Independence Day 2014: Traditional Indian practices that every pregnant woman and a new mother should follow

pregnant womanWhen it comes to pregnancy and postpartum health, every culture has its own customs and traditions to follow. In India there is no dearth of such rituals and customs, but modern Indian women often deviate from traditional values to go with modern day trends and fads. However, it makes sense to go back to the basics for the benefit of both the mother and the baby. Here are a few of the listed traditions that every woman should follow:

Revealing pregnancy after the third month: According to Indian customs, it is believed that keeping the pregnancy a secret helps to ward off evil eye that could harm the mother and the baby in some ways. The scientific explanation to this belief is that, the first three months of pregnancy are crucial. The chances of miscarriage are high and any undue strain or stress can harm the mother and affect her pregnancy. It makes sense to follow this custom and keep pregnancy a secret to avoid unwanted and unsolicited advise during the most tiring and crucial phase of pregnancy.

Practise garbhasnaskar: In India it is believed that a mother, and also the father, can connect to the baby right after the conception and help the child transform into a healthy human being. In ancient hindu texts and vedas this entire process is thought to be a scared way of bonding by stimulating the baby's senses in the womb through Garbhasanskar, where garbha means the womb and sanskar means imparting good values. It is done in a methodical way by chanting mantras pertaining to a specific purpose each month and instilling positive energy and right values in the child when in the womb, through inspirational and soulful words.

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Eat a satwik diet: Often during pregnancy, a mother is advised to eat healthy and wholesome food. Despite all the knowledge and advice, one tends to commit mistakes with diet choices. The Indian way to boost a pregnancy diet is to have a satwik diet or aahar that constitutes the seven essential components of food, which promise tranquillity between mind and the body. For your baby to thrive and grow in a peaceful environment inside the womb this semblance is necessary. A relaxed mind and body will house a healthy child. So have the seven essentials in your diet without any compromise; these will include, water, cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy products and special herbs.

Recite the sacred mantra: Modern Indian mums might indulge in music therapy for the fetus for the same purpose; however, chanting a sacred mantra during pregnancy has its own importance as stated in the Indian texts. The sounds like Om, Kim, Hrim, Kshim, Pum, Sum, Hran when chanted repeatedly by the mother, the mantras produce resonating sounds that appeal to the inner spiritual self and subconscious mind providing the mother and the baby with peace and positive energy that does them a lot of good.

Nurture a life outside the womb too: This ancient Indian practise is almost forgotten in today's fast paced life. However, it is advised and still practised in many sects of society, where the expectant mother is asked to plant a sapling of tulsi or basil and nurture the plant throughout her pregnancy. While watering the plant the mother is asked to recite mantras that will invoke positive thoughts and feelings in the fetus. This signifies that the mother is caring enough for her baby and will help the child grow up as a strong individual with strong roots after birth. Many elders believe that this act reminds the mother that it's important for her to care for self as she cares for the sapling for her baby's well-being.

Arrange a godhbharai: The modern day version of this ritual is called Baby Shower. However, the customs that need to be performed have slowly degraded. These days the objective is to have a get-together of sorts which surely lifts the mood of the expectant mother, but fails to highlight its significance. The Indian tradition encourages the ceremony to be carried out during the seventh or ninth month of pregnancy. During this custom the mother is dressed in traditional clothes and showered with gifts, fruits and sweets that are placed on the pallu of her saree. The gifts and other essentials are said to be given by other elders and well wishers of the family who bless the baby my making the mother feel happy and satisfied. A godhbharai is usually arranged by the family for the expectant mother.

Staying confined after delivery: In the Indian culture the mother and the baby are kept in confinement after the delivery. The period differs from one community to other. In some sects the confinement period is for 40 days and in some cases it can extend to 60 days too. Like other Indian superstitious belief, it is said that staying indoors for a specific period of time wards off evil eye. However the scientific explanation is that staying in confinement for days preceding delivery ensures protection from infection and other illness that both mother and the baby are prone to after the delivery.

Eat foods that aid lactation: After the delivery the mother's prime task is to feed and nurture the baby through breastfeeding. Hence, it is important to have foods that will help in the process. In Indian culture it is said that ladoos made of meethi help a lot in the process. Apart from this, vegetables like gourd, or tori should be had in abundance for the same purpose.

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