Honouring the Birth Body with Ayurveda 

Ayurveda Mamma

By Deborah Rose Schoutema

As your pregnancy progresses, the Explore Page on your IG slowly becomes a portal into an endless rabbit hole about labour. Janet from Bondi does the three funny walks to open her hips, Cherry from Oregon downs her 6 dates a day with the help of homemade almond milk, all the while badassmotherbirther lets you know you’ve got this, one positive birth story at a time.

And once you’ve brought baby earthside, that portal changes into all things baby. All your questions about colic, sleep, and milestones are anecdotally answered by your peer mums on this journey. Meanwhile, 72% of those mothers feel invisible. According to the same study, a further 93% feel unappreciated or unacknowledged by their friends, family and healthcare professionals.

It’s not how longstanding traditions of honouring the mother had imagined the lived experience of having a baby. The Vedic tradition for one has centered a whole group of Goddesses around the Mother Archetype (Mahavidyas). In likeness to the Ocean, the mother’s cooling, deep, and nurturing qualities are celebrated along with her wild side. Growth and rebirth were found in her tides, influenced by the Moon. Giving birth to your own flesh and blood is a coherent part of that cycle. In birthing your baby, you also give birth to your new self. Again, and again, if you choose to give birth more than once. And although mums’ rebirth may go unseen by the world we live in today, you can still set yourself up for a Sacred Fourth Trimester that honours both, you and your baby.

I am an Ayurvedic Vaidya and postnatal doula, and here are five questions I’m asked the most, answered.

“What are the first 42 days?”

42 days for 42 years is a principle observed by ancient civilisations across the planet. Since Ayurveda is my main modality, I will focus on what the Vedic Tradition has to say about it. The level of care the mother receives during the first 42 days – or six weeks for that matter – is believed to reflect on her reproductive health in the 42 years that follow. In other words, it will benefit the mother beyond menopause. Western medicine agrees in that the typical advice at discharge after birth tells you to allow your body six weeks to heal from perineal tearing, reposition your uterus and surrounding abdominal organs, and tailor your milk supply to your baby’s needs. These six weeks lay the foundation for your physical health in the years to come. In addition to the mother’s health, these first few weeks also set your baby up for a life filled with healthy relationships. Here too, today’s science (a.k.a the attachment theory) agrees.

Lastly, as an old Irish proverb says, “A good start is half the work”. A new beginning gives for an opportunity-rich timeframe to weave new habits into your lifestyle. So when a mother allows herself self-prescribed self-care such as a postnatal massage, heavenly perineum care to combat swelling and stinging, herbalised massage oil for a much-needed nervous system reset and abdominal wrapping to help bring the bones back together, she will, by default, condition her brain to link mothering with self-care. Increasing the odds of treating self-care as a need rather than a luxury going forward. Which, in turn, teaches her children about self-love and self-respect.

“Can Ayurveda help prevent a prolapse?”

Yes! Apart from practising good old kegels leading up to birth, abdominal massage as part of the Ayurvedic postnatal treatment, movement therapy, womb toning herbs like pomegranate and wrapping your belly after birth can all contribute to a healthy, toned, and well-placed uterus.

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