What is Garbha Sanskar
Every parent wants the best for their child. A healthy pregnancy is necessary to ensure the baby’s well- being after birth too. Garbh sanskar has gained popularity as an enabler for the mental and physical development of the baby.
The knowledge of garbh sanskar dates back to ancient scriptures and is included in the ayurveda. The word garbh in sanskrit refers to foetus in the womb, and sanskar means education of the mind. So, garbh sanskar translates into the process of educating the mind of unborn baby. It is traditionally believed that a child’s mental and behavioral development starts in the womb as it can be influenced by the mother’s emotional state while she carries the baby. The practice has been a part of hindu tradition since time immemorial and is evidenced by stories of how garbh sanskar had a very positive effect on mythological characters like abhimanyu, astabakra and prahlad who were enlightened in their mother’s womb.
It might sound odd but ask any mother and she is sure to tell you that bonding with the baby starts as soon one conceives. That’s why you see mothers speaking to their baby bump or even making an effort to think good thoughts or do things that soothe the baby. While most pregnant mothers do it as a feel- good factor, it does have more deep rooted benefits too.
There is now a growing baby of scientific evidence that supports the practices related to garbh sanskar and its effect on the unborn child. Modern studies have proved that a foetus can respond to external stimulus. In fact, the hormonal secretions activated by the mother’s thoughts can also impact the baby in her womb.
Thus while garbh sanskar is believed to benefits the baby, it is not focused solely on the child. These practices ensure that the mother is healthy and in a positive state of mind. Activities such as changes in diet and life style are recommended to pregnant women through the practice of garbh sanskar.
When to start Garbh Sanskar while pregnant
Garbh sanskar is not only about the care taken during pregnancy, but about starting preparations at least a year before conception.
Garbh sanskar covers pre- pregnancy, pregnancy as well as the breastfeeding phase, guiding parents until the child is about 2 years old.
Different prenatal education practices
References to garbh sanskar can be found in ancient Hindu Puranas and the Vedas. But the practice is not limited to India alone. Different cultures around the world encourage nurturing the bond between the mother and the growing baby, which is similar to the concept of ‘education in the womb’. Mothers in western countries often listen to classical music like that of maestros like mozart to make their child ‘unbelievably smart’.
The wisdom of garbh sanskar can be accessed from the fact that several modern prenatal practices are derived from it. These include:
- Autosuggestion and hypnosis: These are meditation techniques which occupy the mind with an idea that can turn into reality.
- Colour therapy: This includes the use of light and colour to balance the mind. Certain colours can uplift the mood and have a positive effect on the mind.
- Aromatherapy: This uses the senses of smell that sharpens the senses, and soothes the body and mind. Essential oils and other aromatics may be used to help the mother de- stress.
List of Garbh Sanskar activities for pregnant women
According to Ayurved, Garbh Sanskar is one of the best ways to give birth to a healthy baby. It’s all about the mother maintaining a sound state of mind, not only mentally, but physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Ayurvedic garbh sanskar suggests certain guidelines to keep in mind for the pregnant mother. These include:
Healthy eating habitsThe dietary regime is an essential aspect of pregnancy, as the growth of foetus depends upon the health and nutrition of the mother. According to ayurved the ahara- rasa, which is nutrition or energy obtained from the mother’s diet, helps in nourishment of the mother herself, the growth of baby and preparation for formation of breast milk. A balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals is recommended to this end. The garbh sanskar foods in pregnancy should have a balanced amount of calcium, folic acid and iron.
Garbh sanskar food in pregnancy includes sattvik food which refers to freshly prepared nutrient- rich food that includes all five tastes, namely, sweet, salty, pungent, bitter and sour. Ayurved recommends the consumption of panchamrut, which is beneficial for boosting potency and immunity. This is made with one spoon curd, honey, sugar and two spoon of ghee or clarified butter mixed with eight spoon of milk. Abstinence from addictive substances is advised.
Positive thinkingPregnancy can make you moody and irritable. Garbh sanskar helps you manage your emotion which is good, both for the mother and the baby. You could cultivate a hobby or just do things that make you happy.
Practicing yoga or some form of light exerciseGarbh sanskar recommends that pregnant women take up some light form of exercise or yoga for the physical well- being of both the mother and the child. Here are the benefits of exercise:
- Pranayama breathing exercises help to calm and relax the body while preparing you for breath- control during child birth.
