Moms-to-be long for a circle of support as the birth comes near. This core desire arises from a primal innate knowing of what lies ahead. Unfortunately, our modern western culture dumbs down our intuition with the ridiculous platitudes of a “baby shower”.
You don’t need a baby shower… you need a mother shower.
The baby shower is about the baby. You (or your pregnant friend/daughter/wife) needs a ceremony that is for your (her) birth. You want connection and support… and you have an inner knowing that this is an old ritual. And, you are right. For those who want the full education on this process, read: Blessingways: A Guide to Mother-Centered Baby Showers.
You want a blessing way or a birthing way.
Ultimately, mothers preparing for birth need a circle of support. The ceremony before the birth is to gather, acknowledge and call to duty the mother’s circle of support. Here is a list you can print to help organize your circle of support at your blessing way. This is a way for your friends to honor you and your needs. Instead of gifting your baby, they are gifting you.. knowing you are the the only one who can give your baby what your baby needs.
Return to Ritual: more ideas for honoring sacred birth.
There are other ceremonies or ways women can come together to support each other. Take some time to tap into and visualize what you want. What rituals you are interested in experiencing? Print this handout to have a reminder to create what you want to experience.
- At-home rejuvenation retreat for conscious pregnancy
- A Birthing Way
- A sacred incubation – immediate postpartum cocoon week
- 42 day Postpartum Re-entry party
- 90 day postpartum Gentle Cleanse
Rites of passage
We have the power to change how we support and celebrate birth. It’s up to us to change what is normal and what is expected. If your traditions are outdated, it’s up to you to tell your peeps what you want and why. You’ll find that just having one friend or family member supporting you will make a world of difference in the months to come.
Which rites of passage will empower your transformation? Print this handout.
- Organize and request a circle of support.
- Create authentic meaning.
- Design ceremony (s) to articulate your highest intention.
- Eat nourishing foods to honor the physical endeavor of birth and postpartum.
- Identify support or gifts that align to your values and essential structures.
Mindful birth to postpartum
When mothers look back on pregnancy, most say that was the easy part. Yet, our culture puts the emphasis on pregnancy and the baby shower, and ultimately has no care parameters for the postpartum basic needs of a mother. This causes a myriad of health problems for mothers and children that lasts years.
Take time to create the future of postpartum care for yourself and for our culture. Here are some guidelines to help you out:
- Stay on target; attune others to supporting your targets.
- Make others aware of your patterned pitfalls so they can help you steer clear.
- Pause. Review. Rehash. Realign. Invoke next intents.
- Articulate and Celebrate that which is working best.
Create what you want to experience and celebrate.
I can’t handle my emotions.
Postpartum depression has a few faces according to Ayurveda. The faces fall into three categories: sad, angry, and overwhelmed. Of course, all of these emotions are totally normal…. until they are not. The spectrum of how deep they are felt and for how long indicates the severity of the imbalance. But, you already knew that. If you sense you’re in the deep end, get help from a postpartum Ayurvedic doula or Ayurvedic Practitioner.
Postpartum Anger & Postpartum Psychosis
This once forbidden topic is all the rage. From women’s lib emerges language for describing phenomena that existed for eons. Mommy rage is all the rage. What is actually happening? As far as I can tell the chain of events is something like this:
- First Vata goes out of whack. The downward , grounding energy becomes uprooted.
- This causes the clarity of a woman’s subtle energy body is immediately backlogged, polluted and disrupted.
You can print this or scroll down for the rest of the article.
The mom’s body is inflamed and acidic, due to:
- being in a continual stress response
- eating impure foods (another other than fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grasses, legumes, etc)
- eating a pitta aggravating diet
- using acidic substances (caffeine, alcohol, recreational and prescribed pharmaceuticals),
- etc (google acid/alkaline for resources)
From another perspective, mommy rage is an issue of polluted flow happening within faulty structure.
