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As you prepare yourself for pregnancy, you gradually rediscover your inner strength – your patience, calmness, and energy. You realise that you need to take care of yourself, so that the baby inside you is born as a healthy and capable child who can face the pressures of our increasingly complex world. An Ayurvedic solution to this situation has slowly gained momentum — a process called Garbh Sanskar.
What is Garbh Sanskar?
Every parent wants the best for their child. A healthy pregnancy not only ensures a baby’s health in the womb, but after birth, too. The practice of Garbh Sanskar has gained popularity as an enabler for the mental and physical development of the baby.
The knowledge of Garbh Sanskar dates back to ancient scriptures, and it is included in the Ayurveda. The word Garbh in Sanskrit refers to the foetus in the womb, and Sanskar means education of the mind. So, Garbh Sanskar translates into the process of educating the mind of the unborn baby.
It is traditionally believed that a child’s mental and behavioural development starts in the womb, and that it can be influenced by the mother’s emotional state during her pregnancy. The practice has been a part of Hindu tradition since time immemorial – it is evidenced by stories of how Garbh Sanskar had a very positive effect on mythological characters like Abhimanyu and Prahlad, who were enlightened in their mothers’ wombs.
Mother-baby bonding begins as soon as a woman conceives. As odd as that may sound, any mother will tell you that she unconsciously begins speaking to the foetus inside her. You can see plenty of mommy-to-bes speaking to their baby bumps or even making an effort to think good thoughts or do things that soothe the baby. While most pregnant mothers do it as a feel-good factor, it does have more deep-rooted benefits.
There is now a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the practices related to Garbh Sanskar and their effects on an unborn child. Modern studies have proved that a foetus can respond to external stimuli. In fact, the hormonal secretions activated by the mother’s thoughts can also impact the baby in her womb!
Thus, while Garbh Sanskar is believed to benefit the baby, it is not focused solely on the child. These practices ensure that the mother is also healthy and in a positive state of mind. Activities such as changes in diet and lifestyle are recommended to pregnant women through the practice of Garbh Sanskar.
When to Start Garbh Sanskar While Pregnant
Garbh Sanskar is not only about the care taken during pregnancy, but about starting preparations at least a year before conception. Garbh Sanskar covers pre-pregnancy, pregnancy as well as the breastfeeding phase, guiding parents until the child is about 2 years old.
Different Prenatal Education Practices
References to Garbh Sanskar can be found in ancient Hindu Puranas and the Vedas. But you’ll be surprised to know that the practice is not limited to India alone! Different cultures around the world encourage the nurturing of the bond between the mother and the growing baby, which is similar to the concept of ‘education in the womb.’ Mothers in Western countries often listen to classical music like that of maestros like Mozart to make their child smart.
The wisdom of Garbha Sanskar can be assessed from the fact that several modern prenatal practices are derived from it. These include:
- Autosuggestion and hypnosis: These are meditation techniques which occupy the mind with an idea that can turn into reality.
- Colour therapy: This includes the use of light and colour to balance the mind. Certain colours can uplift the mood and have a positive effect on the mind.
- Aromatherapy: This uses the sense of smell to sharpen the senses, and soothe the body and mind. Essential oils and other aromatics may be used to help the mother de-stress.
List of Garbh Sanskar Activities for Pregnant Women
According to Ayurveda, Garbh Sanskar is one of the best ways to give birth to a healthy baby. It’s all about the mother maintaining a sound state of mind, not only mentally, but physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Ayurvedic Garbh Sanskar suggests certain guidelines that pregnant women can keep in mind for for themselves and the unborn baby. These include:
1. Healthy Eating Habits
A good dietary regime is an essential aspect of pregnancy, as the growth of the foetus depends upon the health and nutrition of the mother. According to Ayurveda, the Ahara-rasa, which is nutrition obtained from the mother’s diet, helps in the nourishment of the mother herself, the growth of the baby and preparation for formation of breast milk. A balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals is recommended for this. The mother’s diet during pregnancy (Garbh Sanskar food) should have a balanced amount of calcium, folic acid and iron.
Garbh Sanskar food in pregnancy includes Sattvik food which refers to freshly prepared, nutrient-rich food that includes all five tastes – sweet, salty, pungent, bitter and sour. Ayurveda recommends the consumption of Panchamrut, which is beneficial for boosting potency and immunity. This is made with one spoon curd, honey, sugar and two spoons of ghee or clarified butter mixed with eight spoons of milk. At the same time, abstinence from addictive substances is advised.
2. Positive Thinking
Pregnancy can make you moody, irritable, sad, and anxious, thanks to a number of hormones that are raging through your body! Garbh Sanskar helps you manage your emotions and bring them to a stable state, which is good for both mother and baby. You could cultivate a new hobby that makes you joyful or calm, or you could get back to doing things that make you happy.
3. Practising Yoga or Light Exercise
Garbh Sanskar recommends that pregnant women take up some light form of exercise or yoga for the physical well-being of both the mother and the child. Here are the benefits of such exercise:
- Pranayama breathing exercises help to calm and relax the body while preparing you for breath control during childbirth.
- Light exercise increases flexibility, improves blood circulation and reduces backaches during pregnancy.
