Words and Recipes by a Botanical & Ayurvedic Doula
Author: Erika Elliot Date Posted:1 December 2021
I began my journey into birth work after our son was born in 2003, though I had attended the births of my friend's babies as a lay support person for many years before my own initiation. Already a massage therapist, I had been using essential oils for a long time, and studied nutrition with a plan to become a naturopath, so herbs have always been of interest to me.
When pregnancy and birth came my way, life went in a different direction and, transformed from my own experience, I trained to be a doula and child birth educator and have stayed in the birth realm ever since. Being a birth & postpartum doula, is an honour. Supporting couples to find their voices and follow their hearts as they prepare to bring their babies earth side, and to guide them through the miracle of birth and witness the beauty and power women exude during labour is incredibly rewarding. It really feels like my true dharma to walk beside women in this way and I truly can't imagine doing anything else, or better, with my time.
Caring for women beyond the birth room led me to study the ancient science of Ayurveda, primarily from the perspective of a postpartum doula. These studies introduced me to some divine practices and rituals and have completely transformed the way I show up to support women in those early weeks after birthing.
In Ayurveda, the woman/mother is highly revered, and much focus and attention is placed on how she flows through her pregnancy, birth and postpartum time.We speak about the 42 days, or six weeks, after birth as being such a crucial time in a birthing person's life and how a mother is cared for or not cared for will influence how she moves through the next 42 years. It's 42 days for 42 years, and this relates to physical ageing, mental health, joint health and mobility etc and this shows up especially when a woman reaches menopause and beyond.
I believe that if women are cared for well after the births of their babies, if they are grounded, nourished and nurtured, and take it slow, and rest in with their babies, they in turn will be grounded in their mothering abilities and can nourish and nurture their children to be happy, grounded beings who can grow to their highest potential. Our children are the future society so we need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want to be creating?
Taking time to honour and acknowledge this 'heroes journey' is pivotal as to how a woman integrates her return from the initiation of labour and birth. In Ayurveda, we talk about the four pillars of postpartum which are rest, nutrition, bodywork and herbs.
The way I weave my offerings using this philosophy of the four pillars is by creating bespoke botanical bath brews made with flowers, buds, barks, roots and powders for the mother to soak, and rest in. I make a variety of spiced milky elixirs to warm her from the inside and get her digestive fire strong after birth.
I make botanical womb oils and massage and wrap her belly over a number of sessions to support her abdominal organs, bones and tissues as they find their way back to their original position and again, keep her warm and feeling supported. Then there's the food - meals suitable for a new mother's digestive system that are also designed to build her internal fire, are warm, well cooked, soupy, blood building and highly nutritious. Everything I do is done with the intention of bringing calm, soothing the nervous system, building strength and creating joy and happiness for her as she navigates the new version of herself with this baby.
Soothing Botanical Bath Brew
Steep all botanicals in 1.5l boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh seive with a muslin cloth or chux to ensure no herb is in the bath brew Add this litre to your bath You can also add milk and honey to make it even more dreamy and whole fresh flowers if you wish. Turn your phone off, close your eyes and enjoy.
Smiling Heart Rose & Saffron Milk
1/2 cup spring water
1/2 cup milk of choice - oat is delicious for this one
1 teaspoon ghee
4 strands saffron
maple syurp or honey to taste
Combine milk, water, ghee, cardamom & ginger in a pot. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Whisk in the rose petal powder and saffron threads, cover and allow to steep for ten minutes, then sweeten if desired.