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Ancient Methods Of Post Natal Care

Post natal care is not an area of medicine for which we hark back to the ancients. The post partum care techniques of our forefathers have been discarded in favor of modern medicine. Ancient methods of care after birth have been maligned in all sort of way by calling them names ranging from unscientific to barbaric. However, it so appears that the ancients might not have got it all that wrong. There has been a trend of renewed interest in the post natal care techniques of ancient India.

Important Dictums of Ancient Post Partum Care:

  • In the olden times, the new mother and baby were totally isolated from everybody. Nobody, not even the father was allowed to visit them outside of scheduled meeting times. This was done to eliminate the chances of any infections that the mother and infant might pick up from others.
  • Keeping in mind the delicate health of the mother, this isolation freed her from the obligation of helping with the household chores
  • Even today, a certain degree of isolation for the mother is advisable to safe guard against infections and also for the mental peace and tranquility of the mother. Limited visits from friends and family ensure that baby adjusts to the new environment well.
  • In ancient India, the mother and child were both subjected to body massages in the post natal care period. These massages with ayurvedic hot oils gave the mother relief from aching joints due to her increased weight and stagnation. The baby in its post partum care period benefited by gaining muscular strength.
  • This was a very scientific method that still has supporters. Massaging increases the blood circulation of the baby and it has been proven that the baby walks faster.
  • The nursing mother in the post natal care period was put on a diet of milk and milk products and denied any non vegetarian foods. This was to prevent the mother from getting any worms or other infections from meat which decomposes faster. The milk and ghree (calcified butter) took care of her protein needs. She was also not given any spicy food so that the harsh spices don't assault the baby's soft palate.
  • Even today it is not advisable for the mother to eat frozen meats or food with preservatives as these might adversely impact the baby's health during the after birth care period. Now a days even sauces are considered potentially unsafe.
  • The ancient techniques of care for the new mother have proved to reduce the risks of post partum depression. As the mother delivered at her mothers home, she was stress free and tended to at all times. Contrast that with today when mothers are joining work within a week of delivering. They are often alone with no help which stresses them out and causes depression.

A mix of the ancient wisdom with modern medicine can work wonders to improve post natal care for the new mother and baby.

Story first published: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 18:30 [IST]
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