natural fertility consultant.

An Indian astrologer (Jyotish) can also advice the most auspicious time called rtu-samaagam for successful conception. Ayurvedic texts warn that it is detrimental to conceive at certain times including after a heavy meal, within 96 hrs of the menstrual period, during dawn or dusk, at midnight, on a full moon, new moon, fasting days and when the woman is bleeding. Days considered lucky for conception are on the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 15th days after the end of the menses. If you have a gender preference the Vedas states conceiving on an odd day will produce a daughter and an even day a son. To optimise the man’s sperm volume and motility it is best if he can conserve his sperm for three to seven days before the conception day. Because the couples’ consciousness partially determines the type of soul attracted to them and imbues the zygote with its first subtle influence it is recommended that they elevate their spirits and connect with divine grace by meditation, offerings or rituals. On this significant day they should feel contented and deeply connected. If either feels thirsty, hungry, fearful, sad or angry it is better to wait. After preparing the ‘love nest’, bathing, dressing in fresh white garments and applying essential oils and flower garlands they can recite the following prayer from Charaka Samhita in unison.

Aum ahirasi ayurasi sarvata  pratishthasi dhaata tvam, dadhaatu vidhaata tvam, dadhatu bramhavarcasa bhava
Brahama brhaspatir vishnu soma surya tatha asvinau
Bhagotha mitra varunau veeram daddaatu me sutaam            

This is translated as“O creator and the cosmic truth! Please bless us with a courageous/strong child with a long life and health, with the qualities of Brahma (power to create), Brhaspati (power to alter the future), Vishnu (power to maintain), Soma (power to flourish), Surya (power to be succeed), Mitra (power to love) and Varuna (power to nurture)”.

They can focus on welcoming the child to it’s new home and on tender feelings for each other. If the man then breathes through his right nostril and the woman through her left this is said to optimise conception chances. Alighting the bed with his right foot first the woman joins him by placing her left leg on the bed. Intimacy infused with blissful abandon will instil the child’s initial cells with the same essence of ecstasy, giving it a positive start to existence and a sound foundation for a satisfied spirit. First they enjoy leisurely foreplay to stimulate the juices of arousal and establish an energetic connection. During intercourse the woman should not lie on her side or kneel as disturbed vata (air and ether) will affect the genitals when lying on the right side and on the left side pitta (fire and water) can overheat the sperm and ovum. Lying on her back with her legs straddling her partner promotes the upward flow of sperm.

After making love the woman lies down for 30 minutes and for a comfortable duration she can rest her raised legs at a 45O angle to optimise chances of conception. To rejuvenate they may then have a bath and eat sweet rice, saffron and honey. The woman takes it easy for the next three weeks and an Indian custom is to keep the news of conception a secret until the first trimester is complete.

Source :  Dr Rama Prasad 

 Factors Involved in Creating a Healthy Child

What are the factors involved in creating a healthy child? According to Maharishi Ayurveda, conception takes place due to healthy sperm, a healthy ovum, and a healthy uterus. For both men and women, reproductive health depends on the health of the shukra dhatu, or reproductive tissue. In women the shukra tissue creates the ovum as part of the monthly cycle, and in men the semen is formed due to sexual stimulation.

The shukra tissue itself is created as part of a long chain of metabolic transformations, starting with the digestion of food and including the transformation of food to nutrient fluid, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow and finally, to shukra tissue.

Healthy shukra tissue, then, according to ayurveda, depends on the health of all the other tissues (dhatus) in the body.

Diet and Behaviors to Boost Fertility

There are two kinds of foods and herbs that help enhance shukra dhatu, and therefore help enhance fertility. One is called bringhana, and these foods enhance shukra by enhancing all the seven dhatus. Vrishya foods and herbs target shukra dhatu in particular.
Because the first six dhatus are the raw material for forming the reproductive dhatu, all of the dhatus must be completely healthy in order to form healthy reproductive tissue. That's why the bringhana diet, which nourishes all the seven dhatus, are so important if you wish to conceive.

