Ayurveda's Mindful Approach to Pregnancy
One of the many gifts of Ayurveda is an amazingly detailed protocol for parents-to-be in their quest to create healthy and happy progeny. Great care and attention is given to each step of the pregnancy process, from pre-conception all the way through postpartum. Shaaranya Geetanjali Chakraborty, a Vedika Certified Ayurveda Clinical Specialist and Director of Ayurveda Studies at Vedika, followed this protocol. She generously shared with me about her experiences in an interview, which I'm delighted to share with you here.
Shaaranya’s studies at Vedika emphasized the ancient Ayurvedic scientific traditions from India, in which it is believed that all four levels of human life (physical, mental, social and spiritual) are deeply interconnected. Vedika’s core values of sadhana (disciplined, committed spiritual practice), sangha (keeping uplifting company) and seva (selfless service) gave Shaaranya a lot of support, as she embodied these values during her pregnancy.
Beyond the Ayurvedic herbs she was prescribed for pregnancy, she reflects on how the most important aspects of her experience were her sadhana and sangha. Throughout the time of her pregnancy, Shaaranya surrounded herself with spiritual friends and community through attending classes and Sanghas at Vedika. She also credits the practice of meditation with providing her the strength to prepare for and endure a natural labor and delivery. Both her personal practice and the community of spiritually-minded people created a health-giving atmosphere for herself and her child.
“The biggest support and strength for me during pregnancy was having a good frame of mind,” says Shaaranya. “Because of the mental balance I gained through meditation, learning Ayurveda and living by Ayurveda’s daily routine (dinacharya) and seasonal regimen (ritucharya) guidelines, I feel I was able to prevent the mood swings pregnant women sometimes experience. This also helped me in terms of not having much morning sickness and headaches, swelling, pain and other common pregnancy-related imbalances.”
The classical Ayurveda texts reflect on the importance of consciously monitoring each thought, food and supplement a couple employs to have a child. Shaaranya took this wisdom to heart from the start, by planning her conception around her monthly cycle. “During conception, my husband and I really set an intention to invite a pure soul into our lives. We were thereby able to really make the act of conception a prayer this way.”
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of balance in all aspects of one’s life. Having followed so much of Ayurveda’s wisdom in their process of creating a new life, Shaaranya and her husband Somik were thrilled to meet their baby, who they accordingly named Samani. Literally translating as “equanimity” or “balance,” “it is a reminder to us as parents to continue to strive to stay in balance so we can really serve as role models for our daughter as she grows up and for the rest of her life.”
Maintaining physiological and psychological balance in the childbirth process doesn’t end with the delivery of the baby. While many people get excited to share their baby’s emergence into the world with family and friends immediately following birth, Ayurveda stresses the importance of a woman taking 40 days to rest following delivery.
This 40-day postpartum period involves as much isolation as possible, with very little talking, traveling, typing or any other type of exertion. Abstinence is also recommended during this time. This is because the post-pregnancy experience is supposed to ideally be treated as a wound-like situation in which a woman needs time to replenish all the lost energy from childbirth to prevent future complications.
Shubha Lisa Lesser, another graduate of Vedika Global, credits this period to helping her recover from a challenging second pregnancy experience. She reflects,
“My baby and I didn’t leave the house for the 40 days following pregnancy and then I felt great by the 41st day when we did go out. A few weeks later, I felt the difference in my system, with less aches and pains in my body and a lot more energy overall than I experienced after my first pregnancy."
The author Ananta Ripa Ajmera is a long-term student of Acharya Shunya, and serves as the Director of Program Development at Vedika Global as well as the Director of Yoga Studies and Director of Marketing.
Learn more about how you can study Vedanta with Acharya Shunya in her Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.