Post-natal care in Ayurveda

Post-natal period (after delivery) is a very crucial time in a woman’s life just like pregnancy. Due to the efforts of child-birth, the female body becomes so debilitated with lot of blood and fluid loss. The woman needs extra care to regain the normal health both physically and mentally. All the practices meant for this purpose are assigned as post-natal care. Also, there may be psychological distress following severe labour pain. 

Post-natal period

   There are a lot of opinion about the duration of post-natal period, like it starts from the moment of child-birth and up to 45 days/ 90 days/ the time breast feeding continues etc. In short, the period taken for returning to the normal/ previous lifestyle can be considered as post-natal period. 

The post-natal period can be divided into 3 phases – immediate phase (24 hour after child birth), early phase (up to 1 week) and remote phase (up to 6 weeks). Ayurvedic post-natal care starts from 5th day or after healing the stitch wound (at the perinium) in normal delivery; and after healing the wound on abdomen in caesarean delivery. 

What are the health problems in post-natal period?

Physical issues 

 The common physical problems are back pain, abdominal bloating, sleep issues, urinary infections, constipation, muscle pain etc. 

Mental issues 

 In the post-natal period, most of the women pass through a phase of psychological discomforts due to the labour pain she has experienced, maladaptation with the new circumstance, sleep issues, hormonal changes etc. Common problems are mood changes, depression, excess anger, helplessness etc. Post-partum depression is another serious condition that need specific medical support. The mental health of feeding mother is very much important as small emotional disturbances can affect the quality and quantity of breast milk. 

What Ayurveda says about post-natal period

 After delivery, there will be dhatukshaya (debilitated tissues), agnimandya (reduced digestive power) and vatavruddhi (aggravation of vata due to labour). But, at the same time the sutika (woman after delivery) has to feed the baby and take care of herself and the new born, which need certain effort. The Vyadhikshamatwa (immunity) also is in a reduced state, and therefor the risk of infection is more during this time. 

What all are the post-natal care in Ayurveda?

 All the efforts in the Ayurvedic post-natal care are designed for pacifying vata, improving agni, regaining the normal state of dhatu/ tissues, compensating the blood loss, increasing the production of breast milk, cleansing the uterine cavity, preventing infections of birth canal, and increasing immunity as well as body strength. Internal medications, dietary as well as lifestyle modifications are started as early as possible in order to achieve all these goals. Abhyanga (oil massage), swedana (by bathing in hot water boiled with medicinal leaves), siropichu (retention of suitable oil/ medicinal powder over the head), bandaging over abdomen etc are the major procedures performed. 

Dietary changes

 The diet of woman in post-natal period must be easy to digest light food with less spices. Semi-solid and liquid food are recommended. The dietary modifications are meant for strengthening and nourishing the woman’s body as well as enhancing lactation. Consume more sour tasting fruits/ fruit juices, pulses, green vegetables etc as per the guidance of physician. In order to enhance the milk, special recipes are prepared with njavra rice, coconut, milk, green gram, finger millet (raggi), jaggery, fenugreek, garlic, shallot, moringa leaves etc. For preventing urinary infections, water boiled with seeds of Tribulus terrestris, Boerhavia diffusa etc are useful. 

Lifestyle modifications

 Avoid strenuous physical activities and mental stress. Take appropriate rest and ensure adequate sleep. Maintain personal hygiene. For bathing, specially prepared water processed with leaves of medicinal plants is recommended that can alleviate aggravated vata. After healing the stitch, special oil massage is advised before bath in order to tackle the dhatukshaya and vatavruddhi. For cosmetic purposes as well as regaining the strength of abdominal muscles (that has lost its elasticity due to pregnancy and delivery), abdominal bandaging is done with cloth soaked with suitable medicinal oil. To reduce the swelling over legs and feet, lepana (external application) with suitable powdered medicine can be done. 

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