Foods to Nourish All Seven Dhatus (Bringhana)

  • Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy proteins, including milk, lassi, and panir (a fresh cheese made of milk)
  • Mung dhal
  • Soaked almonds or soaked walnuts (you can grind them and add them to your vegetables)
  • Sweet, juicy fruits such as mangoes, peaches, plums, and pears
  • Dried fruits such as dates, figs, and raisins
  • Stewed apple for breakfast
  • If your digestion is strong, eat urad dhal (available at Indian grocery stores) cooked with equal parts turmeric, cumin,coriander and fennel.
  • A banana cooked in ghee, cinnamon and cardamom is a tasty and wholesome dessert for people with strong digestion.
Foods to Enhance the Reproductive Tissue (Vrishya)
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Milk
  • Date milk shake
  • Mango milk shake
  • Rice pudding
  • Spices such as ajwain  powder, cumin (which purifies the uterus in women and the genitourinary tract in men), turmeric (to improve the interaction between hormones and targeted tissues), and black cumin.
In general, it's important to eat a wide variety of foods in order to receive all the essential nutrients. Keep trying new vegetables and fruits, and rotate your menus to make sure you're not eating the same thing day after day.

Source : Maharishi Ayurveda


1. Cleanse (Months 1–3)

Before any growth or progress, a cleansing of the things that do not serve you well must occur. This is an opportunity to start new, on a blank slate, so that you can offer your highest self to the passage of pregnancy and to parenthood. Anger, grief, toxins, emotional heaviness, and more all have a profound impact on your pregnancy. In fertility cleansing, there is a specific effort to remove toxins and excess doshas from the field, the nutrients and fluid, and the seed, which are deeper tissue layers and therefore require deeper cleansing.

“Following panchakarma [Ayurvedic cleansing], a person’s perception and understanding become clear and the ego becomes mellow as love, compassion, and clarity unfold in the mind. The mind returns to its home, which is conscious awareness.” — Dr. Vasant Lad 

Emotional Cleansing

Allow these three months to give space for cleansing any past hurt or resentment in your relationship with your partner. Together, commit to purging the relationship of dysfunctional habits and beliefs so that your child enters a healthier, more supportive atmosphere. As you go deeper into the cleanse, do not be surprised if many things that were once long forgotten begin to resurface. For women, the womb is a very strong emotional center. A few tools for this process include the following:
  • Marriage counseling. The preconception cleansing process needs support, and sometimes navigating through the emotions can be overwhelming. Having a neutral, yet compassionate, third party can help bring light to deep-seated pain or simply bring a perspective that is insightful and refreshing.
  • Daily sits. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your relationship every day. Practice gratefulness for all that your partner gives you, and practice the art of genuine apology for any wrongdoings, being completely vulnerable and transparent with each other. You will see sincerity, trust, and compassion grow in your relationship from this practice.

Spiritual Cleansing

This is also a time to cleanse yourself of any dysfunctionalities within—any anger, greed, attachment, or excess pride and ego. Release all expectations of life and of yourself and even any expectations that you may have of your future child.
  • Daily affirmation and prayer. During these three months, strengthen your resolve to cleanse by beginning your day with the following affirmation:
    I am free of any bondage from the past. I have the opportunity to be born new every moment, and I choose to release all forms of pain that keep me from being fully present. I forgive all those who have hurt me and ask for forgiveness from those whom I have hurt. Give me strength to cleanse and be free so that I may offer my highest self to the child that is to come.
  • Ashoka baths. Ashoka is known as the “remover of sorrow,” and thus the herb heals both physical and psychological pain, particularly in the female reproductive tract. Boil three tablespoons of herbal powder in two cups of water until one cup of water remains. Add the decoction to a hot bath and soak in it. While in the bath, try to suck in the perineum to draw the herbal water and its effects close to the uterus.
  • Solarized water. Men tend to hold pain in their heart center. It is said that the heart chakra vibrates at the same frequency as the color green, and thus drinking solarized green water with intention cleanses the heart chakra. Store filtered water in a green bottle and let the bottle sit in the sun for a day. As you drink the water, focus on your connection with all beings through the heart center.

