Siddhars through their emminent knowledge and vision emphasized on the ‘way of life’ through Siddha Medicine. Our daily life, routine, food, diet, medicinal aspects, prevention of diseases etc are described in various poems written by Siddhars. In ‘Agasthiyar Pindor-urpathi’ Siddhar Agasthiyar described how union of male and female gamete, through a series of changes transforms into an individual and its arrival to the new world. Siddha is a health system which is most ancient and based on Three humoural (Vali, Azhal, Iyam) and Five Elemental (Prithivi, Vayu, Appu, Theyu, and Akayam) Theory.
A woman undergoes various changes during the journey called pregnancy. Her shape, body features, internal organs, body fluids, body elements etc undergo changes so that the little one growing inside is nourished, protected and nurtured. Delivery takes place by the end of gestational period of 286 days(approx). The foetus after its complete development, decends down the birth canal. The vayus mainly increased abanan and theyu bhootham present in the mothers body helps to expell the foetus out of the birth canal through vagina. During labour the uterus or Karuppai experiences regular periodic contractions which increases with frequency and intensity as labour progresses. As soon the head crowns, the rest of the body pushes downwards. The stretching of pelvis and pelvic floor muscles, uterine contractions, dialatation of cervix and vagina results in extreme pain. In addition to this, the mother has to put extra effort and pressure from her side too causing tirednes, sweating and exertion. If the baby is a big one then the delivery becomes even more difficult.
After the delivery, the mother becomes weak and exhausted. Usually normal or vaginal delivery is considered safe and healthy. But if the pregnancy is high risk or if the baby is in an abnormal position, an elective Caesarean section is preffered.
Postpartum care is considered as important as prenatal care because pregnancy brings about various negative effects in the mothers body. Vatha increases during pregnancy. Digestion, Respiration and in short complete general health of mother is affected. Postpartum care in Siddha Medicine is described below revealing the Traditional Medicinal values and methods. Basically post partum treatment is compulsory for 45 days after delivery. During these 45 days, mother and baby, is given equal care. Mother is always assisted by elders even while nursing the baby. This gives her confidence and encouragement in her future motherhood. She is never left alone and kept cheerful as stress can hamper healing and lactation. Proper rest and sleep is given else she may undergo post partum depression. Good nutrition and care is given. Post natal care differs in some ways according to the mode of delivery. A delivered woman should be given treatment to combat the following.
Vatha increases in pregnancy producing pain, muscle cramps, swelling over joints, indigestion, flatulance, skin discolouration, insomnia etc. Hence aggrevated vatha has to be normalised giving proper food and medicine after delivery. Avoid cold and dry food stuffs. Massage with warm oil is beneficial, carminative and digestives can be given. Traditional medicines to normalise vatha is given.
Restore and improve Pithaagni
Pithaagni or Anal Pitam is reduced during pregnancy causing indigestion. Eating healthy nutritious meal and foods rich in Gum acacia, Turmeric Cinnamom, Cumin, Nutmeg, Peper, Cardomom, Fenugreek, Corriander, Ajwain (Omam), Garlic, Ginger etc treats indigetion and restores digestive fire.
Improving Breast milk
Lactation is a very important aspect after delivery. The digestion and GIT health of the baby completely depends on the mother’s diet. A healthy diet of the mother gives the baby good immunity and improves its intestinal flora. So the mother should avoid junk foods, spicy, oily, and artificial flavouring foods especially from restaurants. Home prepared foods from drum sticks, unripe Papaya, Sesame seeds, Fenugreek, Ginger, Cereals, Moong daal, Idili, Oats, Nuts like cashew, almonds etc are very good in improving milk production in lactating woman. Lactating woman should drink enough water during lactation. Also include green vegetables, Carrot beet root etc in diet.
Medicines like Amukkura choornam with hot milk or powder of Satavari or Tanneervittan kizhangu with hot milk are good lactogogue.
A pregnant woman an suffer from chronic constipation and piles during the course of pregnancy and after delivery. Hence diet rich in fibres, cereals, and water should be consumed. Green vegetables and fruits should be major portion of the diet. Overeating should be avoided.
Support Uterus to regain its shape and size
Usually it takes six months for the uterus to return back to the previous size. Foods rich in turmeric, fenugreek, gumacacia, green papaya, sesame, cetain fish varieties etc should be given. Uterine tonics and some traditional medicines are given for nourishing and toning the uterus. Avoid long trips and heavy work for 2 months.
Normal or Vaginal Delivery
Normal delivery makes the delivered mother weak and tired. She needs special care for her bones especially joints and hip, her reproductive organs specially uterus, Gastrointestinal system and also her Mental health.After vaginal delivery, usually 3 days hospital stay is observed. If mother or the baby has any health issues, hospital stay may be extended. Traditionally there are medicines and applications recommended for delivered mothers during the post partum period. Some of these medicines shall be further discussed in this article.
If pregnant mothers suffer from conditions like Pre-eclampsia, Eclapmsia, Abruptio-placenta, Placenta previa etc or if the baby is not fit for normal delivery, an elective C-section is preferred. The patient is given local/general anaesthesia and the surgery is performed. Usually a 5 dys hospital stay is observed if no complication is seen. On the first day after delivery, the mother is kept in ICU for observation. She is not given anything to eat or drink, an intra venous drip and catheter is inserted for 2 days. She experiences gassy abdomen and pain over low back due to contant lying. After 48 hours, the catheter is taken out. She can only Take warm fluids like gruel water or balck tea initially. After the removal of IV channel she can take light foods liquid in nature. Moving around becomes extemely painful sometimes. Laxatives are usually provided to prevent constipation. Mothers who have delivered through C-section needs more care. This is because scar in abdomen needs proper healing else it would result in uterine infection. On the fifth day, sutures are removed but still care should be taken to prevent it from ripening, it should be kept dry. Ladies undergoing C-section should be given special diet to compensate the blood loss which she has undergone during surgery.
