Pregnancy is the biggest gift from nature to women. Prasoothi literally means an expecting woman. Prasoothi tantra refers to the health conditions, diseases and their treatments, and special treatment food and lifestyle modification that lead to the birth of a healthy child.
And it is the responsibility of both men and women both. Care during each month of pregnancy (Antenatal Care) is called Masanumasiki (month-to-month) Chikitsa (treatment) in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, a different dhatu (a body-building substance) is formed in different month of pregnancy in the body.
Prasoothi Tantra has three divisions
1. (Garbhini Paricharya) or Ante-natal phase which denotes to diagnosis of pregnancy and the care for a garbhini (pregnant woman).
2. Prasava Kaala Paricharanam (Prasava Kaala Paricharya) or natal phase starts with labour pains and ends with delivery of placenta.
3. Soothika Paricharanam (Soothika Paricharya) or Post Natal Phase Â– deals with the care of the newborn baby and the nursing mother.
According to Ayurveda Ahara (diet), Vihara (lifestyle) and Vichara (thought process) are the prime factors to be stressed on a pregnant women.
Life style: The pregnant mother should always remain calm, cool and mentally happy. She should avoid mental stress, heated arguments, tension and worry as the mental health of the offspring will relate to that of the mother.
The mother-to-be should –
- Always try to be in a happy mood
- Be clean, neat and well dressed
- Wear simple clothes
- Sleep under a roof in a clean environment (not infested with insects such as mosquito’s etc.)
Yoga: Yoga and meditation are proven and effective ways to develop and maintain perfect harmony and balance in body systems. It improves emotional health of the pregnant women, reduces pregnancy side effects like headaches, fatigue and constipation, provides immunity against all diseases and alters brain wave activities reflecting in an increased relaxation and a better focused mind.
Mountain pose, Triangle pose, Warrior pose, Standing side stretch, Forward bend pose, Corpse pose, Cat pose and Fish pose are recommended during pregnancy.
Diet : The food she eats should be tasty, more of it should be in a liquid form, moist, nourishing, enriched with all the six rasas (tastes) and treated by deepan drugs which are known to increase appetite and digestive power. Drinking a glass of milk is very helpful as provides calcium, lactose and butter fat.
- Living on liquid diet like fruit juice, coconut water, milk is very beneficial for the nouriushment of the child during the early 3 months.
- Reduce fats, salt and water during your last three months.
- Cereals like – wheat, oats, rye, whole meal bread, and pulses like – dried peas, bean sprouts, lentils, chickpeas, soya-beans are good source of protein.
- Fresh green leafy vegetables like – spinach, lettuce, celery are must along with potatoes.
- Fruits like – apple, banana, and citrus fruits like – lemon (juices), grapes, orange and pineapple should be consumed.
- Dried fruits including dates, figs and almonds are good.
- Butter, ghee, fish and egg can be included in diet.
- Avoid fried, salty or greasy foods strictly.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol and avoid sex.
- Eat lightly but frequently.
- Should eat satvik food; i.e neither hot, spicy, sour nor have other irritants.
- Homemade foods are mostly preferred.
Interestingly, the suggested Ayurvedic diet correlates to modern nutrition recommended for pregnant women such as high protein, vitamins and minerals.
Diet regulations for Pregnancy Care
In the first month, milk and a light diet is recommended; in the second and third months, milk medicated with life-building herbs such as Vidari, Shatavari (Asparagus), Yashtimadhu (Licorice) and Brahmi are prescribed along with honey and ghee. Brahmi helps in calming the nerves and is also a good prajasthapan (sustainer of pregnancy).
Ayurveda considers consumption of milk to be of utmost importance as it is a source of calcium, protein, lactose and butter fat. Milk is a complete food and can be consumed at any time. From the seventh month onwards, consumption of fat and salts should be reduced. However, rice kanji with ghee is beneficial. Also herbs such as gokshura and sariba that are mild diuretics and urinary antiseptics can be taken during this period. Medicated ghee preparations (Griha) like phala sarpis, kalyaanaka gritham and sukha prasava gritham can beconsumed.