Physical Cleansing

The cleanse serves to clear toxins (ama) and excess doshas so that channels flow freely and toxins do not inhibit the proper functioning of any tissue.  For the purpose of fertility, the same principles hold true. Traditional Ayurvedic cleansing for fertility lasts for several months in order to cleanse and revitalize the deepest tissue layers. Try your best to adhere to the following structure, allowing for flexibility and modifications as you need it:
  • Month 1: Gentle cleansing. Eat an easy-to-digest diet that is well cooked. Completely eliminate—or at least avoid as much as possible—gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Follow the  the routine of self massage abhyanga  and gentle yoga.
  • Month 2: More intense cleansing. If a panchkarma  center is accessible to you, then undergo panchakarma for a minimum of two weeks. Otherwise, two weeks to a month-long home cleanse with a monodiet of kitchari and cooked vegetables (to the best of your ability) will serve you well. 
  • Month 3: Gentle cleansing. Ease back into the routine of a more gentle cleanse, as in month 1.
Here are a few more tips for an effective fertility cleanse:
  • Minimize, or if possible abstain, from intercourse. Yup, you read that right. This is a time of cleansing, which requires a lot of energy and reserves. Abstinence is a yogic practice used to conserve physical energy, ojas, and mental energy so that a more introspective and clear mind-set is maintained.
  • Practice meditation and yoga  regularly. Be sure to practice more gently while cleansing, particularly during month 2. 

The Seed (Bija)

The seed, or bija, of fertility refers to the egg and sperm. According to Ayurveda, this reproductive tissue is the very last tissue in our bodies to be created. It is the most refined, most complete tissue after we digest and process all the food, thoughts, and emotions that we ingest. As such, its perfection requires the best of the best—the best food, the best thoughts, the best environment. This is especially true for men, since fully mature sperm are produced, on average, every two months. For women, maintaining a healthy environment protects the quality of the eggs that they were born with.
Source : Banayan Botanicals

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)


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ayurveda and Breastfeeding

Ayurveda and Breastfeeding : The importance of breastfeeding

Breast milk is one source of complete nutrition for infants. Breast milk production is automatically stimulated in mothers due to secretion of specific hormones after pregnancy. Besides nutrition, a nursing mother also provides vitamin, minerals, digestive enzymes and other necessary ingredients that are required for the growing baby. Breast milk is known to contain valuable antibodies that can help the baby resist infections.
Listed are a few facts on why Ayurveda encourages breastfeeding:

Breast milk is known to contain valuable antibodies and is sterile, thus ensuring the baby us nit susceptible to infections.

The milk is available at the right temperature, suitable for the child. The various digestive enzymes present in the mother’s milk help the baby digest the feed easily.

The quantity of milk lactose present in the milk prevents the growth of E. coli, and poliovirus, ensuring complete heath protection for the baby.

Breastfeeding in Ayurveda
Ancient Ayurvedic tests state that the individual body constitution (Ayurvedic body type) of a mother can affect the quality of the milk. Normal breast milk can be easily and evenly mixed with water. It has a sweet taste and a slightly yellowish tinge.

Excess of Vata and diet to follow
When there is an excess of Vata dosha in the milk, the taste of the milk is bitter or becomes astringent. It will not mix evenly with water but stratifies when it comes in contact with water. When a baby consumes milk that has an excess of vata, it can have constipation, cramps or abdominal pain, anxiety, and can suffer from sleep disorders.

Mothers who have an excess of Vata dosha need to follow a proper Ayurvedic diet and have a routine that will help eliminate it. Foods that can increase the Vata dosha should be excluded from the meals. Avoid eating cold, stale, dry foods or foods that are overcooked, bitter and those with a pungent taste. Eat at least 3-4 meals in day (7:30 am, noon, 3:30 pm and at 6:30pm). Drink enough liquid; avoid snacking between meals, exclude beans, peas, raw vegetables like cabbage in the meals.