Food after delivery
At home special care should be given in food aspect of a delivered mother. As feeding may make her dehydrated and tired she should be given enough water and fluids to drink. First 8 days, easily digestible foods like gruel, iddli, moogdal soup, vegetable soup, salads should be given. Rice meal with vegetables can be given in afternoon as lunch. Tea, coffee and beverages can be avoided for first 10 days atleast. A glass of hot milk can be mixed with 1/4 teaspoons of turmeric and given. Food which increases breast milk and expelling lochia can also be given. Astringent vegetables like figs, plantain should not be given first as it prevents gradual lochia discharge. Foods causing ezcema, indigestion, non veg foods, spicy foods, tamarind, red chilly should be strictly avoided at least for 1 month after delivery. During the first month, steamed food, rice food, fresh vegetables and fruits can be given. Gruel cooked in coconut milk and little fenugreek is healthy for morning. Not too much or too less, a delivered lady should eat moderately. Meals must be broken and frequent initially to avoid flatulance and abdominal disturbance. Foods rich in calcium like milk, butter milk, can be given. Vegetables must be cooked well with less oil and adequate amount of spices like fenugreek, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, cardomom, garlic, ginger, gum acacia, sesame etc. After 1 month soup of goats spine can be given for seven days to strengthen the hip. Fishes, eggs, nuts like almonds and cashew etc can be consumed after 1 month. Ocassionally chicken curry or mutton curry cooked well with above said spices can be consumed. Always make the diet low fat version. Little or low sugar or fat should be used. Alcohol, aerated drinks, too much of coffee and tea, smoking, pea nuts etc should be strictly avoided in post partum period and during lactation.
Tips to reduce weight after delivery
A mother puts on around 12 to 16 kg weight during pregnancy period. Her back and abdominal area gets deposited with fat. The tummy becomes huge by the end of nine months as the baby grows fully in size and shape with all organal devolopment. After delivery the abdomen looks loose and flabby with stretch marks running all over. A mother should never get tensed and worried about this weight gain and extra fat deposit. As the additional weight is put in 9 months so it normally takes more or less 1 year to come back to the normal figure or shape. Avoid heavy exrecises especially if Caesarean section is done. Always consult a doctor before starting execises. Mild walking should be given first priority and can be started 10 to 20 days after delivery. It depends upon body of each woman when they get prepared for exercise as healing process may differ from person to person. However, breathing exercise and Kegel exercise (Pelvic floor muscle exercise) is the best exercise to start with, soon after the delivery. Vigourous and heavy exercises should be avoided atleast for 3 months. The best way to lose weight is breast feeding as it also helps the uterus to return back to the original shape and position. Make the diet rich in proteins, fibres, vitamins, minerals and low in fat. Always keep patience else any physical stress or strain may result into ripening and tearing of the suture.
Siddha Medicines after delivery
The internal medicines given after delivery should be rich in iron and calcium content. It should promote proper digestion and prevent flatulence and constipation. It should tone the uterus and improve breast milk. The following internal medicines are given
- Ashtavarga choornam – Once or twice a day
- Amukkura choornam – (Night time)
- Shathavari choornam (Night time)
- Thaleesathi vadagam (One tablet thrice a day)
- Injhi vadagam (Once or twice a day)
- Ksheerabala 101 capsule (Twice or thrice a day)
- Dhanvantharam 101 capsule (Twice or thrice a day)
- Kurinjhi kuzhambu (Twice or thrice a day)
- Kurunthotti pal kudineer (Twice a day)
- Moogdal soup
- Mutton curry occasionally
- Manathakkali Keerai to reduce internal heat and tone the uterus.
These are general medicines given during post partum period. Please consult a Siddha physician to know proper dose and time period for consumption of each medicine.
Siddha External applications
Oil massage and medicated Vedhu can be provided after one week of normal delivery. Gentle warm body massage with mustard oil especially over abdomen, pelvic floor and thigh is best. Oils like Kayatherumeni , Sivappukukkil, Nalpamaradi is beneficial and can be used alternately. After one hour medicated vedhu water is used to give bath. During bath intead of soap, Medicinal Kuliyal Choornam can be used. Panchakalpa Kuliyal Choornam boiled in cow’s milk can be applied over scalp and body for 15 minutes, then bath can be given with mwdicated warm water. This will prevent hair fall, tone the scalp and give shine to the body. If the lady has under gone Caesarean, oil massage and vedhu can be given after 15 days. Avoid pouring boiled water over suture and scalp. After the bath, scalp and body should be wiped well with a dry towel. Always keep the areas of suture clean and dry. A large piece of cotton cloth can be tied tightly covering abdominal area. This will support the back and prevent vayu accumulation in abdomen. External and internal medications is mandatory for 45 days and can be extented up to 90 days. People in olden days followed traditional way of life. Really astonishing that our grandmothers delivered around a dozen of kids but still remained healthy without any complaints like uterine prolapse, hernia, haemorroids, rheumatic ailments etc. This is because they followed traditional medical aspects and implemented them throughout their life. Hence being modern or westernised can bring many adverse effects in our life. We have to return back to our traditional methods where we can find our Mother nature’s care and protection without any side effects or harm. Always trust your tradition and beleive in the medical treasure which our Siddhars blessed us thousands of years back.