If you decided that you wanted a garden, you wouldn’t just put seeds in the ground. You would first select the right spot where the sun will best nourish the plants. Next, you would nourish the soil so it is rich with life-giving nutrients. Finally, you would draw up a plan so that your kale doesn’t crowd your oregano. With this beautiful foundation laid, you would then 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.
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. Ayurveda suggests 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. However, bringing balance to your body and mind before the baby comes will help you be healthier and more present with your child for the rest of your life.
This period will be different for everyone. 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 or imbalance, 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 some form of panchakarma at the beginning of this preparation period is a great way to release ama, toxins, and restore agni, digestive fire, 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). Increase ghee and chew each bite until it is liquid. Make a commitment to prepare your meals with ingredients that have never seen a chemical, freezer, factory or microwave. My book, Simple Ayurvedic Recipes, has many ideas 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 powerful rejuvenative that is easy to make at home:
Ashwaganda and shatavari ksheer (milk)
Place 1 tsp. ashwaganda and 1 tsp. shatavari in 1 cup water and 1 cup organic whole cow milk (preferably raw or at least non-homogenized). Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer until 1 cup liquid remains.
Strain and discard the residue. Enjoy with a pinch of cinnamon and cardamom or just plain. Add a little jaggery (raw sugar) if desired.
Ojas, or vitality, is a substance and an energy in your body that plays a big role in reproductive health. Stress and mental anxiety deplete ojas faster than anything else. 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, or daily routine. Building a simple structure into your day increases the time you spend in self-care. It allows you to build in time for meditation, Yoga asana and abhyangha, which will enhance your ability to be more productive in your life. You’ll also find that having a regular schedule will balance vata dosha, leading to less anxiety and greater creative energy.
Having a baby will definitely change your dinacharya, but the more established you are in a consistent practice, the easier it will be to find stability when the baby comes.
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 or journaling to reveal and release 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.
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.