Excess of Pitta and diet to follow
When there is an excess of Pitta dosha in the milk, it becomes pungent, sour or salty. If you let the milk settle for a while, you will notice yellow streaks appear in it. When a baby consumes milk that has an excess of pitta, it can develop diarrhoea, stomach cramps, skin infections and delayed milestones.

Mothers who have an excess of Pitta dosha need to follow a proper Ayurvedic diet and have a routine that will help eliminate it. Foods that need to be avoided are all citrus foods, dairy products, pickles and pickled salads, foods that are marinated and very salty.

Excess of Kapha and diet to follow
When there is an excess of Kapha dosha in the milk, it becomes very sweet and is greasy and sticky to the touch and sinks in water. When a baby consumes milk that has an excess of kapha, it can gain weight very quickly which is not good for its health. They can also have constipation, a runny nose and a constant discharge from the eyes and ears.

Mothers who have an excess of Kapha dosha need to follow a proper Ayurvedic diet and have a routine that will help eliminate it. There should be a reduction in the intake of sweets and excessive salty foods. Foods with high fat content and starch should be avoided. Light exercise routine is recommended.

Source : Om Ved
Image Courtesy: Wallpaperswala

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)


Friday, May 20, 2016


“A new mother should be treated with massage, warm baths, a specific diet, and herbal drinks that prevent infection, pro-mote vitality, and alleviate vata.” — Charaka Semite - sarira sthanam

India has a wonderful tradition wherein a pregnant woman stays with her parents three months before and after having the baby to ensure that she gets abundant rest, support, and nurturing. This enables a woman to recover from the extraordinary mental and physical stresses placed on her through childbearing, allowing her the relaxed time and assistance needed to bond with the baby.

The ninety days after delivery are considered a vital, cleansing, recuperative period during which the mother should take complete rest to regain the strength and health of her pre-pregnancy state. This will give her the mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to cope with the demands of motherhood. It will also protect her and her baby from common health disorders associated with this time such as colic, insomnia, irritability, and post-natal depression. Even modern medicine acknowledges that it takes a women’s body at least six weeks to re-turn to normal after childbirth, hence the standard six-week post-natal check up.

Mothers who are not able to recover properly run the risk of suffering long-term depletion and chronic childbearing- related weaknesses. Women are particularly vulnerable to post-natal depression if they lack proper rest and support at this time. The many challenges they face include fatigue, sleep deprivation, pain, anxiety, breastfeeding, worries about weight gain and feeling generally over-whelmed regarding the responsibilities of motherhood. Issues such as these contribute to the post-natal depression suffered by 80% of women.

Childbirth and new motherhood tends to unbalance the elements of air and ether (vata) due to mental and phys-ical strain, sleep deprivation, irregular eating and weak digestion after delivery. Vata is cold, dry, and active; hence the approach to rebalance it is with warm, unctuous, and restful therapies. If the mother is unhappy or unhealthy this affects the baby and the developing relationship between the mother and child. Conversely, a nurtured mother over-flowing with joy and health showers that energy onto her child.

