Pregnancy planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.
There are certain aspects of pregnancy to be considered in a planning:
1. Appropriate Number of children
2. Healthy sperm and ovum
3. Preparation to have proper conception
4. Improving reproductive, maternal & newborn child health
? Appropriate number of children
A woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well being as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy.
Therefore more importance is given to minimum number of child to ensure the maternal and child health. As per W.H.O the required number of children in each family is two.
? Healthy sperm and ovum
Ovum and sperm are the result of the deepest level of nutritional transformation. All that we eat and drink gets continually refined until it is transformed into the most vital essence, the potential of life, known as shukra in Sanskrit. This is the seed of life. They must possess all necessary qualities leading to successful pregnancy.
? Sperm: In ayurveda healthy semen which is more fertile is described as the semen which is grayish white, heavy, sticky, sweet and more in quantity. This fertile semen may have the shades of ghee, honey or oil.”
a. Quantity of Semen
The normal quantity of semen will be 2- 5 ml. Each ml of semen consists of millions of sperms. Semen acts as a vehicle to carry spermatozoa or sperms. The quantity of ejaculated semen will be more when there is a prolonged abstinence. The quantity of semen will be less when there are very frequent ejaculations.
b. Color of Semen
The normal semen is grey or white in color. If the color of semen is yellowish or red or pink, it suggests the presence of some pathology in urinogenital system. Hence men with red or yellowish semen should immediately seek the advice of family physician.
• Semen Clotting and Liquefaction Time
Semen clots immediately after ejaculation. It will liquefy again in 5 – 40 minutes. When semen fails to clot and liquefy subsequently, then it indicates fertility problems.
Tips to Increase Fertility
• Refrain from habits like smoking, alcohol consumption etc
• Keep your mind and body healthy by regular practice of YOGA and MEDITATION
• Exercise regularly
• Maintain a gap of 3 days between two consecutive ejaculations
• Favor sweets, milk and milk products
• Add recipes which contain urad dal (Black gram)
• Add little ghee to your food before consuming
• Avoid bitter, astringent and spicy foods
• Massage body with herbal oil, which improves blood circulation
? Ovum: Fertility decreases with a woman’s age. This is because every woman has millions of eggs or, more specifically, follicles that mature into eggs inside her body when she is born.
By the time she reaches puberty, though, the number of these follicles drops down to about 300,000 to 400,000. During the monthly menstrual cycles, approximately 20 eggs start the journey to maturity but only one or two are finally able to complete this journey and are fit enough to be fertilized. These are the ‘good’ eggs.
Therefore, as woman start aging, the number of eggs inside her body (egg quantity) and the number of good eggs that could have been fertilized (egg quality) keep depleting. Consequently, over time the chance of fertilization also drops.
Egg quality and quantity are together known as the ovarian reserve But, in general, it has been found that the pregnancy rate begins to decline when people reach their the early 30s while the percentage of infertile couples starts increasing as follows:
• By age 30, 7%
• By age 35, 11%
• By age 40, 33%
• And at age 45, 87% of couples are infertile
a) Egg Quality
An egg is said to be of good quality if it has good normal chromosomes and it can easily combine with sperm to develop into an embryo.
In order to fertilize the egg, sperm need to be healthy enough to travel and reach the fallopian tube (and yes, the quality of sperm also goes down as a man ages, the change is just more subtle and gradual).
? Preparation to have proper conception
Ayurveda recommends suitable purificatory measures known as panchakarma procedures for both male and female to ensure healthy child. In Ayurveda it is believed that if there are any obstructions in the body channels then the reproductive system becomes deficient and it is necessary to undergo purificatory measures to re-establish the health of the reproductive tissues.
It includes oleation and fomentation procedures proceeded by Vamana (vomiting), Virechana (purgation). Later the couples are brought to normal food after following suitable diets. Further they are subjected to Asthapana and Anuvasana basti ie decoction enema and oil enema.
Next to these procedures, man is advised to take the foods processed with sweet herbs, milk and ghee. The woman is advised to take the foods processed with black gram and sesame.
Herbs good for fertility – women – Shatavari, men – Ashwagandha, Kapikacchu
Woman after her detoxification of body made to follow the asceticism for the 1st three days of menstruation. On the 4th day of her menstrual cycle she should take proper bath, wear white cloth and have the intercourse with her husband.
The couple to wish for male child can go for intercourse on even days ie on 4th/ 6th/8th day of woman menstrual cycle and for the willing of female child on uneven days like on 5th/7th/9th day of woman menstrual cycle.
There is description of monthly wise diets in Ayurvedic classics to be followed by a pregnant woman:
1. 1ST month – boiled and cooled plain milk frequently
2. 2nd month – milk processed with herbs ( kakoli, sweet herbs etc )
3. 3rd month – milk +honey + ghee
4. 4th month – milk+ butter
5. 5th month- milk +ghee
6. 6th month- milk processed with herbs+ ghee
7. 7th month – same like in 6th month
8. 8th month – gruel+milk+ghee
9. 9th month – Anuvasana basti with oil processed with herbs
Post pregnancy diet should be light to digest, free from fat, rich in nutrients.
? Improving reproductive, maternal & newborn child health
Poor maternal, newborn and child health remains a significant problem in developing countries. Worldwide, 358 000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year and an estimated 7.6 million children die under the age of five. The majority of maternal deaths occur during or immediately after childbirth.
The common medical causes for maternal death include bleeding, high blood pressure, prolonged and obstructed labour, infections and unsafe abortions. A child’s risk of dying is highest during the first 28 days of life when about 40% of under-five deaths take place, translating into three million deaths.
Up to one half of all newborn deaths occur within the first 24 hours of life and 75% occur in the first week. Globally, the main causes of neonatal death are preterm birth, severe infections and asphyxia. Children in low-income countries are nearly 18 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in high-income countries.
Good maternal health and nutrition are important contributors to child survival. Simply meeting the need for family planning with following points could prevent around a third of maternal deaths and a fifth of newborn deaths:
? Girls and women should be given the ability to choose whether and when to have children and how many children to have,
? Make sure pregnancy and child birth are safe. In many low income countries, the poorest people do not have access to health services.
? When people are ill with malaria, tuberculosis, HIV or pneumonia they should be able to get the lifesaving medication they need.
? Access to family planning services, safe childbirth and vaccinations.