I am a pregnant woman and have heard of Ayurveda routines after delivery. Can you recommend natural products and massage oils for postnatal care?

At the outset, I must say please consult an Ayurveda doctor for a personalised consultation to suit your constitution. The general Ayurveda principles behind postnatal care are as below:

After delivery, the mother’s health becomes weak due to the loss of fluid and blood and the emptiness created in the body after the child’s birth. The phase after delivery until the restoration of the menstrual cycle is called the Sutika period in Ayurveda. A special regimen is recommended for this period to make good the loss of fluid and faster recuperation and restoration of the mum’s health. The aims of postnatal care are to improve digestion and metabolism, Vata balance and support lactation.

In a normal delivery, oils such as Bala thailam or Dhanwantharam thailam are commonly used to massage into the body prior to a warm shower for the first seven days. Water boiled with tamarind leaves or kurunthotti roots (Sida cordifolia) are used for baths. The abdomen should be properly wrapped with a clean cloth.

Start with ghee or healthy oils or meat soups in this phase. Selection should be based on the customs practised in the women’s maternal family, as the body gets easily accustomed to the regimens followed culturally. The dose of ghee

should be carefully decided based on digestive power. There are some Ayurvedic preparations that can be administered.

Horse gram soup with added dried ginger powder and pepper powder is also a traditional practice during the first seven days after delivery. Yava (barley; Hordeum vulgare) is the recommended grain.

From the eighth day, more nourishing herbs are recommended. Red or brown rice and meat soups are suggested. Anxiety, stress, exposure to cold breeze, strenuous exertion and steam baths should be avoided.

Lactation is promoted with natural galactagogues (a herb that is used to help increase breast milk production in nursing mothers). Red rice, wheat, sugar, yogurt, asparagus, fenugreek, coconut, sesame seeds and garlic are good choices. Intake of cumin powder (5g) mixed with milk can help. Mother’s milk is the only friendly milk to a newborn baby.

Gradual weaning can be started after eruption of teeth in the child. Make sure you consult an Ayurvedic doctor before consuming these foods.

Dr VL Shyam is a Dubai-based Ayurveda practitioner