Are you a woman on the journey to becoming a mama? Or perhaps you're supporting someone through a pregnancy. Either way, this post is for you. Every woman's pregnancy journey is unique. If you are pregnant, remember to always consult a doctor for your health needs. With that said, let's dive into incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your pregnancy.
I believe Ayurveda during pregnancy promotes mental, physical and spiritual growth throughout the process. The science of Ayurveda has everything to do with pregnancy in all its natural glory as the practice is driven by our connection to nature. In fact, the three Ayurvedic doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each govern one of the three trimesters of pregnancy.
By incorporating Ayurvedic practices into your pregnancy journey, you will feel in touch with yourself and your needs while nourishing the new life that you're bringing into the world. In this post, we'll go over the relationship between the doshas and each trimester as well as what you can do to best take care of your body and your growing baby during this momentous time in your life.
The First Trimester: The Movement of Vata
Vata is the dosha of movement and in many ways, pregnancy embodies this quality. Your body shifts rapidly as it makes room for the life growing inside you. In fact, you will experience an increase in the qualities of all three doshas during your pregnancy. But that growth in itself is all about movement which brings us back to Vata.
While movement is beautiful, when exacerbated it can cause excess anxiety. Stress management is so important during this time. The key is to slow it down. We don't want to welcome the baby into an anxious environment. Fortunately, there are easy steps to take in your diet, exercise and spiritual practice that will ease these qualities. Check out these adjustments that you can make to pacify the Vata in you.
Vata Pacifying Foods
As we've discussed in previous posts about Vata imbalance, unctuous, oily foods with warming spices offer qualities to pacify Vata. Stews, soups and roasted veggies give your body a wonderful grounded feeling. If you're pregnant, incorporating foods that give you ojas, or life force and vitality, alongside Vata pacifying foods will nourish you and your baby.
Foods like high quality milk, butter, ghee (clarified butter), buttermilk, and yogurt will give you the ojas you need during this time. Warm, buttery, spiced milk will go right to the reproductive system and support your body as it prepares to create the milk for the baby.
Vata Pacifying Activities
During the first trimester we may not be showing but a lot is happening internally. Try to avoid a lot of travel, intense cardio or even packing your schedule with tons of errands. Gentle exercise like walking and prenatal yoga will help you stay active while remaining grounded. Focus on grounding positions like mountain pose, warrior pose and downward dog. Holding these creates a sense of stability.
The Second Trimester: The Fiery Pitta
While the movement of the first trimester can elicit morning sickness and destabilizing feelings, the fire of Pitta impacts the second trimester most. This fire can manifest in indigestion, heart burn and increased intensity in your emotions. This is the time to incorporate Pitta pacifying techniques to cool that agitation and fire down.
Even as you engage in these Pitta pacifying tips, remember that strong emotions are normal and okay. In fact, you can honor them. Think about it - by the end of the third month the heart of the baby has formed. You have two hearts in you at once! According to Ayurvedic thinking, the baby can still remember past lives during this time. Whatever your spiritual practice may be, remember that it's okay to feel strongly during this time.
Pitta Pacifying Foods
If you are experiencing cravings, Ayurveda encourages you honor them. However if you're already experiencing heart burn or indigestion, try to avoid fried, excessively spicy and highly acidic foods. I suggest favoring nourishing and cooling foods like corn, cucumber coconut water and watermelon. Additionally, continue to drink the ojas filled, high quality milk.
Pitta Pacifying Activities
I recommend continuing to engage in restorative yoga. Long, slow stretches will also ease an agitated fire. Try to connect with your sense of spirituality. This can mean speaking affirming mantras, praying and/or connecting to gratitude. Take the focus off of yourself for a moment to calm the fire in your mind. Additionally, if you want to take a vacation, now is great time to do it.
The Third Trimester: The Grounded Kapha
Kapha possesses a wonderfully grounded quality that supports Ayurveda during pregnancy. However, when exacerbated, Kapha leaves us feeling stuck. This can manifest in feeling resentful. Maybe you're tired of having to move so slowly or dwelling on the discomforts of pregnancy. It's important to understand that while it is true, the baby is too big for you to move quickly, you can still incorporate gentle movement into your routine to avoid feeling stuck.
Kapha Pacifying Foods
Because you've been growing and making room for your baby for 7-8 months, your digestive track may be irritated. I recommended eating foods that are easily digestible like cooked down rice. Additionally, continue to drink your spiced, buttery milk for nourishing health and vitality.
Kapha Pacifying Activities
As we know, now is the time to slow down. We can’t force ourselves to meet crazy work deadlines anymore. If you're someone who usually works 12-14 hour days, you need to reevaluate your schedule and the amount projects that you can take on.
As you slow down and prioritize rest, continue to incorporate gentle movement into your routine. You can start to add more heart opening stretches into your yoga asana practice to relieve back and neck tension. Gentle walks are great as well in order to keep you strong without adding any unnecessary tension to your muscles.
Ayurveda Pregnancy: A Fulfilling Journey to Parenthood
Whether you're at the beginning or the end of the pregnancy, remember to prioritize rest. This is an emotionally, physically and spiritually expansive time for your body. It is a truly beautiful process even during the less than pleasant symptoms. If there's a time to vigilantly honor all of your body's needs, this is it.