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Ayurveda Foetal Development

In the classical Ayurvedic texts, the gradual development of the growing baby in the womb is described. A major component to the physical formation of the foetus is the dhatus, or bodily tissues, as they hold the structure of the body.

1st Trimester: From the moment of conception to the end of the first 14 weeks or so, a tremendous amount of growth and development occur. Mainly, however, it is generalized by a state of fluid, as the embryo is in a jelly-like state until the end of the first several weeks. The rasa dhatu, or tissue of plasma, serum and lymph represent the fluids of the body and are what is mainly being developed at this time, along with the foetal growth organs. The sense organs and all the limbs emerge simultaneously.

Another important milestone that occurs in this stage of life is the beating of the heart. In Ayurveda, the heart is considered the seat of consciousness. The heart of the foetus is connected to the heart of the mother through arteries and the placenta. It is through this incredible link that feelings of the baby are said to be felt by the mother during this period. One of the most critical guidelines in pregnancy recommendations is that the mother be taken care of and given anything she desires in the third month especially in order to prevent any mental or physical suffering of the child. ┬áIt is considered very important to pay close attention to cravings, desires, and a state of love and happiness. Any deprivation the mother feels, the baby will inevitably feel as well. The mother’s feeling of contentment and connection with the baby helps to ensure proper development of the baby’s heart

2nd Trimester: During the fourth month, the development of the foetal dhatus continues. By 18 weeks, rakta dhatu and mamsa dhatu, red blood cells and muscle tissue, begin to rapidly form, which are given nourishment by rasa dhatu. Because of the increase in the baby’s strength, the mother may lose some vitality during this month. By the sixth month, meda dhatu, fatty tissue, as well as the upadhatus become the main focus of development. Upadhatus are the minor tissue of each dhatu, including body hair, tendons, blood vessels, skin, to name a few.

3rd Trimester: By the seventh month of gestation, the fetal growth is nearly complete. The organs are finely tuned and refined, and weight gain rapidly increases. The eighth month is one of great significance. During the eighth month, ojas is transferred from the mother to the growing baby. Ojas has no western equivalent, but is the most refined product of digestion, and is present only in small amounts in the body. It is said to be a person’s essence, vitality, immunity, and what gives a person luster and glow in the skin. It is what gives a feeling of contentment and pure consciousness (2, pg. 84). Because of this, the pregnant woman should take a lot of rest, do no traveling, and focus on proper diet and digestion in order to keep deliver healthy ojas to the baby while keeping her own ojas in adequate quantity. During the ninth month, the baby’s organs continue to refine and grow. By the last few weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s position should be head facing down and face toward the back of the mother to prepare for a journey through the birth canal.

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