The Shadow of Mommy Rage
The shadow, or unconscious aspect named and made conscious, part of mommy rage has to do with our inheritance from our mothers. IF our mothers were sacrificers, chances are they taught us how to sacrifice the sacred clarity of our energy body for the sack of some need of another person. Glimpsed from an evolutionary perspective, this was a super good survival strategy in a patriarchal culture. If you’re no longer playing by those rules, the sacrifice of the clarity of your subtle body is simply outdated. This is why the rage response, in my experience, seems like something I should simply not fall into.
The Yoga Analysis of Post Partum Anger:
Yoga offers an abundance of language to describe what is happening. The most succinct is the malas. There are 3 major ways we contract against the divine flow of abundance.
- Anava mala is the contraction in the heart which renders lack;
- Mayiya mala is the contraction around the third eye which renders judgment;
- Karma mala is the contraction in the solar plexus which renders selfish actions. Mommy rage happens as the mom’s self care falls apart in service of other (kids, husband, work). Anava mala puts a squeeze on the heart, aggravating Vata’s flow and putting pressure upward. The upward pressure stimulates Mayiya mala into a full blown contraction skyrockets Pitta into pinpoint intensity and awareness of inequity. If we can recognize the contraction, we’re on the path back to cool clarity and intrinsic abundance.
The Path Back to Cool Abundant Clarity
- Take a moment and allow everything to be as it is. Make enough room for all of your needs and how you feel. Don’t indulge…. just make space in your awareness.
- Exercise breathing through nostrils for 20 minutes upon arising in the morning. Demand this time for yourself if possible. Cleanse the pranic channels asap.
- Give yourself an oil massage with rose essential oil added to an organic base oil (coconut is great). Take a warm, not hot water after.
- Identify and eliminate impurities in your diet/lifestyle. Easier said than done. Be aggressive with your ability to make better choices.
When the baby comes, we are often gifted with casseroles and other heavy, dense foods. While your friends and neighbors are giving from their hearts, you might find your belly can’t handle their gifts. To complicate things further, any work your digestive tract has to do takes away from the process of making optimal milk. If your milk is less than optimal, your baby can easily become gassy or colicky. If you want to sleep, you want to avoid colic at all costs.
The Best Postpartum Foods
All of your food needs to have these qualities:
- liquid or moist
While this list is simple and straightforward, not many people know about it. Which means, that you will have to explain to your friends and family members, who are trying to support you, that all of your foods for the first few weeks need to be warm, moist or liquid, oily, and well spiced.
Food ideas for immediate postpartum
- Rice pudding with spices, ghee, raw sugar, basmati rice
- Oily, spiced cooked vegetable soups
- Cream of wheat with dates
- Barley konji with sesame seeds
- Yams, sweet potatoes, cooked roots
- Date & almond shake – soak the almond!
- Spiced warm raw cow’s milk
- Simple yogurt lassis (homemade yogurt, water, spices, salt,
- Dahl & kitchari
- Simple vegetable soups
First Days’ Rice Pudding
Recipe shared from Sarita Shrestha, OBGyn, BAMS (Ayurvedic Physician). Prep Time: 10 min. Cooking Time: 4 hours. Serves 4
Put on to cook during labor (or in a crock) and serve throughout the day, even up to 5 times daily the first few days after birth, if desired. Make fresh daily.
16 c pure water
1 c basmati rice
2 c dark, iron-rich sugar (succanat, Rapadura, molasses or dark jaggery)
½ c or 2-3 T ghee per serving (or (toasted) sesame oil)
2 t ginger powder
2/3 t cinnamon powder
½ t clove powder
½ t black pepper or long pepper/pippali (best!)
1/3 t loose not packed saffron (or 2/3 tsp turmeric)
½ t anise seed or cardamom powder
1. Bring water to a boil in large heavy-bottomed pot. Avoid aluminum or Teflon.
2. Pour water over rice and stir, rinse and repeat about two more times, to remove any powders or enzyme inhibitors. Add to the water and boil, reduce heat to simmering without a lid, stirring occasionally for several hours.
