My Pregnancy Week 9: Role of Stress

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I just had the amazing opportunity to go away on retreat to see my teacher in upstate New York. I was reluctant to go on retreat and leave my son for five days (for the first time), but my husband lovingly forced me. He knew, even if I couldn't see at the time, that seeing my teacher and having space to reflect would be really good for me. Let me tell you, I have never had so much gratitude for his urging, and the ability to take that time away for myself. There are so many aspects of this experience that have been amazing, and honestly really surprising for me in relationship to my pregnancy. Before heading on the retreat, as you know, I was exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. The two weeks leading up to the retreat were tiring for me, and certainly increased the amount of upward moving wind in my system (Ud?na Vata), leading to more anxiety and stress. This increased anxiety lead me to have thoughts I normally wouldn’t, such as, "would flying be okay?, would something terrible happen on retreat?" and other irrational ramblings of the mind.

What was amazing to me, was that within a day of arriving on the land with my teacher, my body felt different in a good way! My nausea subsided a bit, and my energy level increased. By the end of the week I felt great. I felt a sense of energy, clarity, and radiance that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and certainly hadn’t felt since being pregnant. This, of course, encouraged me to reflect upon what had changed. How could I go from being exhausted and anxious to completely happy, and energized within a few days?

First and foremost, I know it was seeing my teacher. I hadn’t been able to see him physically since before I was pregnant with my first child, and it allowed a deep surrender in me that I know transformed everything. But in addition to that, I think several other factors contributed to the experience. Factors that we all know are good, but that I sometimes forget about, or at least forget the power of, when faced with my busy life.

Changes that Made Me FEEL GREAT!

1) I did a lot of SPIRITUAL PRACTICE AND MEDITATION. This is always helpful for me, but having a container to practice in, was huge, and helped all the little stuff naturally fall away. As women, we need to make time for this every day...or at least as much as we can.

2) I had time to REST. At home I have a two year old to take care of along with my work and household obligations. While this may not seem like a lot when you are used to it, it really is. On retreat I had the opportunity to lay down and sit a lot, my body desperately needed this. Finding more time to rest is tough, but at least setting the intention can help.

3) I had NO STRESS. This goes along with rest. I would say I have a pretty stress-free life most of the time. But even the daily stressors build up, and tax the body. Stress reduction techniques, and minimizing stress is important!

4) I had MEALS COOKED FOR ME. Like many pregnant women, I am having a tough time cooking in the first trimester. The smells and whole general cooking experience make me sick, and I generally LOVE to cook. On retreat every meal I had something fresh and healthy waiting for me. I didn’t have to make a decision about what sounded good, or what to make. This was HUGE for me. A major take away from this was my need to ask others for help, and to encourage my husband to make more decisions around food. I think the decision about what to eat at home was almost the hardest part.

5) I was in COOLER WEATHER. As we know from an Ayurvedic perspective, heat increases nausea and diarrhea. During pregnancy our heat naturally rises in the body, and living in a climate that is HOT (90-100 degrees every day) builds even more heat in the system. Cool weather helps to cool the body down, which allows the heat to naturally lessen. Nothing to do about this if we live somewhere warm :(

6) I WALKED A LOT. At home it’s so hot I am having a hard time getting outside to walk. On retreat I walked a lot through the forest every day. Nothing difficult, but simple walking and stretching. It felt awesome, and I think it helped my body. Walking is good, I am going to try and do more in the morning or evening.

It’s funny because all of these changes are generally advised during pregnancy, but I don’t think I understood the magnitude of their importance, and the HUGE difference they all make together. Specifically, how much stress (even minor stress) affects us physically, and the power of being cared for, nourished and stress-free. Upon returning home, I asked my sister-in-law (an obgyn) what she sees in her clients during their pregnancies relative to stress, and she reiterated that it makes a HUGE difference in a woman's health during pregnancy.

I obviously can’t take the next 9 months off and go on retreat in the mountains, but I can remember that nourishing myself, resting, breathing, and doing spiritual practice really helps me stay balanced AND helps me feel better. I can remind myself that, Yes, these changes help with all the physical imbalances! They really do...

As always we would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy Week 6 1/2: Morning Sickness Begins

The morning sickness is starting:( Major bummer, I was hoping I would be able to avoid it this time around, but NOT the case. My nausea isn't too intense, but it is still really annoying and certainly affecting what I want to eat and when. What is Morning Sickness and How Do We View It In Ayurveda? Morning sickness is the general term used to describe nausea and vomiting that occurs during the early stages of pregnancy. While it can occur in the morning, it can also occur at any time in the day. It was actually the worst at night for me. In Ayurveda, we believe that it is caused by aggravated Pitta, or too much heat in the system. This means it is often more common in people who have a Pitta constitution. According to Dr. Lad, it gets worse during the early stages because, "the higher estrogen levels in the blood triggers pitta in the stomach and increases acid secretions, so that the stomach becomes more acidic." You might also notice that certain odors can trigger nausea and vomiting. It is very normal for our sense of smell to increase during pregnancy, and I certainly know that mine is. This is making it almost impossible to cook, which is a sucks, because I love cooking. Luckily, for me making dietary changes really helped curb my nausea.

What Can We Do to Help?

