In Ayurveda, Sutika refers to a woman in her postnatal stage. Sutika Paricharya (Postpartum care) in ancient Ayurveda has been given extreme importance to prevent the mother from any complication of the pregnancy and childbirth process. This stage is like a roller coaster at the physical, mental, and emotional levels due to hormonal imbalance. There have been many cases documented with postnatal/postpartum depression and suicidal tendencies of the mother if mental health is not taken care of at this stage.
Acharya Kashyapa says, that a woman is called a Sutika only when the fetus & placenta, are expelled out completely from her womb. She needs to adapt to her new responsibility of feeding the child as a mother along with self-care. This involves adequate rest, diet & lifestyle modification. She needs to follow medical advice to avoid complications like infections, pelvic inflammatory disorders, back pain, joint pain, etc.
”The holistic regime described for Sutika in Ayurveda is known as Sutika Paricharya.”
Aims and Objectives of Sutika Paricharya –
- It promotes the physical and mental health of mother and child
- To avoid complications of delivery and postpartum hemorrhage.
- Helps to regain the strength and power of mother after child birth.
- To strengthen the mind of a new mother while she handles a new born child.
Ayurveda suggests a highly nutritious diet for a Sutika. Following are the suggestions to improve the nutritional status.
- Iron rich food – Spinach, nuts etc. helps to combat with blood loss during delivery.
- High carbohydrates & protein rich diet- To meet the requirements of lactation.
- Probiotics like Yogurt
- Animal meat soup or fish curry for non-vegetarian mother
- Fluid intake at least 2-3 litres a day: It helps to improve the breast milk production.
- Cranberry juice helps for urinary tract infection
- Avoid fried, spicy, stale food packaged food and gas forming food items.
- It is advisable to drink warm water and milk.
A woman has to plan her adequate diet & lifestyle to manage the specific doshas (energy patterns).
Ayurveda herbs for digestion & reduction of Vata & Kapha – Pipali, Pippalimul, Chavya, Chitraka, Ginger + Ghee or Oil or Jaggery as per the digestive ability of a Sutika.
Ayurveda herbs for milk secretions are known as Stanyautapatti & stanyavardhak (galactagogues) aushadhi.
Following are some herbs that stimulate milk secretions in the mother: Shatavari, Fenugreek Fennel Seeds, Garlic, Ragi and kanji Plenty of milk& Almonds, etc.
Significance of Ayurveda Massage Therapy in the postnatal mother’s health
The Ayurveda massage therapy like snehan & (oil pulling massage with bala or til oil) and swedan (herbal steam with nirgundi or neem leaves) in the postnatal period helps in increasing blood circulation to all the body parts & fastens the recovery purpose. it helps in stretching the body joints. It also relaxes the mother while dealing with the care of the newborn & breastfeeding. The results are best if it is provided by a trained therapist at least continued for six weeks.
Breast care in feeding mother
- Nipple should be cleaned well with water twice a day.
- Well fitted or feeding bra specially designed should be used to adequate support to breast.
- Inverted nipple should be taken care of by a doctor or trained lactation nurse.
- Signs like crack nipples, painful breast feeding or difficulty in latching (process of breastfeeding or the way child attaches to mother’s breast) should be dealt with early.
- Breast feeding should be established as early as possible after childbirth, within first two hours of delivery.
- Breast milk in first 3 days is called colostrum. It is very high in antibody which should always be given to new born child.
Post-natal Yogic Practices
Yogic Practices can be slowly & steadily can be started from the 3rd or 4th week of normal delivery. Simple practices are allowed during the first three months. All the yogic practices of the antenatal period can be continued in addition few more yogic techniques are advised to regain muscle tone & strength.
Some of the yogic practices are:
1. Suksha Vyayama – Sukshma Vyayama is the system of yogic practices which loosens your joints and removes the energy blockages. This system has a strong purifying effect thus, boosting the body’s energy.
2.Pranayama – Pranayama is control of Breath. “Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels, prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “Control of Breath”.
3.Asanas – An asana is a body posture that is performed to benefit the health and mind.
Some of the asanas that should be practiced daily during the postnatal period are:
- Salambha bhujangasana
Precautions to be taken During Postnatal Period
- Avoid carrying heavy objects.
- Listen to your own body & do things as per capacity.
- Avoid vigorous and heavy exercises.
- Avoid anger & exertions.
Cesarean delivery –In Cesarean cases, more emphasis is given to basic pranayama & meditation. Avoid prone posture during post-delivery in case of cesarean section. Pranayama- Anulom Vilom, Bhramari & Ujjayi can be practiced to strengthen lung capacity & circulation.
First of all postnatal stage women should follow the diet & lifestyle prescribed in the postnatal stage as per Ayurveda. Secondly, she should start practicing yoga after 45 days of normal delivery. Asana- mainly core muscle toning postures like pawanmuktasana bhujangasana, dhanurasana or twisting & bending all postures will help her losing belly fat.
Article by: Richa Tulli Yoga Counsellor H2F Care