- Light exercise increase flexibility, improves blood circulation and reduces backaches during pregnancy.
- Specific garbh sanskar yoga asanas boost the mother’s chances of having a full term normal delivery with minimal labour pain.
MeditationMeditation is an important aspect of garbh sanskar and is beneficial for the body as it de- stresses the mind. It involves getting into ‘zero state of mind’, which can help bring peace and tranquility, and enhance concentration. Visualizing good things about the baby while you meditate is also a great way to bond and think positively, which can help both you and baby.
PrayerPraying is an important part of garbh sanskar, and is believed to be good for spiritual development of the baby. Ancient scriptures contain mantras and shlokas which are beneficial for unborn babies. The prayers that are chanted bless the baby with good health and moral values and are an essential part of spiritual beliefs.
Listening to music which brings peace to mindGarbh sanskar states that a baby can respond to music while in mother’s womb. In fact, ancient literature says that a baby starts hearing and responding to its surroundings from fourth month of pregnancy. This is why the mother should listen to melodious music which clams her. Soft and spiritual songs or mantras and shlokas are said to be beneficial for both the mother and the child.
Reading calming or spiritual booksGarbh sanskar recommends reading spiritual books, which brings about a feeling of contentment and satisfaction. In fact, garbh sanskar also stresses on the fact that reading educational books shapes the personality of the child in the womb. It is believed that reading when pregnant can help pass on the wisdom to the unborn child. Books with moral values or mythological stories are recommended, but you can always choose another book you enjoy reading.
Keeping the mind relaxed and happyAs per garbh sanskar, the mother should not indulge in activities or practices which stress her out. Taking undue stress or watching or reading things which scare or worry you are not recommended during pregnancy as there they trigger the release of hormones which may have an adverse effect on the foetus. Try and be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually contented during the nine months for the sake of your baby.
Consuming herbal ghee during pregnancyMedicated ghee made from cow’s milk ghee is recommended during the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th month of pregnancy by ayurved. It is said to be beneficial for the mental and physical development of the baby and can help prevent congenital abnormalities in the foetus. According to ayurved, medicated ghee might also help the mother have a full- term normal delivery. However, do consult your doctor as every pregnancy is not the same.
Channel your creativityBeing creative during pregnancy not only keeps your mind occupied, but as per garbh sanskar, creativity can be passed on to your baby as well. Hobbies like knitting, painting, gardening or even pottery can help in busting stress and keep you happy.
Benefits of garbh sanskar during pregnancy
It is up to the mother to shape up the first impressions of the baby. Positive thinking and a positive attitude can go a long way in ensuring the mental and physical well- being of the mother, which is linked to well- being of the baby inside her womb as well. Garbh sanskar helps develop that eternal bond between the mother and her unborn child.
While experts encourage practicing garbh sanskar for the well being of the mother, there are also long- term benefits for the baby that might not immediately be recognized. Communication with the baby is ‘garbh sanwaad’ that contributes to the mental growth of the baby and helps to build a strong bond with the mother.
Listening to music and reading to the unborn child can later help make your baby a sound sleeper or induce better sleeping habits. Your baby might become more alert, aware and confident. The baby might also respond to stimulus better and be more active and content. The mother- baby bonding also benefits as your baby might even begin breastfeeding in better way.
How garbh sanskar music helps your child
Since it is believed that a foetus can respond to external stimuli, especially from the seventh month onwards, the therapeutic effect of music can play an essential role according to garbh sanskar. The nearest sound for the baby is the mother’s heartbeat, and that is why it is believed that crying baby can be soothed by holding him or her close to the chest. As the child hears something familiar, it can bring about a sense of calmness. The same logic applies to music, and much like the rhythm of a beating heart, the rhythm of music has a calming effect on a baby too.
Garbh sanskar believes that the sound of the veena, a string instrument, and the flute, have sounds which can soothe the mind and the soul.
Garbh sanskar finds its roots in ancient practices. It focuses on the well- being of the mother and the healthy development of the child. But more than this, garbh sanskar focuses on fostering an everlasting bond between the mother and the child. A healthy diet, positive thoughts, regular exercise and a loving bond, are the components of garbh sanskar. Practice the simple tenets of garbh sanskar and experience the peace they offer.