1) Eat every 2 hours (esp before bed and upon waking), specifically protein For those Ayurvedic buffs out there, even Dr. Lad recommends six small meals a day to help with morning sickness. This is contrary to what is normally recommended in Ayurveda, which is to eat 3 meals a day with minimal snacking. Since I'm having trouble cooking, I am trying to find healthy quick foods to eat. Snacks like an ojas date shake (see my video for instructions on that one—actually filmed during week 5 of my pregnancy), organic crackers with good quality hard cheese or cottage cheese, sprouted spelt toast with cream cheese, and peanut butter and crackers are proving helpful. While not ideal, they are what I can manage to eat and digest. I am also starting to incorporate LOTS of fruit infused water because regular water has been hard to drink, more homemade nut milk or non-homogenized cow’s.

2) A Morning sickness remedy from Dr. Lad  1 tsp raw sugar (sucanat, rapadura, coconut sugar) w/ 2 drops sandalwood oil

3) Chew a piece of fresh ginger root or lemon peel If the nausea is severe, up to 250 mg of ginger can be taken in capsule form up to 3 times per day. *Larger amounts of ginger can be emmenagogue (stimulate blood flow to the uterus and bring on miscarriage). I tried a little ginger, it was okay, not amazing for me.

4) Shatavari Kalpa A sautéed blend of shatavari, sugar and spices, can be really helpful, or just plain shatavari. I tried plain Shatavari, since I was honestly too tired to make the kalpa, and it did help me. 

5) Homeopathy Excellent homeopathic remedies such as ipecacuanha and nux vomica are available for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. We usually recommend a 30C potency. See your local homeopath or midwife to find the right one for you. Homeopathy is something we highly recommend to treat pregnancy ailments as it's safe, effective, and there are no side effects or drug interactions.

I personally finding that eating protein every 2 hours with occasional shatavari powder in milk or ginger tea to be the most effective.

As always would love to hear what is working for you!

With Love, Kerry

 

 

My Pregnancy Week 6: Food in My World

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As an ayurvedic practitioner and public health consultant, I know that eating well during pregnancy is important. However, I think very few of us, including myself before my last pregnancy, understand what that actually means. I remember searching for hours to understand what actually made sense to eat during pregnancy. Please keep in mind, that is also my personality. I like to understand and research everything that is out there. Luckily, during my public health studies, and after I gave birth to my son, I was able to spend some serious time researching what western nutrition and Ayurveda have to offer during pregnancy. What I found helped me to both relax, because I was already doing a great job, and to understand the components that are most important, even when feeling crummy. I personally found a lot of balance and reassurance by comparing Western research with Ayurvedic science. I learned that both sciences recommend eating frequently, eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, eating lots of high quality fat, lots of good quality carbohydrates and lots of dairy. What Ayurveda offered me that went beyond basic western nutrition, was a better sense of how to tailor my diet based on the trimester, and my specific imbalances.

Now, I will admit that eating well during these first few weeks/months is tough. AND I know that eating something is better than eating nothing at all, so that means I'm trying to make the healthiest choices I can from what sounds ‘eatable’ in my pregnant, morning sick world.

In my case, from an Ayurvedic perspective, I know that my Pitta, or the heat in my system is slightly elevated. I am experiencing morning sickness, irritability, and mild indigestion.  It also happens to be 100 degrees right now in Texas, which is making me even hotter! This means I need to be particularly good about avoiding spicy or fried foods, because they are extremely aggravating to my Pitta dosha. Instead I need to favor those cooling foods to honor my Pitta dosha, and juicy, liquidy foods to nourish rasa and rakta dhatus during these first few months.

So what am I able to eat? The most nourishing foods are cooling milks, sweet grains, puddings, juicy fruits, oatmeal and soups. I am also eating lots of good quality hard cheese and crackers, cottage cheese, and sprouted spelt bread with cream cheese. While these foods may not be ideal, I also don’t think they are horrible, and they seem to take care of the nausea when I need something to eat fast. Yes, I am currently eating some high quality humane meat, because it tastes good to get some more protein.

While they might not seem like a big deal, I am learning that avoiding spicy foods is really important for me. I can usually get away with a spicy Indian meal once in a while, but not right now. The other night I ate some spicy Indian food, and not surprisingly, I had indigestion all night. So back to simple foods, and lots of liquids.

As always I would love to hear from you!

With Love, Kerry

My Pregnancy and What Ayurveda Has to Say

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As women, one of the most powerful actions we can take during pregnancy is to provide ourselves and others with love and support. I believe that no matter how much one prepares to bring a child into the world, or ‘understands’ the progression of pregnancy, it’s still a unique journey every time a woman embarks on it. One that carries with it a tremendous amount of vulnerability, and exciting but also scary ‘unknowns.’ “Will I be okay, is this little cramp a big deal, does this headache mean something, is the baby okay” etc. As you may already know, one of our biggest goals through Mam?yurveda is to provide you with support, understanding, and nourishment for your journey. In that vein, I have decided to write about my personal experience during pregnancy.

Yes, I’m pregnant! My little munchkin is currently about 10 weeks old (12th week of pregnancy), but since I have been away for these last few months,  I wanted to share some of what I have already experienced and then move forward with my pregnancy. I hope to share with you some of my personal experiences, what has worked, and what Ayurveda suggests during different stages of care. I have already noticed that even though this is my second pregnancy, it requires the same amount of vulnerability and surrender to all that may unfold. I would love for you to share your comments and experiences, and hopefully we can create a fun, supportive dialogue and online community!

Thanks for reading!

With love, Kerry