Concept of Safe Motherhood in Ayurveda -1

by Dr.(Mrs.) Kumud Nagral*

Ayurved, the ancient Indian medical science, describes "safe motherhood" Thus, "Motherhood is the basis of family life which, in turn, is the backbone of all the orders of society. Hence, family life remains protected if the woman is safe and protected."

Charak samhita states-

‘Evam kurvati hi arogya-bala-varna-samvahana-sampadam upetam jnatinam shreshtam apatyam janayati’

If a pregnant woman is taken care of as advised, she will give birth to a child who does not have any diseases - a healthy, physically strong, radiant and well nourished baby. He will be superior to all in the race.

This great science compares conception to the germination and sprouting of a seed and its transformation into a sapling. When the male and female seeds unite and the soul enters the union, it becomes an embryo (garbha). Ayurved gives importance to the quality of the seed and hence, to the development during adolescence, of both the male and the female. In addition to the female seed, the mother also provides the 'soil, nutrition and the right season' for the seed to grow. Hence, Ayurved advises special attention to be paid to the nutrition and protection of the woman to keep her (the soil) rich and clean. It further advises that a female under sixteen years of age and a male under twenty should not bear a child. The rules of sexual intercourse are also laid down. So also, those of antenatal care: the husband and other family members are advised to take care of the pregnant woman's diet and encourage activities that are dear to her and beneficial to the foetus or child growing in her body. Thus, the approach towards motherhood, that is pregnancy and childbirth, is a holistic one. Such concepts are excellent, but the question is are they practiced? In fact, it needs thorough introspection on our part to find out why this approach was abandoned.

Garbhini Vyakaran

Ayurved describes the general management of pregnancy under Garbhini Vyakaran. There are separate chapters for general management, special management, diseases in pregnancy and their treatment and so on. Rules concerning diet, activities, behavior and mental activity (ahar, vihar, achar and vichar respectively) are also laid down. The physician is cautioned and advised to be very careful about the management of pregnancy: if a vessel filled with oil right up to the brim is to be carried without spilling even a single drop, every step has to be carefully watched. The same is the case in the management of a pregnant woman. The physician should aim at protecting and nourishing both the foetus and the mother.

From the moment the pregnancy is confirmed, the woman is advised to follow certain rules. The physician steps in and starts supervision so that the pregnancy can terminate in a normal delivery at the scheduled time. Especially when she approaches full term, critical care is necessary as one of her feet is considered to be in this world and the other in the world of Yama (the god of death). Delivery is not complete unless the placenta is delivered. If the delivery is not normal, says this ancient science; the woman is likely to be affected by one or the other of a list of 64 ailments, which are described in detail in Garbhini Vyakaran.

Sometimes, even an expert can get baffled by situations arising during the course of pregnancy and the post-delivery period. Hence, the physician has to have foresight, definite convictions, expertise, experience and compassion while taking on the responsibility of a pregnant woman. He has to think of the welfare of two individuals at the same time - that of the mother and the foetus. Both are to be nourished and protected. The requirements of both are usually identical. But, if they happen to clash, the protection of the mother should be the priority.

If a couple desires to have a good progeny, both the partners should be careful about their diet, activities, behavior and emotional status before as well as after conception. One has to keep this in mind throughout the pregnancy.

General Rules from Inception of Pregnancyto Delivery

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.)

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.

She should always avoid -

  • Excessive sex particularly during early and late pregnancy
  • Overeating or fasting
  • Sleeping during the day time and staying up late at night
  • Tight clothes and tight belts
  • Witnessing or listening to things which give rise to feelings of sorrow, anger, horror or agony
  • Travelling in a vehicle on rough roads
  • Squatting for a long time or sitting in an uncomfortable position or on a hard surface
  • Lifting heavy things or remaining in a bending position for a long time
  • Oleation massage etc. unless positively indicated
  • Beholding natural urges unless in an emergency
  • Dry, stale, fermented, heavy, hot or strong food, alcohol and meat (fish is allowed)
  • Visiting abandoned and remote places
  • Leaning into a deep well.

Continue - Garbhini Parichaya >>>>

This Ebook , by Dr. Sunanda Ranade B.A.M&S; PhD, has got one complete section on pregnancy, month wise regimen for pregnant women, diet exercise and diseases in pregnancy.

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