Ways to Restore Balance and Reduce Stress

    The mother should rest as much as possible for at least one month. Having a baby may be the beginning of the greatest love affair, but the end of sufficient sleep. To guard against exhaustion she should try to go to bed by 9 p.m. (or earlier) and do minimal exercise. Practicing yoga nidra is also very rejuvenating.
    To promote a peaceful lifestyle and reduce stimulation she should restrict the number of visitors; reduce talking; remain in a warm, quite environment sheltered from the cold and wind; avoid travel; and delegate domestic and work duties to caring helpers. Soliciting someone else’s help with the shopping, laundry, cooking, and cleaning for at least a month will allow mum time to focus on her recovery and the baby’s needs, without feeling swamped and depleted.
    The mother’s digestion will reflect the baby’s digestion, so special care should be taken to provide food that is lovingly prepared, light to digest, and rich in nutrition. Meals should be regular, warm, cooked, organic, liquid, and gently spiced. Foods to favour include whole grains, stewed fruits, steamed vegetables, mung dhal, basmati rice, milk, ghee, almonds, raisins, dates, figs, palm sugar, and plenty of warm fluids such as chamomile or fennel tea.
    Digestive spices such as basil, bay leaf, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, hing, mustard seeds, pepper, and turmeric are good to stoke the digestive fire. Some foods disturb the mother’s digestion and make breast milk more gas-forming and should therefore be avoided. Examples of such foods include cold, raw or fermented food, leftovers, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, onions, green peas, potatoes, sprouts, and most legumes (except for mung dhal).
    It is good if the new mother is massaged daily with warm herbal oils and then left to sleep for an hour. She can then take a bath with the therapeutic leaves of tamarind, jackfruit, castor, and neem. All these have anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. An aromatherapy alternative employs an elixir of rose, rosemary, lavender, cypress, and geranium essential oils. Jasmine is also good to prevent post-natal depression. Her belly is then bound with a cotton cloth to support the abdomen and uterus’ return to normal. Post-natal massage helps the mother’s body to reorganize itself; relaxes; promotes circulation; boosts immunity; conditions skin; soothes the nervous system; and returns muscles, ligaments, and bones back to normal. Another special treatment given after the nor-mal daily massage for the first week is an herbal leaf poultice massage (ila kizhi). The poultice containing castor plant leaves, tamarind, Vitex nigun-do, lime, and rock salt reduces body aches and improves muscle tone.
    Herbal tonics given at this time to restore the mother’s energy, immunity, and promote quality breast milk include chyavanaprasham jam, Asparagus racemosus (shatavari), and Withania somnifera (ashwagandha). Other classical preparations given to ease vata and promote digestion include dhanwantaram decoction plus tablets, dasamoolarishtam or jeera-karishtam.
    Many women suffer from constipation after delivery for which castor oil may be taken before bed to lubricate the bowels and encourage complete evacuation.
    Intercourse should be avoided for at least three months to allow the reproductive system recovery time. Pelvic floor exercises and yogic moola bandha can assist vaginal elasticity. To shrink the size of the vagina a douche of gooseberry (amalaki) decoction or fig leaf paste is used.
    Ayurveda considers the milk from the breast best, custom-made for the baby’s specific needs. As soon as possible the baby should be put on the breast, as the initial colostrum, though heavy, is considered to be nectar. To increase milk production the mother can think of the baby with tender affection and take fenugreek, fennel, shatavari, milk, drumsticks, and ghee. If the baby is reluctant to drink breast milk, honey is put on the nipple for encouragement.
    For mastitis, warm cabbage leaves can be put in the bra and cracked nipples are eased with calendula and turmeric ointment.

The baby may be weaned off breast milk either after the teeth appear or continued according to the mother’s preference. To dry up milk the mother can apply neem or jasmine leaf paste externally to her breasts. Though it may seem unrealistically idyllic to follow these mother-care practices.

 Mother and Baby Program offered by me at my Hospital and  saw the benefits for hundreds of mothers, “I never saw an instance of post-partum depression in all of the years I worked with this program.... Mothers looked healthier, more supported, more rested. Their ongoing good health seemed to continue for years.” Research conducted &  supports the effectiveness of the Mother and Baby Program. I found that the mothers in the program had better overall health, more confidence and happiness in new motherhood, enriched family relationships, and better physical and emotional stability.

