the science of nutrition

The Science of Ancestral Wisdom: Ayurvedic Medicine's Role in Postpartum Support

Paula James-Martinez

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Understanding Ayurvedic Medicine
  • Ayurvedic Approach to Postpartum Support
  • The Bottom Line

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Intro

While science and research have given us many advances, we also acknowledge that there's a profound reawakening to the ancestral wisdom embedded in traditional healing systems.

Among these, Ayurveda, which originated in the Indian region over 5,000 years ago, stands as a pillar in our contemporary understanding of holistic well-being. With its teachings being especially supportive during significant life transitions like the postpartum period.

At Needed, we look holistically at women's health and use both science and the advice and teachings of over 4,000 practitioners from a wide array of backgrounds to look at ingredients and practices that are most supportive. As part of this, we acknowledge the importance of Ayurvedic Medicine, but for those new to it, let's break down some of the basic principles. 

Understanding Ayurvedic Medicine

At the core of Ayurveda lies the concept of balance, embodied in the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas represent distinct elemental forces—Vata is associated with air and space, Pitta with fire and water, and Kapha with earth and water. In Ayurvedic philosophy, optimal health is achieved when these doshas are in harmony, while imbalances can lead to physical or mental ailments.

Ayurvedic Approach to Postpartum Support

1. Nutrition

Ayurveda places great emphasis on nutrition tailored to an individual's dosha constitution, especially crucial during the postpartum period. New mothers are encouraged to consume nutrient-dense foods like cooked grains, warming soups, and herbal teas to nourish the body and promote healing.

2. Herbal Remedies

The use of herbal remedies is fundamental in Ayurvedic postpartum care. Herbs such as Shatavari, Ashwagandha, and Fenugreek are renowned for promoting hormonal balance, enhancing energy levels, and increasing milk production—essential aspects of postpartum wellness.

3. Self-Care Practices

Ayurveda advocates for self-care rituals known as Dinacharya and Ritucharya, involving daily routines and seasonal adjustments to align with natural cycles. These practices help new mothers manage stress, improve sleep quality, and maintain overall well-being.

4. Abhyanga (Oil Massage)

A traditional Ayurvedic practice, postpartum Abhyanga massages using warm herbal oils offer numerous benefits. They help strengthen the mother's body, improve circulation, aid in toxin elimination, and promote relaxation and bonding with the newborn.

5. Mind-Body Connection

Ayurveda recognizes the intimate connection between mental health and physical well-being. Practices such as meditation, pranayama (breathwork), and mindfulness are integral components of Ayurvedic postpartum care, supporting emotional balance, reducing anxiety and depression, and fostering inner strength and resilience.

The Bottom Line

Ayurveda's rich history and holistic approach make it a valuable resource in modern healthcare, especially for postpartum support.

By tapping into the science of ancestral wisdom, while acknowledging it's ancient roots, new mothers can benefit from a tradition that nurtures both body and soul during this profound phase of life.

As we continue to integrate ancient healing traditions with contemporary medical practices, we create a comprehensive approach to postpartum care that honors the complexity of motherhood. Ayurveda offers a timeless framework for holistic well-being, empowering women to embrace their journey into motherhood with strength, resilience, and profound nourishment.

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a creative producer, filmmaker, and former fashion editor. She is the director and producer of film company Semi-Retired Productions, and in 2018, started working on her directorial debut on the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternity in America. She has since founded a non-profit organization The Mother Lovers to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis.