If you decided that you wanted a garden, you would take several steps before planting the seeds. You would select the right spot where the sun will best nourish the plants. You would amend the soil so it is rich with life-giving nutrients. You would draw up a plan for planting so that your zucchini doesn’t overtake your oregano. With this beautiful foundation laid, you would plant your seeds and soon relish in abundant growth.
Ayurveda asks us to see our bodies as one with nature. So when it comes to bringing a baby into life, give your body, mind and spirit the same attention you would your garden.
Many couples have found that an Ayurvedic approach to starting a family results in blessings that go far beyond the birth of their little one. When both parents are balanced going into pregnancy, the child can be nourished in the best possible way in utero. And after the little one arrives, the entire family can experience greater ease and joy by embracing health and peace through Ayurvedic living.
Steps to preparing your fertile garden
During our childbearing years, it is our natural state to be fertile. Yet imbalances caused by food, stress and unresolved emotions get in the way of the ability to create new life. The Ayurvedic texts suggest a preparation period for both parents lasting between six and 12 months before attempting to conceive (the length of time varies based on the state of imbalance or if there is disease present). This may seem like a long time to wait, but bringing balance to your body and mind before the baby comes is a worthwhile investment that will help you be healthier and more present with your child for the rest of your life.
This period will be different for everyone, and it’s best to work with a trusted practitioner if you are new to Ayurveda or want additional guidance. Below are a few of the most important steps to take in this preparation time so that you can enter parenthood with greater wisdom, love and connection.
A child’s prakruti, or constitution, is determined by the vikruti, or current state of balance, of both parents at the moment of conception. This is why it is so important for parents to establish vitality before the baby is conceived. Undergoing panchakarma at the beginning of this preparation period is a great way to release ama, toxins, and restore agni so that your body can access its natural ability to heal. But panchakarma isn’t just about releasing toxins – it can serve as the starting point for creating healthy eating and lifestyle habits that will make feeling well a part of your family’s daily experience.
There are many ways to bring Ayurveda into your life: Add a day of kitchadi a week to allow your digestion to reset (pause this during pregnancy), include ghee and augmenting foods in each meal, chew each bite until it is liquid and make a commitment to prepare your meals fresh with ingredients that have never seen a chemical, freezer, factory or microwave (browse Ayurvedic recipes on our blog or Simple Ayurvedic Recipes for inspiration).
Once you have welcomed a new health-giving diet, you can begin incorporating herbs that encourage the body to heal. Shatavari and ashwagandha have been used for centuries to lower the body’s response to stress and enhance reproductive health for both women and men. Here is a simple and powerful rejuvenative that is easy to make at home:
Ashwaganda and Shatavari ksheer, milk (serves 2)
1. Place 1 tsp. ashwaganda and 1 tsp. shatavari in 1 cup water and 1 cup organic whole cow milk (preferably raw or non-homogenized). Bring the mixture to a boil then turn to simmer until 1 cup liquid remains.
2. Strain to remove the residue. Enjoy this with a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom or just plain. Add a little jaggery (raw sugar) if desired.
A diet aligned with Ayurveda can be a big shift from modern ideas about food, so it’s important to ease your way into these changes and experience the results. When the baby arrives, Ayurveda can be a bond that unites the whole family in health.
Ojas, or vitality, is a substance and an energy in your body that plays a big role in reproductive health. Stress and mental anxiety, which are rampant today, quickly deplete ojas. Ayurveda and Yoga offer many ways for you to regain your health. One of the simplest and most profound changes you can make is establishing a dinacharya. Building a simple structure into your day increases the time you spend in self-care (build in time for meditation, asana and abhyangha), which will enhance your ability to be effective, efficient and productive in your life. You’ll also find that having a regular schedule will balance vata dosha, leading to less anxiety and fear and greater creative energy.
Parents-to-be can sit down together and create a workable routine that takes the guesswork out of the day. Having a baby will definitely change your dinacharya, but the more established you are in a consistent practice that guides you toward self-love, the easier it will be to find stability when the baby comes.
For even more self-love, add making these ojas-building dates soaked in ghee to your dinacharya.
Ojas-building dates soaked in ghee:
1. Slice and remove pits from one cup of fresh dates and place them in a glass jar.
2. Make a batch of ghee and pour it over the dates.
3. Store in a dark cupboard for at least two weeks then enjoy daily as part of a meal.
Many people have fears about becoming pregnant or having a child, even if it’s something they truly want. These fears may or may not be on the surface, but as long as they are unresolved, they will affect conception and your ability to be fully present for your child. Use the preparation period to face the fears so that you don’t have to stumble through them after the baby is born. Try meditation, journaling or our Intuitive Energy Practice guided meditations and healings. Use this time to focus on revealing and releasing limiting beliefs or old emotions. Through this work, you can become the most authentic version of yourself and grow your ability to love without limits.
Once you are ready to conceive, having an established practice to identify and release emotions will keep your energy moving. You may not get pregnant right away (although it can happen!), but you always have the choice to trust the process. It will happen in perfect timing.
Providing a soul with a body gives that soul the opportunity to move toward enlightenment. This is why parenthood is a wonderful dharma. Approaching this role with consciousness, patience and care makes the experience much more rewarding for your family and the world your child will live in tomorrow.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ayurvedic approach to women’s health and how to support women to achieve their optimal state of being, apply for Embracing Shakti: Ayurvedic women's health and healing certification, this November 14-20 on Kaua’i.