Written by Ysha Oakes.

Birth is so empowering and life changing. I’m deeply grateful Mother Nature and my husband made me a mother, in spite of the fatigue, loss of sleep, mush mind, health issues and colic that developed for I don’t even remember how long. That was before I used an AyuDoula.

I loved my baby. I loved being able to give birth naturally in spite of the hospital mismanagements and my foolish idea I should walk right after birth. I loved nursing even though I had no idea how to burp my baby at first. I nursed him for two and a half years.

In addition to the side benefits of no more cold hands and feet, I felt like I had been initiated into the family of humankind. My emotions were more true and available. I even discovered how to get my twice daily meditations in – with him falling asleep in my arms. That was probably my saving grace – the deep transcendental dive that was so integrating for all other layers of my being, even when much of the time I was what we call “sleepitating”.

But more than sometimes he didn’t sleep when he needed to and was unhappy, uncomfortable and inconsolable. We had to do crazy things like walk him in our coastal fog, or take him for a drive at all hours in the car, hoping he would stay asleep once we got home.

I got really good at sliding the complex “Snuggly” off and keeping him asleep. But I still spent lots of time in the rocking chair with lots of tummy issues for us both and my nipples cracked and bleeding. I got lucky and learned about good old fashioned sunshine-delivered Vitamin D and they healed. I blamed myself for his discomfort though, figuring I was just not loving or tuned in enough. I spent the time I needed for self care with extra baby care needs. I did get sick. It was all a mixed bag.  It’s probably a familiar story.

I didn’t have enough presence of mind or knowledge of what help to ask for. My mind was mushy and my health funky for about two and a half years. My transverse colon fascia didn’t hold when I walked down the hall a few minutes after his birth. That part of my colon suddenly fell 3-4 inches, and stayed mal-positioned adding to other constipation factors for many years.

The Sacred Window + The Role Of An AyuDoula

My husband didn’t understand my fragile condition (neither did I) and expected me to be a housewife like I always was. I decided and accepted this was part of the price of having babies which no-one wanted to tell me about. I know that for most mamas, along with the blessings of motherhood, lots of aging begins during this sacred window.

Ayurvedics and an AyuDoula know the word “kavaigunya” or weak area, where the doshas or elemental imbalances will be easily able to settle in and accumulate. We have multiple kavaigunyas after childbirth, which can affect us for many years to come if not addressed early on. Fortunately, Ayurveda also has multiple ways, better than any other system of medicine indigenous, alternative or allopathic, to reverse these things. Advanced practitioners are hereby on the alert to take a good history and understand these things can go deep at this very open time.

Okay. That birth story was 41 years ago. Looking back, I can see some help would have made a different life for us all. Even if I just had some understanding, given our low budget at the time — some wise-woman guidance, even something to listen to or read. I would gladly have worn a belly wrap, protecting my abdominal organ position, function, and posture. I would have used the handbook and cookbook so religiously (which is often the way for first-time mamas!). And I would have made the simple, inexpensive herbal teas for his comfort and mine – tummy, mood and rejuvenation. Avoiding salad and pinto beans alone would have made a big difference on our comfort!

Insights for diet and lifestyle nourish hormones, mind and mood, and my relationship with my husband would have been so much better if we both had understood my short term needs (those first 6 weeks) – as you will learn in part II, for years to come.

So this is hindsight, like I said, with acceptance and gratitude for what was, and why I finally began to ask for help with my second and third babies. That was the mid 1970s. I was called to the AyuDoula work for myself as a mother, and then as a profession, after my third live birth in 1987. Ayurvedic postnatal care began to shine its gifts on the west thanks to the blessings of an enlightened monk, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, when two of his student’s (medical doctors, running the Ayurvedic clinic at the time) were both expecting their first babies. (Ok, their wives were expecting). The thrill that ran through the grapevine as mothers began to experience it was full of a bright light of right-for-so-many. I knew I wanted it.

That’s just part 1 of why I’ve dedicated my life to this work. With AyuDoula Level I or the Baby’s Best Beginnings program, I could have done a lot for myself, and I know we would have managed somehow to get a little direct guidance or hands on help. We would have known how to ask our community for help. I would have known how to prevent and reverse the colic – that is big! And I would have a much brighter consciousness and more loving support for my husband those years. He needed it too, and his health and patience wore thin. That too is very big.

Our lives would have been so different – whether this guidance and help had came from an AyuDoula, girlfriend, or doctor. Yes, there is karma. And there is choice on what level we experience it. The healing and health care profession is dedicated to helping our safe experience and opportunity to live and grow in love and good health. All the while we pay off our karmas and blossom on our paths to self realization.

Ysha (Martha) Oakes
Sacred Window School Founding Faculty, AyuDoula, LMT, Author

Ysha first heard whispers of Ayurveda for mama and baby with her daughter’s pregnancy, 35 years ago. All 3 of her children were birthed naturally, but with the third she experienced the difference 6 weeks of Ayurvedic postpartum care can make. Trained in 1991 as a Maharishi Mother and Baby Care Technician, in 1995 she founded the Postpartum AyurDoula training at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda. After 20 years of AyuDoula care and massage work, Ysha formed Sacred Window School in 2010 and began offering online and hands-on trainings for beginning to postgraduate Ayurvedic students. Ysha was author of the e-book set, Touching Heaven, Tonic Postpartum Care/Recipes with Ayurveda and numerous blogs and articles, presented at NAMA (Ayurveda) and MANA (midwives’) national conferences, and was a guiding light to many in this field. Sadly, Ysha passed away suddenly on May 25, 2015. Her work continues lovingly through the rest of her team and her students.