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Monday, August 23, 2010

Postpartum therapies


There have been lots of beautiful babies come into my life this year and another just entered the world on the early hours of Saturday morning so I thought I'd have a look in my books to see what Ayurveda has to offer the postpartum mum.

I think we tend to focus a lot on the mother while she pregnant but once the baby has been born all the focus goes off the mother and onto the baby. This is of course fantastic for the baby but what about the mothers who have just spent 9 months making life and then hours in pain bringing it into the world. How much TLC do you think they need? In India things are different. The mother is really well looked after at least the first 2 months after the baby has arrived. They are also given ample help and support so they can gain their strength and nurse their baby. Their housework will be done by family and friends, their meals will be made, they are encouraged to sleep when the baby does and  they are massaged everyday!  I'm sure a lot new mothers living in a state of exhaustion would appreciate such treatment.

I have never had a baby so have no idea what happens to a woman during and after pregnancy. I can only imagine that there are a lot of changes on all levels, their body, mind and spirit would be all in a state of change and adjustment. As for how full of love for another life they must be that is something i guess only a parent can truely understand. How life altering becoming a mother must be! earlier this year I was able to see my nephew being born and have nothing but  total respect for any woman who has experienced labor!

So what are some Ayurvedic recommendations? Firstly, as is always so important in Ayurveda - look after your agni. Follow the rules on the link and make sure you are getting all the nutrients, flavours and energy possible from your food. Check your tongue. Are the edges scalloped? Does it look like your tongue has an imprint of your teeth on it? If it does you are not assimilating your nutrients and need to tend to your agni, your digestive fire.

Teas

Fenugreek tea is an easy and simple digestive tea that is also good for postpartum mums as it tones and strengthens the body.

  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (can find them in most supermarkets in the spice section)
  • hot water
  • honey optional

Another plus for those new mummies is increases milk production.
Other benefits of the tea is it strengthens the reproductive and respiratory systems and is good for anybody who has issues with water retention. 
It's a hot spice so it will increase pitta but will bring down both kapha and vata.

Cumin, coriander and fennel tea is also recommended.
  • Just add the three types of seeds to boiled water or simmer in a small pot for about ten minutes.
It is a good digestive, and will help with milk production. It will also regulate hormones so a great all round therapy for recovering mums.
It is also good for the nursing baby. If the mother drinks this tea regularly then the babies digestion will improve and gas will become less of an issue. 

Borrage, raspberry, nettle mint tea. Yes a little more obscure but a recommendation no less. Borrage is also known as starflower so ask around you might be able to get it where you live. It's worth a try.

Gokshura (Goatshead) tea.  From what I can gather goatshead is an obnoxious weed in the States. So if you happen to life in that part of the world get picking!
Apart from it being a reviving tea postpartum mums, gokshura also calms and soothes bladder infections,  benefits the kidneys and encourages fertility.

Essential oils

Sore nipples - 1 drop of rose oil to 20 mls of almond oil. Massage gently  but make sure you wash off completely before breast-feeding.

Post -natal depression- a jasmine is good for hormonal adjustments so lay in a bath with some jasmine oil, put a few drops on your pillow or burn it in an oil burner.  Ylang-ylang and clary are also good too.

Lactation- 2 drops of fennel oil in honey water every 2 hours helps to increase milk.

Mastitis- make a compress of 1 drop of geranium oil, 1 drop of lavender and 2 drops of rose in 850 mls of cold water.

Perineum healing- 2 drops of cypress oil and 3 drops of lavender in a shallow bath. Cypress with its constricting properties and astringency will work to close raw blood vessels. While lavender is healing, encourages new skin growth while protecting any raw areas.

Yoga

  • Chair Seated twist- Sit on a chair facing forward,  turn to the left and hold onto the back of the chair, twist and place your left hand on the outside of the right thigh. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Reclining twist- lay on your back and with your right leg bent so that the foot is on the floor. Twist to the left and let your knee drop. Hold your knee in place with your left hand and look over your right shoulder. repeat on opposite side.
  • Feet up wall - lay on your back and place you feet up the wall.
  • Boat with feet against wall. Lay on your back and bend your knees so that your feet rest against the wall and your knees form a 90 degree angle.
  • Bridge- lay on your back with your knees bent about hip width apart. raise your hips into the 
  • Knee to chest- lay on your back and hug your knees to your chest.
  • Corpse - lay straight on your back and relax.


All these poses are great for rebuilding the body after pregnancy and labor and for strengthening the body 




for motherhood. Hold all poses for a few breaths, breathing deeply focusing on the breath and sinking into the pose. 


* The above section on essential oils and yoga is taken from "The Ayurvedic Encyclopedia: natural secrets to Healing, Prevention and Longevity" By Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. Thank you Swami for your gift of knowledge.

And last but not least as I mentioned earlier all new mummies should be given a daily massage for at least 30 - 40 days after delivery. The baby should also be massaged and this should continue well into childhood.

Warm sesame oil is poured over the mother and massaged in. Use long strokes along the limbs and circular motions around the joints.  Allow the oil to soak in before gently washing it off. Pay special attention to the back and abdominal region. Sesame oil is very warming and good for balancing vata. It is also good for calming the nervous system, alleviating fatigue tone the uterus and detoxify the body. and on top of all that it feels amazing, relaxes you completely and nourishes the soul. It's a great way for the mother's partner to connect with her and support her. it's also a great way for both parents to bond and nourish their child.

So I hope that this helps all new mums and that they have a beautiful recovery and enjoy the beauty of motherhood.