Supporting Postpartum Digestion
Did you know, that through an Ayurvedic lens, birth is the ultimate cleanse?
It is a vast transition, where the strengthening waves of birth combine with the swiftly pushing wind to intitiate you into motherhood. An event so powerful, so significant, and yet so very simple - that it actually diminishes your digestive fire.
Agni, your inner fire, is found throughout your body. It is warmth. It is transformation. It is your ability to take one experience or product and digest it - turn it into something that you can use. We see this on an intellectual level, and all the way down to a cellular level, but arguably the most important agni is that of our digestion. This agni is located in our stomach. It governs the digestion, absorption and the assimilation (integration/ use) of our food and nutrients. Ayurveda teaches us that when this agni is well, all other agni is also well.
In other words, supporting the wellbeing of your digestion directly impacts the health of your mind and all other body functions.
That powerful rush of Birth actually serves the purpose of opening you, not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and energetically. Birth lays everything on the table - exposes everything within you - so that you can unpack and do the deepest healing of your lifetime.
Mindful food and herbal support can help process the materials that surface during birth and beyond.
But how does this work if your digestive fire is but burning coals? Lets talk about it.
Rekindling Your Agni for Deep Healing
Each of us have a unique doshic constitution, which affects our baseline digestion. We can work with this constitution in mind, in relation to what our body is telling us in the moment to cultivate beautiful supportive foods and drinks that are nourishing and supportive of resiliency.
When selecting what foods and herbs to utilize, prioritize fresh organic foods from a loving source. Freezing, canning, and pre-cooking foods takes away some of the foods energetic vitality - a beautiful component of your own vital energy. Think of purity and protection. These qualities are much easier for your body to digest, creating space for past and present experiences to be digested as well. This in turn helps that ama, or undigested material, become integrated into your life and moved out of your body- which feels oh so very wonderful. This is the magic of birth - the kayakalpa that follows is a time of deep, deep healing that impacts us for the rest of our lives.
The earliest days postpartum are the most delicate - requiring space for rest and integration of the birth. Choosing sweet, gently warming spices in simple foods such as porridge or broth in this time helps rebuild the digestive foundation. Foods should be served warm, well cooked, well spiced, oily, and should be easy to digest for optimum support. As postpartum progresses, and agni strengthens, the herbs and foods you enjoy will shift to reflect to meet the needs of the present moment. By 6-8 weeks postpartum, you can expect to be ready to enjoy the complex foods that you did before birth, and of course, you can always incorporate simpler foods as needed at any time in your life.
Herbs for Postpartum Digestion
The following herbs are just a few of the supports available to you in your sacred window. They can be used in teas (which also contributes to warmth and hydration), added into your favorite foods and drinks, or even eaten on their own!
Here are my top 3 favorite postpartum- supportive spices that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Ahhhh, sweet cozy cinnamon, how I love her so.
Cinnamon is perfect for those crisp, cool autumn days - or in Ayurvedic terms, for vata season (hello, postpartum!). I always think of a dash of cinnamon in any recipe like a warm hug. More than that - cinnamon helps to stimulate digestion and supports the absorption of nutrients we consume. Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory and helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which feels so good when tending to your newborn distracts you from eating on time.
Ginger is gently warming and anti-inflammatory, making it ideal even for pitta-dominant mothers and those in hot climates. Ginger added to food, served as tea, or as a hard candy can soothe bloating, indigestion, and nausea. Ginger is also an anti-oxidant, helping protect your body from free radicals and supporting immune function.
Pungent, and slightly sweet, Ginger pairs well with nutmeg and cinnamon on baked fruit, in a creamy smoothie, or in your oatmeal with some blanched almonds!
I know the pungent flavor of black pepper is one of those "love it or leave it" things - but did you know that black pepper stimulates your stomach's digestive juices? It's carminative action also helps to relieve uncomforatable gas and bloating, which can be common when vata is aggravated.
I add ground black pepper to mostly everything that is not sweet in nature - rice, broths and soups, eggs, mashed potatoes, well-cooked casseroles, and even avocados.
The herbs and spices you choose to use in your postpartum, or any other time for that matter, should feel intuitively good to you. I have often found that I felt suddenly called to herbs, foods and spices that were foreign to me, just to research and find that they held the medicinal supportive properties that I needed at the time. It is true - Food is Medicine.
I would love to hear about your experiences with postpartum digestion, and how these (and other) herbs have supported you! Comment below or send us an email to share!
Want More? I Got You.
42 Days Within Consultation
This 30-minute session is for:
Exploring your vision for the transitional weeks after birth.
Getting a feel for Ayurvedic Postpartum Care unique to your doshic constitution.
Building a relationship for ongoing individualized support.
Schedule your Private Session Here
By the Way. . .
Have You Seen our Healing the Heart Webinar?
Arielle de Martinez is a mother and folk herbalist near and dear to our hearts. In this webinar, she shares the plant allies that supported her in her personal healing through grief and birth trauma, and that she recommends for postpartum mothers.
The recording of this rich webinar, complete with the beautiful corresponding pdf is available here.