The initial six months of a baby’s life are considered a crucial phase, during which the foundation of mental and physical fortitude is established. The transition from the womb to the world should be as gentle and tender as possible. The situation babies have been in could be likened to spending nine months in dark solitary confinement; hence they need time to adapt to sensory input. Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.31 describes the discomfort suffered by the baby in the womb who, likened to a bird trapped in a cage, appeals to the Lord, “I, the pure soul, appearing now bound by my activities, am lying in the womb of my mother by the arrangement of maya (illusion). O my Lord, when shall I be released from this confinement?” To make the adjustment as easy as possible the newborn is protected from any intense sensory stimuli. This includes wind, strong sunlight, rain, loud or jarring noises, strong scents, hard surfaces, and sudden or excessive movement. Everything should be soft, warm, and nurturing. According to Vedic tradition the child does not even go outside until it is fourteen days old — a ritual known as niskramana samskara, where the father takes the child out under the sun and recites a mantra for its well-being. Also, at three-months-old the child may be placed briefly at the feet of the temple deity for divine protection while receiving the  blessings and a sprinkle of holy water.

Three practices that enhance bonding with the baby are breastfeeding, massage, and “baby wearing.” Modern medical research has established the benefits of breastfeeding over bottle-feeding. Scores of studies conclude that breast fed babies have a lower mortality rate than bottle fed babies, develop physical and mental milestones faster, and are less prone to dental decay and infections. Breast milk has seventy ingredients not found in bottled milk and is an important source of immune building antibodies. The baby is weaned onto solids once the first teeth appear. The first grains are given to the baby  in a ceremony called annaprasana. After 56 days the baby can eat semolina soup which is prepared by soaking semolina in water overnight, draining the water the next morning and cooking the semolina with palm sugar and milk. Dried, seeded, and powdered green banana is also given with buttermilk as a digestive aid for the stomach. Ragi or red millet water, rice, and cow or goats’ milk are also administered. Salt is withheld for the first six months.

Massage is integral to the mother/baby daily routine in India. It is partic-larly advantageous for premature babies. When premature babies are given daily massage they have gained more weight and left hospital stronger than those who were not massaged. Ayurveda advises that massage should take place in a warm, quiet room. Also, due to the delicate newborn’s skin, a small dough ball should be used for massage in the first month. This can be made from atta flour and water, then rolled in a little boiled organic coconut milk, or sesame oil and turmeric. Baby massage enhances circulation, expels toxins, sharpens reflexes, aids digestion, reduces colic, and gives the baby a deep sense of security. By the second month, massage with boiled organic coconut milk or lakshadi oil is used, applying gentle hand strokes and incorporating some sensory-motor coordination exercises. Use light long strokes on the long bones, circular motions on the joints and gentle pressure in a clockwise direction on the abdomen helps to expel gas. At two months, oil such as brahmi oil may be applied to the scalp, stopping the initial ghee pad placed on the crown fontanel from birth. This acts as a brain, neuromuscular, and hair tonic as well as preventing cradle cap. The massage can last from ten to twenty minutes and is best done at least thirty minutes away from feeding. If the baby suffers from colic a washer dipped in warm water and a pinch of hing can be placed over its abdomen for a few minutes at the end of the session. The massage may be followed by a bath and a sleep.

Massage should be avoided if there are signs of fever or cold. Babies thrive from this tender touch and relaxing time with the parent. The ancient pediatric text Kashyapa Semite says massage is very important for the baby’s neuromuscular and central nervous system development as well as for weight gain, pain relief, improving skin tone, sleep, vision, and digestion. Massage sessions also provide a mother or father with a unique opportunity for quality time with their baby.

 Learn good techniques of Ayurvedic baby massage from us which flows from love rather than method.

The expression “I slept like a baby” must have been coined by a parent fortunate enough to have mastered the art of “baby whispering.” Indians have always used hammocks to lull their babies into a deep, cocooned slumber. These hammocks, now available in Western designs, are simple constructions of a spring hanging from the ceiling attached to a strong triangular frame from which a folded cloth hangs. The hammock is very comforting for the baby as it is like the womb environment with the snugly secure shape and the range of movements similar to sensations in utero. The baby’s slightly slanted position also prevents reflux and colic. Conventional cribs being firm and flat don’t provide the same swaddling comfort and can also lead to the baby developing a flat head. Babies also wake more peacefully in a hammock as its own movements initiate a reassuring bouncing action.

