May 29, 2008

Ayurveda Q&A with Dr. John Douillard: Pregnancy and Post-Partum Health

Q: How can using complementary therapy in late pregnancy affect labor, delivery and the precious first couple of weeks of postpartum? ~ Heatherlyn Ernst, owner of A Mellow Mood

A: This may come as a shock, but in Ayurveda it’s said that pregnancy and delivery is the most rejuvenating time of a woman’s life. Because of the intensity of the delivery process, every cell is transformed—if the new mother is cared for properly. Sadly, this rarely happens in the West: pregnancy and delivery have become debilitating experiences—I can’t tell you how many times female patients have lamented about some health concern that started after their pregnancies.

There are strict rules to follow to ensure these benefits—many Western women will find them impractical. New mothers in India do not leave their bedroom for the first two weeks post partum. They get massages every day, a special diet cooked for them, herbal medicines. They nurse, massage and bond with the baby as they rebuild each and every cell. In Perfect Health For Kids, I discuss research on how the baby’s heart entrains with the mother’s magnetic “heart-field,” which radiates 14 feet from the mother’s heart. As long as the baby is in that field, the baby feels safe, and entry into this new world is paved with love. This is a critical first step in early child development.

During the eighth and ninth months it is particularly vital for the mom to be happy, loved and secure. The job of the husband is to be by her side, to care for her every need. What the mother takes in, the baby becomes—so the mom should read inspiring books, listen to beautiful music and enjoy uplifting activities (including work). During the eighth month the mother should take extra care to rest, as this is a time when a subtle nutrient fluid, ojas, is passed from the mother to the baby, and the baby takes its first step towards self-sufficiency.

Gentle self-massage with an herbalized sesame oil is great for the mother during the entire pregnancy (with special attention to the belly). If post partum care is not available, a daily self-massage has a calming, rejuvenating effect on the nervous system—which the baby needs to develop, and the mom needs to rebuild.

Author of four Ayurvedic health and fitness books, DR. JOHN DOUILLARD directs LifeSpa, an Ayurvedic rejuvenation center in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and six children: lifespa.com

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