Women want to do a good job when they are trying to conceive. They start looking at prenatal vitamins, drinking lots of water and figuring out which foods they should eat to increase their fertility. It can be frustrating for a woman to see everyone else around her getting pregnant from trying a specific practice without it working for her. So, why do our efforts not always pay off the way we want them to?
Preparing your body for conception is really not that different from planting a garden.– Heather Grzych, The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility
Your body is like a plant. It has very unique requirements that will allow it to thrive in certain environments, possibly in environments that others will not thrive in. Your real job in trying to conceive is to figure out what kind of plant you are and make the necessary adjustments in your life to allow your roots, leaves, flowers and fruits to be as healthy as possible. And likely, what works for you will not be what worked for the woman next to you. So, how do you figure out just what kind of plant you are?
Ayurveda helps you care for your unique body type
Ayurveda is an ancient traditional medicine and self-care system from India, and it is often referred to as the “mother of all medicines”. You may have heard about it in wellness publications such as Goop, Vogue, or Mind Body Green. Ayurvedic medicine uses foods, herbs, yoga and cleansing to balance both mind and body. It also has a whole branch solely dedicated to female reproductive health and caring for babies and kids.
Ayurveda teaches that there are three main doshas, or body type imbalances, which are: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata bodies are quick-moving, subtle, more sleepless, dry, rough and have little temperature regulation, so they get hot quickly, cold quickly and their periods can get very irregular. Pitta bodies are persuasive, oily, sharp, intense, get hot and red easily and can have very heavy or frequent periods. Kapha bodies are slow-moving, robust, dense, high-mucus, feel heavy at times, need a little kick in the pants and have periods that can be consistently a little slow. Understanding your body type helps you understand how to optimize fertility in Ayurveda.
Vata body types
If you have a vata body, then you can balance it with foods that are moist, dense, warm, sweet, salty, sour and oily. However, since the digestive enzymes tend to be on the lower side in a vata body, then you can’t eat big portions, or you won’t digest the food well, and that will create a bunch of metabolic health issues that can interfere with fertility.
Pitta body types
If you have a pitta body, the foods that will generally be helpful are cooling, dense sweet, bitter and cloudy. Pitta bodies are more reactive, so the food needs to be something gentle and pleasing, rather than rough, spicy, salty, or sour. When a pitta body does not eat according to the actual enzymes available, causing food to be improperly digested, the body will have a bigger reaction, try to kick the food out, and create an inflammatory response.
Kapha body types
If you have a kapha body, you can balance it with dry, light, bitter and spicy foods – and actually, kapha bodies don’t typically need as much food as the other body types because their cells don’t turn over as quickly (which also means they don’t age as quickly). Kapha bodies benefit by not eating as frequently, so that when they do eat, it is metabolized properly and doesn’t create a bunch of extra, unwanted tissue or toxicity in the body that can start to block the reproductive channels.
It’s really important for you to understand your unique body type if you are trying to conceive. Each type will even assimilate prenatal vitamins differently, so by learning to tailor your own diet to your type before conception, then your vitamins will also be assimilated more optimally and you will have a body that is receptive to becoming pregnant. This is part of understanding Ayurveda’s Four Fertility Factors.
It is very handy to understand the different body types before and after becoming a mother because it is also true that no two babies are alike. Once you understand what you need – and also recognize that others may need something different – you will be able to adapt more easily, maintain your own health, and contribute to the health of those you love most. And perhaps the best part is that this individualized approach to health will stay with you throughout your pregnancy, and even long after you have a baby.
Heather Grzych is the author of The Ayurvedic Guide to Fertility. A board-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, she bridges the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine to help women and men heal their physical and emotional lives. Heather is on the board of directors for the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and has consulted with doctors, governments, and insurance companies. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at www.heathergrzych.com.