Concept of Safe Motherhood in Ayurveda -3

by Dr.(Mrs.) Kumud Nagral*


The Sootikagar should be such as to meet seasonal needs. The type of land, the timber used for the building, the architectural layout of the area (the bath room, toilet, kitchen, fire place, delivery room), the type of fire wood used, the water supply and so on are described in detail. Materials such as linen, needles and instruments, essential drugs and furniture are also specified. The house should be fumigated to make it free from insects. Porous bags containing rakshoghna drugs should be suspended all around - at the entrance and at the corners - to ward off insects, bacteria and unseen evil elements (rakshoghna drugs are supposed to kill or repel them). These drugs are calamus asafoetida, garlic, Guggulu and Sarshap.

The nurse or birth attendant recommended by Ayurved, should be experienced, friendly, alert, expert, affectionate by nature, concerned and caring. The attending physician should be an expert.

Treatment Of Diseases During Pregnancy

Any disease occurring in a pregnant woman should be treated with drugs that are mild in action, compatible and safe to the foetus. Panchakarma (detoxifying procedures) should not be advocated, except basti (enema) and pichu (tampon) in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy.

Ayurved also describes nine diseases, which are caused because of the pregnant status of the woman. These diseases are peculiar to pregnancy and are called garbhopadravas. They are: nausea, anorexia, vomiting, dryness of mouth, fever, oedema, anaemia, diarrhoea and retention of urine. Their specific treatments are also elaborately described.

As far as possible, medication should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy. Only symptomatic treatment with very mild herbs and a suitable diet should be offered. The physician is advised to take into account the severity of the disease, the resistance power of the mother and the duration of the pregnancy, and choose the middle path so that the disease or the treatments do not result in sequelae in the mother or the foetus. For example, the use of Dashamularisht in vatic fever, cold infusion of Glycerriza lotus and Sariva in paittic fever and Guduchi vasa quash in kapha fever to bring down temperature. Similar special treatments are advised for other diseases. Drugs such as Vacha, Kumari, myrrh, are contraindicated in pregnancy and substances like garlic and asafoetida are to be used cautiously.

Different types of obstructed labor and their management with maneuvers, especially internal rotation, are also described in this section. If the physician notices that the disease is going to be dangerous to the mother, especially in the garbhopadravas, no time should be lost in terminating the pregnancy.

Even three thousand years ago, thus, Ayurved had stressed the importance of safe motherhood. It aims at excellence in the formation of the foetus, its development without anomalies, a comfortable full term delivery, and maintenance of the health of the mother. Today, with a better understanding of the physio-pathological processes and the advancement of allied sciences, we have put together a safe motherhood program for women in the form of a package namely, combating anemia, immunization of the mother, regular antenatal check up to detect any pathology in the foetus or the mother, to predict the course of delivery and, take appropriate interventions if necessary, and finally, the delivery by a trained person. But, if we really wish to bring down maternal mortality in a big way, the Ayurved approach can certainly contribute in a significant manner. Some areas where integration can be thought of are -

  • Incorporation of Do's and Don'ts in antenatal counseling;
  • Giving due importance to the psychological and emotional aspects of the pregnant woman, and her daily routine;
  • Laying stress on care by the husband and other family members;
  • Supplementing her diet with folic acid and Shatavari during the first trimester;
  • Using Ashwagandha during the second trimester to improve immunity and to prevent IUGR;
  • Giving supplements of iron and calcium with herbal preparations; and
  • Adopting the beneficial concepts of the sootikagar.

An integrated program for safe motherhood may be evolved by using these suggestions. I wish to conclude with a quotation from Maharshi Kashyap, which means: "Out of sheer love, affection and compassion, the would-be mother bears all the agony to protect the child with grace and dignity. That is really the greatness of MOTHERHOOD."

Nagral, Kumud: Concept of Safe Motherhood in Ayurved. The Journal of Family Welfare. June 1997. 43(2). P. 53-57. Location : SNDT Churchgate.
Dr. (Mrs.) Kumud Nagral is an Integrated Family Physician and Convenor of FPAI's project with the National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA), Mumbai, India.

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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