Babies can also be soothed if carried close and moved. Rather than straining the carer’s arms and back a carrier can be positioned so it gives the mother good symmetrical back support and the baby is positioned diagonally or horizontally rather than vertically inside. The trend for vertical baby carriers is contrary to the Ayurvedic ideal that a baby should be kept horizontal or with its weight evenly supported along its spine whilst the backbones and muscles are developing. If the head is unsupported the sudden jerking position of the head whip-ping back when made to sit upright can cause neurological and muscular weakness, possibly linked to kyphosis (a weak back) and some osteopaths even suspect a connection with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Carriers that put pressure on the sacrum and force the baby’s legs apart create an unnatural, stressful posture and are detrimental to the infant’s musculoskeletal development. A baby sling holds the baby in a natural fetal position just as they were inside the womb. If comfortable, it is also the perfect position for breastfeeding and also allows the mother to carry out two-handed tasks while still com-forting the baby. Slings are also helpful for babies who are slow to gain weight as they have been shown to gain more rapidly if carried in a sling for several hours a day, the proximity of the mother encouraging more regular feeding. Carrying a baby also reduces restlessness and colic and promotes cognitive development, motor skills and speech and builds a solid sense of security and self-esteem. The idea that infants who are carried will become dependant and clingy later on is unfounded. Babies that are carried feel more confident to explore by themselves at a younger age, and as adults display less aggression and better relating skills. There are some good slings available, or you can make your own from a length of soft cotton approximately 5 meters long and 30 inches wide.

The Vedic culture has prescribed rituals and rites of passage at various phases of an infant’s development. When the child has lived for a full lunar phase (28 days) this is celebrated by tying a protective yantra or blessed charm (tali) around the child’s waist with a string (this may be changed to a gold chain after six months). Another auspicious item that may be used is an ornament which consists of five metals (pan-cha-loha). This is said to protect the child from malefic planetary influences. Also from the 28th to the 56th day after delivery a special ceremony called dasandhya uzhiyal is conducted for the child. At sunset the grandmother or mother offer a flame first to a lit lamp three times clockwise chanting “Hare Krishna”then to the baby three times. She then places the wick in turmeric and limewater, touching the water to the baby three times. Finally, the baby is fed a paste of calamus, triphala, gold, butter, rudrakasham, chandana, and brahmi water to boost physical and mental well-being.

The name giving ceremony, nama-karana, takes place some time after the baby’s birth. In some traditions, the formal name is given when the child reaches six months. In the meantime pet names such as, “little goddess” and “little jewel” are used. This gives the parents time to observe the child’s character in order to select a name that is really apt. In choosing the name an astrologer, poojari, or guru may be consulted to ensure it has a beneficial sound vibration. An auspicious sounding name which is constantly repeated over the person’s life then acts as a mantra, attracting positive energy into their life. The astrologer calculates the best first syllable and the family agrees on a name they like starting with that. Once the name is selected the uncle or father first whispers it into the child’s right ear if it is a boy and the left ear for a girl. Only then may the name be spoken aloud.

The ear-piercing ceremony called karna ve-dhana samskara is performed by some castes on the sixth, seventh, or eight month. A jeweler generally performs this nowadays. The first ear to be pierced is the right one for a boy and the left ear for a girl. This immediately induces a cell-mediated response to boost the child’s immunity, though the earrings may be taken out after a week if desired.

Because a baby’s hair is considered too fine it is generally shaved off be-fore six months to promote healthy thick re-growth. This ceremony called mundana may be conducted by a barber. After shaving the hair a soothing balm of sandalwood and saffron paste is smeared over the head. This protects against infection and adds to the world’s most sublime scent — a baby’s head!

May we all appreciate these precious souls and the loving parents who hold the future in their hands.

Source : Dr R. Prasad

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)