3. When beginning to thicken, add the sugar and all the spice powders. Add 1/2 of the ghee.Continue to cook slowly and stir as needed.
4. When consistency is gelatinous, serve steaming hot, with added ghee (another Tbs or more). Keep hot and serve as desired through the day, with as much of the dark iron-rich sweetener and ghee as desired and a cup of hot boiled milk.
Foods to avoid postpartum
AVOID the stuff people tend to want to nourish you with. Including:
- other heavy casseroles
- baked goods: muffins
- ice cream
- frozen soups or stews
- refined sugars and flours
- dairy (other than raw dairy)
The foods are not part of the postpartum diet is because they are difficult to digest and extract nutrients. You want to simplify this process of digestion and absorption as much as possible. Otherwise, you may develop a slew of postpartum symptoms including: bloating, constipation, postpartum depression, insomnia, irritability, and cravings for poor food choices. Furthermore, your baby may become colicky, irritable, or develop thrush. The stakes are high on what you eat for the first 42 days postpartum.
Avoiding Postpartum Symptoms
Because our western medical culture does not offer postpartum care or postpartum support, women are lead to believe that postpartum symptoms, including postpartum depression, is normal. Whenever a body is out of balance there are symptoms. Symptoms are our body’s way of communicating, usually quite specifically, the nature of the imbalance. Eastern medical systems use the specific of symptoms arising in the unique individual to understand the root cause of the imbalance. Then, the practitioner ascertains the cause of the symptoms in the patients lifestyle or diet.
If we eat cold, dense, heavy, previously frozen, or leftover foods, we are sure to have a cascade effect of postpartum symtoms, both in mother and baby. This is due to the delicate nature of digestion in the mother’s body with the event of the birth. If you birth in a western hospital, chances are you will receive an icy juice drink immediately postpartum. Ice is like poison to your system postpartum. You need warm, nourishing substances. Print the Pregnancy Tips packet in the right side bar to ensure you know what to ingest after the birth of your babe, to avoid postpartum symptoms.
Raw Food Postpartum Guidelines
Traditional Ayurvedic Postpartum guidelines recommend no raw foods for 3 weeks postpartum. However, many yoga moms are going raw, and don’t desire to go cooked postpartum. If this is you, simply keep in mind the guidelines above.
Here are some additional guidelines for raw moms:
- Add coconut oil, ghee, or hemp oil to your raw soups and smoothies postpartum.
- Blend avocados and ginger to your fresh juices.
- Warm your juices, smoothies and soups.
- Eat everything warmer than room temperature.
- Spice all of your foods to help warm your digestion.
- Sip hot water between meals.
- Avoid nut-based meals or desserts. Choose avocados as your or coconut meat as your primary fats.
For the complete recipe books, as well as yoga classes, audio classes, and tools for your optimal postpartum self-care education, get the mamabirthing e-course!
The amazing process of building a body within your body, birthing a body from your body, then nourishing a body from your body can be overwhelming at times.
I’ve created a simple 35 minute Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga practice to align yourself. The circumstances that arise during pregnancy and postpartum require regrouping. This Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga practice is for all levels, to help you find your center during your journey.
*This practice and many more tools are part of the complete mamabirthing e-course. In the e-course, you will find Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga conversations for every trimester of your journey. Receive the guidelines on exercise during pregnancy from two Certified Anusara Yoga Instructors (who are also moms :).
Realign Yoga for Prenatal and Postpartum with Cate Stillman, Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher, birthing doula.
A quick and substantial 35 minute home practice with Cate Stillman
I used to teach prenatal yoga a decade ago. One of my students, Cindy Riegel became very committed to her practice. She was light on her feet throughout her pregnancy. After she had her first baby, she wanted to help other women. She started to teach prenatal yoga.
After a few years, another baby came. She continued to improve her own personal health care and family thrive. With the unexpected discovery of her third pregnancy, she decided to do everything her way.