- Specific Garbh Sanskar yoga asanas boost the mother’s chances of having a full-term normal delivery with minimal labour pain.
Meditation is an important aspect of Garbh Sanskaar. It is beneficial for the body, as it de-stresses the mind. It involves getting into the ‘zero state of mind’, which can help bring peace and tranquillity and enhance concentration. Visualising good things about the baby while you meditate is also a great way to bond and think positively, which can help both you and the baby.
Praying is an important part of Garbh Sanskar, and is believed to be good for the spiritual development of the baby. Ancient scriptures contain mantras and shlokas which are beneficial for unborn babies. Your prayers bless the baby with good health and moral values, and are an essential part of spiritual belief.
6. Listening to Music for Peace of Mind
Garbh Sanskar states that a baby can respond to music while in the mother’s womb. In fact, ancient literature says that a baby starts hearing and responding to its surroundings from the seventh month of pregnancy. This is why the mother should listen to melodious music which has a calming and soothing effect on her. Singing, reciting, or listening to soft, spiritual songs, mantras and shlokas are beneficial for both the mother and the child.
7. Reading Calming or Spiritual Books
Garbh Sanskar recommends reading spiritual books, which bring about a feeling of contentment and satisfaction. Additionally, Garbh Sanskar also stresses on the fact that reading educational books shapes the personality of the child in the womb! It is believed that reading aloud when you are pregnant can help pass on the wisdom to your unborn child. Books with moral values or mythological stories are recommended, but you can choose any book you enjoy reading!
8. Keeping the Mind Relaxed and Happy
As per the guiding practices of Garbh Sanskar, the mother should not indulge in activities or practices which stress her out. Taking undue stress or watching or reading things which scare or worry you are not recommended during your pregnancy, as they can trigger the release of hormones which may have an adverse effect on the foetus. Try to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually content during those nine months, for the sake of your baby!
9. Consuming Herbal Ghee during Pregnancy
Ayurveda recommends adding medicated ghee made from cow’s milk to your diet during the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th month of pregnancy. It is said to be beneficial for the mental and physical development of the baby, and can help prevent congenital abnormalities in the foetus. According to Ayurveda, medicated ghee might also help the mother have a full-term normal delivery. However, do consult your doctor about what you can and cannot add to your diet, as every pregnancy is not the same.
10. Channel Your Creativity
Being creative during your pregnancy not only keeps your mind occupied but as per Garbh Sanskar, you can pass on your creativity to your baby! Hobbies like knitting, painting, gardening or even pottery can help in busting stress and keeping you happy while ensuring that your child is born with a wonderful creative streak.
Benefits of Garbh Sanskar During Pregnancy
It is up to the mother to shape the first impressions of the baby. Positive thinking and a positive attitude can go a long way in ensuring the mental and physical well-being of the mother, which is linked to the well-being of the baby inside her womb. Garbh Sanskar helps develop that eternal bond between the mother and her unborn child.
While experts encourage practising Garbh Sanskar for the mommy’s well-being, there are also long-term benefits for the baby that might not immediately be recognised. Communication with the baby is ‘garbha samwaad’ that contributes to the mental growth of the baby and helps to build a strong bond with the mother.
Listening to music and reading to the unborn child can later help your baby become a sound sleeper or have better sleeping habits. Your baby might become more alert, aware and confident, as well as respond to stimulus better, and be more active and content. The mother-baby bonding might even make your baby breastfeed in a better way.
How Garbh Sanskar Music Helps Your Child
Since it is believed that a foetus can respond to external stimuli, especially from the 7th month onward, the therapeutic effect of music can play an essential role in the baby’s development, according to Garbh Sanskar. The nearest sound for the baby is the mother’s heartbeat, and that is why it is believed that a crying baby can be soothed by being held close to the chest. As the child hears something familiar, it can bring about a sense of calmness. The same logic applies to music, and much like the rhythm of a beating heart, the rhythm of music has a calming effect, too.
Garbh Sanskar believes that the sound of the veena, a string instrument, and the flute, have sounds which can soothe the mind and soul. In fact, these days, there are several Garbh Sanskar songs available on CDs or on the Internet.
Garbh Sanskar Tips
Here are some simple tips that can help nurture the special bond between the mother and the baby:
- Caress and talk to your baby. Even the father should take turns in familiarising the baby with his voice. It might sound like an odd thing to do, but it can go a long way in developing the bond between the parents and the baby
- Talk to your baby about something different every day. Modulate your voice and tell him how happy you are to have him in your life, and how you just cannot wait to hold your baby close to you.
- Staying positive is very important. Avoid stresses and bad thoughts.
- A holiday in a scenic place might also help you relax. Consider a vacation if you are finding it hard to relax mentally. Babymoons are gaining a lot of popularity these days, and for good reason!
While these practices may seem odd initially, they are sure to grow on you and have a positive impact on your relationship with your baby. Garbh Sansakar finds its roots in ancient practices, and it focuses on the well-being of the mother and the healthy development of the child. But more than this, Garbh Sanskar focuses on fostering an everlasting bond between the mother and the child. A healthy diet, positive thoughts, regular exercise and a loving bond are the components of Garbh Sanskar. Practice the simple tenets of Garbh Sanskaar, and experience the peace they offer you and your child!