Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.
Ayurveda is nothing new to many women and families. It’s part and parcel of everyday life and everyone knows what to expect postpartum.
Even where it has no name, it holds form and structure.
The family and community take comfort, rhythm and regularity from the simple depth of these practices, and each tribe, clan or extended family brings their own nuances relevant to the time of year and landscape around them.
The other reality of this norm and care is that typically the Mother/ Mother-in-Law/Aunties come in with ‘this is what we’re doing’ and the woman has no choice, no say in co-creating her postpartum experience.
When everyone is aligned and agreeable to these expectations there is perhaps no harm in this at all. It takes the shape of loving care and delivers optimal physical, mental and spiritual wellness to the mother. She does not need to claim autonomy or have the burden of evaluating informed choice, because everyone is content and reassured that all is well in the world with these communal values.
However, when we move this approach into a society that demands a different type of conformity such as returning to work early in the postpartum, having various ways available to feed baby, a rainbow of food types available for Mom, and a whole array of confusing and conflicting opinions from ‘experts’ about how it’s best to birth and raise children - then it can become a danger to make assumptions about anything.
“We train caregivers to meet that family where they are.”
In a time where we all need to reflect on cultural appropriation, how do Ayurdoulas bring the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to the Western world in a way that is both in integrity with their own culture, (whatever that may be), and the doshic background of the land they live on, the current season, and most importantly of all, the cultural norms of the woman and family they are serving.
“We really want to look at the environment that that person is comfortable in, and what their background is, what their food background is, what their heritage is, and look at the types of foods and the type of caregiving that is going to be specifically nurturing to that person.”
The modern approach takes the best of the old culture and brings in empowered choice.
"Let’s create this to be ‘a-person-who-is-actually-going-through-the-process’ centred approach rather than imposing a culture onto someone."
The beauty of Ayurveda is that it is timeless and dynamic. It is utterly responsive to each unique set of circumstances a woman and her baby find themselves in. It’s always balancing, nourishing and enriching; regardless of how much change and ‘chaos’ may be going on outside.
The chaos itself guides TO the medicine.
Training to become, or hiring an Ayurdoula, is never about ripping off a culture to be hippy or cool, nor to make money at someone else’s expense.
It is rather about (re)turning to intuition and wisdom. It is about integrating a system of wellbeing principles at a time when women are having a universal human experience and are most ripe for healing.
The Ayurdoula herself must be transformed by the work in order to serve through these guiding principles. This is what makes Ayurveda both a science and an art, and it demands that we actually embody and live the change we want to see in the world.
We hope you will join us on this journey of discovery.
Writing compliments of
Mother, Doula, Homeopath
Oum Ibrahim birthed joyfully into motherhood in 1999 and has been serving women as a doula ever since. A mom of many, homeopath and soft tissue therapist, she is drawn to the rhythm and respect that Ayurveda offers for all seasons of life. Oum has a particular fascination with the formation of community and relationships and you can read some of her ponderings here on the Sacred Window Blog.