Listen to this inspiring audio of a yoga mom… who decides to take her health into her own hands. This, and many more inspiring audios, are part of the mamabirthing e-course: your ultimate prenatal and postpartum education.
From prenatal yoga to unassisted homebirth with Cindy Riegel – 54 minutes
As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Anusara Yoga teacher, mother, sister and friend, I noticed a HUGE VOID of wisdom in our prenatal and postpartum care. This HUGE VOID of wisdom led me to create an e-course, called mamabirthing.
If you’re a pregnant mother, or a friend of a pregnant mother, this course is designed to absolutely uplevel our postpartum mother health, infant health, and overall family thrive. While our culture does have a lot of support for prenatal health, we really don’t have support for postpartum care. This means it’s up to each mother to learn self-care techniques to help herself and her changing family. It’s up to her to generate a circle of support to help her thrive postpartum.
Mamabirthing is a course packed with mamabirthing classes, yoga classes, meditation sessions, prenatal and postpartum recipes, practical handouts for family members and friends, and practical support tools. The e-course is designed to help you learn what you need for your personal and your family thrive.
Intro to MamaBirthing – Play this one first!
Cate Stillman, 6 minutes
In our culture, prenatal massage is a luxury. However, prenatal massage and daily massage in general, is a regular practice in Ayurveda.
There is no quicker way to make your whole body happy than to simply have a massage and a bath.
You need prenatal massage everyday.
If that sounds more like a pipe dream than a reality, you’re reading the right article. You might be thinking there is no way. After all, who is going to give you a massage everyday of your pregnancy?
You need to rub oil on yourself. Everyday would be nice. A few days a week will work. The important thing is this: you need to develop practices that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are your best caretaker.
How to give yourself a prenatal massage:
Set aside some quiet time for your massage. 5-15 minutes is enough time to massage the oil on your body (preferably before you shower)– though if you have
no time, rub the oil on your skin (instead of soap) in the shower. Do this daily.
You will need:
- Warm room: make this a comfortable and special time for yourself.
- Oil: sesame oil vatas, sunflower or coconut oil for pittas and olive or mustard oils for kaphas.
- Squeeze bottle: for easy access throughout the massage fill a squeeze bottle with oil
- Hot water in a bowl or in the sink: put the squeeze bottle in the warm water and allow the oil to warm to at least body temperature
- Towel or mat: choose something that you don’t mind getting oily. You might want one to stand on and one to dry off with.
What to do for your Self-Massage
- Undress completely and stand on your towel or mat.
- Starting with a small amount of oil in your hands begin to gently rub the oil into your scalp. Massage the oil into your scalp and hair with your fingertips. If you would prefer to keep the oil out of your hair simply omit the use of oil for this part of the massage.
- Vigorously work down your body until the oil has been massaged into every part of your body. Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes over all your joints, chest and abdomen. Cover every inch of skin, attuning to your bodily tissues with your hands. Spend extra time on areas that are less integrated (for some this is thighs, buttocks, breasts).
- Take ample time to massage the soles of your feet as this can have a particularly relaxing and soothing affect.
Rinse off the oil in the shower. Take time in the shower to allow the oil on your hands to mix with the water from the shower to massage your face and ears. Use gentle circular strokes to massage your cheeks and forehead, move out towards the ears in stroking motions around the eyes and lips. Soap is drying to the skin, including to the anus; try switching to oil instead.
The benefits of self massage during pregnancy
The biggest benefit is that you gain a tool you will use the rest of your life. Also, if you regularly massage yourself during your pregnancy and postpartum period, it’s not a big leap to start rubbing oil on your infant. In fact, it will become a natural part of your routine. Prenatal self-massage leads to infant massage. Infant massage leads to toddler massage. Toddler massage leads to small child massage. Etc. Etc. Etc. Soon you have created an adult that know how to take care of themselves. The benefits of self massage range from de-stressing yourself to optimizing how your baby forms.
Read more on how to rub on your self by printing the handout below. This is one of the basic tools taught and emphasized in the mamabirthing e-course!