Garbhini Paricharya or antenatal care is an important aspect in Prasooti Tantra (Ayurvedic Obstetrics), as it will help in the proper development of the foetus, its delivery, the health of the mother, facilitate easy delivery and healthy postpartum period. The care of the pregnant woman reflects on the quality and health of the offspring. Garbhini Paricharya explains in detail about the month wise dietary regimen and prescriptions (Maasaanumasika Pathya), substances that are beneficial to pregnancy (Garbhasthaapaka dravyaas) and activities and substances that are harmful (Garbhopaghaathakara Bhaavas). Various foods and activities that are prescribed and proscribed, according to their effects on the Garbha (Foetus) are also explained.
As there is a constant development of the embryo there would also be difference in its requirements of food and nutrition. Thus a detailed month wise dietary regimen for the pregnant lady with a list of things that are prescribed and proscribed is explained in Ayurveda right from the first month upto the ninth month of pregnancy, which will help in proper growth of the foetus, promoting strength of the foetus as well as the pregnant lady, preventing common discomforts during pregnancy and leading to downward movement of Vata thereby helping in timely and easy delivery of the healthy child endowed with strong immunity and excellent qualities.
Recommended diet and regimen for various months
Diet and herbs during First trimester
- During the first three months of pregnancy, the fetus is in a formative stage and is nourished directly by ‘upsnehan’ or percolation; therefore, a mother-to-be should take light diet and plenty of liquids as well as juicy fruits, coconut water and milk. Ayurveda considers cow’s milk an ideal constituent in the diet of pregnant women as it is a source of calcium, lactose, clarified butter, moderate amounts of protein with anabolic properties that impart strength.
- Also most women experience nausea and vomiting during this period thus cannot take proper diet. Use of cold, sweet liquid diet and milk will prevent dehydration and supply nourishment.
- Herbs such as Vidari, Shatavari, Yasthimadhu, Parushaka and Brahmi are anabolic and promote growth of the foetus. Cow’s milk, honey, butter and ghee are also recommended. Brahmi helps calm the nerves and is also a good prajasthapan (sustainer of pregnancy).
- Ginger tea helps prevent morning sickness.
Diet and herbs during Fourth month
- In fourth month – Milk with 1-tablespoon butter, Shashtika rice with curd, soup of meat of wild animals are advised. This is because fourth month onwards muscular tissue of foetus grows sufficiently requiring more protein, which is supplied by use of meat soup.
- A mother will also instinctually crave tastes to balance her and the baby. This especially manifests during the fourth month when the child’s heart develops and the mother becomes known as ‘the one with two hearts’ (dauhrudini). It is said that the child’s desires are expressed through the mother’s cravings and the baby will be healthy if their desires are fulfilled with judicious moderation. Healthy alternatives may be substituted for unhealthy desires. For example a craving for chocolate, which is acidic, may be substituted for alkalising carob. Sugar cravings can be managed with maple or rice syrup.
Diet and herbs during Fifth month
- Ghee, Shashtika rice cooked in milk, rice gruel, meat of wild animals, rice cooked with milk is advised.
Diet and herbs during Sixth month
- Ghee medicated with Shatavari or Gokshura is recommended. Intake of cow’s ghee and Sweetened curd is also advised. During the end of second trimester most women suffer from edema of feet and other complications of water accumulation. Use of Gokshura which is a diuretic will prevent water retention and its complications.
Diet and herbs during Seventh month
- Regimen advised is same as sixth month. Sweetened ghee, ghee medicated with Vidarigandha group of herbs (vidari, gokshura, shatavari, punarnava, sariva, kaunch). Vidarigandha group of drugs are diuretic, anabolic and relieve emaciation, mitigates pitta and vata, maintains health of mother and foetus.
- Fat, salt and water should be taken in small quantities in the diet from the seventh month onwards.
- During the seventh month, the uterus is enlarged due to growing foetus and produces stretching of abdominal skin, which causes itching, and striations. This is known as Kikkisa (Striae gravidarum). Apply the paste of sandalwood or paste made of Neem, basil and Manjistha or oil medicated with jasmine. Irrigation of abdomen and breasts should be done with decoction of neem, manjishta and basil.
Diet and herbs during Eighth month
- Rice gruel prepared with milk and mixed with ghee and liquid diet is advised. This is the time when yastimadhu and satavari should be consumed regularly and the use of dried grapes is also beneficial.
- Anuvasana basti is also advised which helps in downward movement of vata. Most women experience constipation in late pregnancy due to pressure of gravid uterus over the bowels and effect of progesterone. Use of enema in eighth month will relieve constipation besides affect autonomous nervous system governing myometrium and help in regulating their function during labor.
Diet and herbs during Ninth month
- Rice gruel mixed with ghee, meat soup added with fat and cooked rice mixed with fat is recommended. This will help in nourishment of mother, baby and formation of breast milk.
- Daily bath with cold decoction prepared with pounded leaves that mitigate Vata like nirgundi, dashmool, bala are recommended.
- Anuvasana basti and Yonipichu (Vaginal douche) are recommended for lubrication of cervix, vaginal canal and perineum.
- Yoni pichu destroys pathogenic bacteria in vaginal canal and prevent puerperal sepsis, besides this softens vaginal passage and perineum thus helps in its relaxation during labor.
During pregnancy, a women’s calcium needs go up, so least 2-3 servings’ calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, raisins, dates, guava and oranges should be taken every day. Interestingly, the suggested Ayurvedic diet correlates to modern nutrition recommended for pregnant women such as high protein, vitamins and minerals. Following Ayurvedic regimen from conception till delivery will nourish the pregnant lady and help in proper growth and development of the foetus as well. It also helps facilitate normal delivery with ease and without much pain, tension, fatigue and complications as well as improve the physical and psychological condition of the pregnant lady helping her to sustain the exhaustion of labor.