How I Regained Balance Post-Pregnancy Thanks to Ayurveda
We divide a pregnancy into three trimesters, but wise midwives, doulas, and mamas know that there’s a fourth trimester too. This is the time we need to bond with our babies and establish breastfeeding, let our bodies heal physically, and recover from the transformative experience that is pregnancy and childbirth; it’s also the time that our babies need to acclimate to being out in the world.
During my first 40 days postpartum after giving birth to Dries, I was blessed to have Claudia Lizzani by my side. Claudia is a postpartum doula and after the time she spent helping me, she truly feels like a second mother. With my family living across the country, I needed some motherly wisdom and nurturing to help me adjust to being a mama of two. When we met, her vibe was so calming and peaceful, I knew it was a match. Claudia’s doula work focuses on providing Ayurvedic support to new mamas, which felt so right for me and my family’s lifestyle.
Ayurveda Is About Balance
If you’re not familiar with Ayurveda, here’s a quick primer. Our bodies are made up of three different doshas that, when we are healthy, coexist in harmony. These dosas are vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (water and earth). When we’re not feeling well physically, it’s because these doshas aren’t in balance.
This is why Ayurveda is needed in the postpartum period. After mamas give birth, our bodies are depleted––of energy, of nutrients, of the hormones that had sustained us and our babies for the past nine months. We need to restore balance and one way to do this is through eating Ayurvedic food. We eat food with the qualities we need to replenish. In childbirth, kapha and pitta are lost, and vata becomes dominant.
Ayurvedic Postpartum Diet
One of the things I most treasured about having Claudia as my Ayurvedic postpartum doula was her cooking. So many new mamas rely on takeout, smoothies, and quick salads for their meals––if they’re finding the time to eat meals at all. With Ayurveda, we avoid cold foods during the 40 days after giving birth. Adhering to an Ayurvedic diet in the fourth trimester means:
- Eating food shortly after it has been made. Prana, or energy, diminishes as food sits uneaten. This means no fast food, no frozen meals.
- Having warm foods instead of cold. Think: stewed apples and pears, sweet or savory porridge, simple soups.
- Choosing sweet and oily foods. Sweet foods and healthy fats, like ghee, bring peace and harmony to your bodies and promote oxytocin, which helps with breastfeeding.
- Nourishing our bodies with bone broth, warm almond milk with honey, and other foods that are easy for the body to digest. (Because we all know our digestive systems don’t need any more drama in those first few days after having a baby!)
- Staying hydrated with warm herbal teas, like ashwagandha to ease stress, dashamoola to balance your doshas, and fennel and fenugreek to stimulate milk production.
- Seasoning our food with herbs and spices that warm the body and stimulate digestion. These include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric.
I’m plant-based but with Claudia’s encouragement, I made the decision to consume bone broth and ghee while recovering from Dries’s birth. Bone broth is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, plus the collagen supports postpartum recovery by helping rebuild uterine tissue and the pelvic floor. According to Ayurveda, ghee fires up digestion, something much-needed after birth, when the digestive system tends to slow down. In addition, it’s a healthy fat that boosts hydration and breast milk production.
*You can find some of my favorite ayurvedic postpartum recipes from Claudia here.