Struggling with Postpartum
Have you heard of a mother who is struggling with mental health issues postpartum?
Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, even baby blues? Most likely, the answer is yes. In Ayurveda, it is important to support the psychology or the mental and emotional factors in the first 42 days postpartum to prevent future pathology in the next 42 years of life. I believe this is the route of prevention for common mental health ailments that show up in the postpartum period, including postpartum depression and anxiety. By having a supportive and warm home environment, eating warm, fresh foods with proper spices, ingesting herbs, and having daily warm oil application, you are addressing this important aspect of postpartum mental health. The supports I listed are not seen as a luxury in Ayurveda and for many hundreds of thousands of years, these were a normal part of caring for a new mother who will properly care for her infant.
Tips to Set the Right Atmosphere
Creating a supportive home environment is important for the new mother to feel comfortable and to heal properly in body and mind. Here are a few ways that we can set up the home.
Keep warm, clean, soft natural lighting
Long, covered clothing
Keep the wind out
Listen to volume on low
Play music softly
Harsh, or direct lighting
Tight, restrictive clothing
Too many visitors coming and going
Obnoxious music and/or TV shows
All of these tips will help her to be with the baby and have fewer distractions. Keeping the environment soothing and calming will contribute to her feeling balanced mentally. The environment also benefits the infant as to not overstimulate him or her and become overwhelmed. This leads to less crying and easier infant care, benefitting the mother’s stress level.
The foods that a new mother consumes can also lend to her mental stability and health. There are foods that should be avoided so that mother and baby’s bellies are settled. The mother should avoid consuming chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes and raw fruits and vegetables. Using fresh, warm, easily digestible and grounding foods will help her to feel more at ease and like she can handle more situations to cope with the normal stress of having a newborn. If her digestive fire is restarted properly, she will digest foods well and receive more nutrients from the food she is eating.
The Benefits of Ayurvedic Spices
The way that the foods are prepared by rinsing, soaking, sprouting and cooking with spices is important and this also helps to digest properly. Some of the benefits of adding specific Ayurvedic spices to the foods are:
· Helping to stimulate digestive juices
· Tonify the nerves
· Cleanse the blood
· Help the lymph
· Purify and build tissues
· Galactagogues (increase milk)
· Regulate hormones
· Increase Ojas and/or life force energy
Using the warm, easily digestible foods and adding powerful spices, the mother can feel strong and happy physically and therefore mentally.
The herbal preparations for new mothers are just as important for mental support. These herbs can be prepared in:
· Medicated ghee mixed with honey
· Oils used for massage or steaming and burning in the air
Are the Different Methods of Preparation Important?
Yes. The different methods are important because every mother may choose a different way to receive the herbs. They help enhance the experience of the new mother and her body's ability to cope with stress, healing of the tissues and hormone fluctuations. We are nurturing the tissues of the mother to dispel rigidity and calm the nerves. The herbs have many benefits for a mother that may feel out of balance including digestion issues, nervous/anxious, fatigue, slow healing, and low milk supply.
Postpartum Herbs Purpose
The main herbs used in postpartum are strong rejuvenation, nurturing, and stabilizing, adaptogenic, and assist with reducing how the body and mind react to stress. Specific Ayurvedic teas are used to help nourish the nervous system and assists with mood and healing. Since many of the suggested herbs during immediate postpartum lend to better milk supply and/or quality milk, and also helping with digestion in mother and baby, the baby may feel calm and cry less which will help the stress level of mother and baby.
Why use Mother’s Warm Oil?
Mother's Warm oil application is important for mental health because it helps to warm, calm the mind, exercise and nourish the mother. The application of the oil is calming to the central nervous system and hits marma points to support the health of the organs. The generous amount of oil soaks into the skin and deep in the tissues delivering it to the organs and soothing both inside and outside of the body.
Does the Kind of Oil Matter?
Yes. The kind of oil matters because it will have qualities that are good for the mother at this time, for instance, using sesame oil will be warming and heavy. The application of the oil on the body delivers nutrients to heal and support her system while she is in a state of rest and digest. The strokes and circles help exercise the lymph system and the muscles. This is enough movement to help the body stay healthy while she is resting and caring for the infant.
Creating this environment and feeding the new mother's mind, body, and soul, we are setting her up to feeling physically strong which will translate to feeling well mentally. She should feel like she can handle feeding and comforting and feeding her baby while others do the chores and meal/ herbal preparation for her. If we are helping her, we are creating an environment for her to feel calm, strong and she can feel like she is able to cope with the changes in her life.