Garbh Sanskar in Pregnancy: Benefits and Practices
October 30, 2021
Day by day, there is growing evidence that validates the practices related to garbh sanskar and their hugely positive effect on the unborn child. Doctors have established that the foetus not only perceives but also responds to external stimuli.
Something as small as a mother’s fleeting thought can affect the baby: a good thought promotes secretion of a ‘happy hormone’ and an anxious thought, that of ‘stress-hormones’. These constantly reach the baby.
What is Garbh Sanskar?
Garbh means womb and sanskar means teaching good things or instilling good values. So Garbh Sanskar means educating an unborn child.
Garbh Sanskar is the practice of a few simple activities that contribute towards social, physical , spiritual, mental well-being of both mother and child. With the benefit of scientific research, it is well-proven now that the baby, when in the womb, has infinite capacity to grow his or her mind and senses if the right external stimulation is given. The baby is not an ‘object’ lying in the womb but a smart, and receptive human-in-development.
The right stimulation from the external world, mainly by the mother, can make a huge development in its mental growth.
सत्त्ववैशेष्यकराणि पुनस्तेषां तेषां
श्रुतयश्चाभीक्ष्णं स्वोचितं च कर्म
Acharya Charaka says that the foetus’ mind is connected with the parents’ mind, especially with the mother during pregnancy.
How does the pregnant woman connect to her baby using Garbh Sanskar?
Let’s say you watched a webshow today that was full of murders and violence. Did you know that the thoughts it generated in you reached the baby promptly? The opposite works in Garbh Sanskar practice.
Garbh Sanskar tells us that listening to harmonizing music or reading good text reaches positive qualities or “Satwa Guna” to the baby. He is affected by the mother’s good thoughts, her listening to pleasant music and her reading stories of good deeds.
Mothers have immense powers, second only to God, to create certain qualities in us. Yes, women have the power of designing the human mind in the womb itself. The only time a human’s DNA can be changed is in the womb and mothers play the all-important role.
There is scientific evidence which proves that a baby in the womb can respond to external stimuli that impinge on mum. If she is not happy or is struggling with stress, fear or anxiety during pregnancy it creates negative pressure on the baby’s nervous system.
In a nutshell, the connection is like a ‘Mental’ Umbilical Cord
What are Garbh Sanskar activities for a pregnant woman?
Garbh Sanskar advises that a pregnant woman should be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually healthy. With some lifestyle changes, transforming mind and body is possible. The iMumz App has taken this as the cornerstone of all its sections. The 6 golden rules for Garbh Sanskar are:
Relaxing with calming music : Initially, the baby isn’t able to hear, but don’t estimate his ability to take the benefits from your good hormones that are released with calming music. Classical music, gentle sounds like lullabies, nice melodies that inspire happiness are all excellent ideas. In the third trimester, the baby is hearing, so it becomes all the more important to choose good music.Ragas like Malkauns, Shaant, Bageshwari, Yaman and Bhairav are also considered to be very good for a child's growth. Download the iMumz App for pregnancy music.
Pregnancy meditation : With the pressures of pregnancy, unwanted advice and managing day to day stress, it is possible that your mind fills with angry, irritable thoughts. They are very harmful for the baby: it can cause intrauterine infections, low birth weight and premature labour. Pre-term babies are prone to a range of complications later, including chronic lung disease, developmental delays, learning disorders and infant mortality. There's even compelling evidence from epidemiological studies and animal research that babies who experience stress in utero are more likely to develop chronic health problems as adults, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Regular meditation helps in a BIG WAY. Check the amazing meditation activities on the iMumz App.
Pregnancy yoga : While yoga is awesome in preparing your body for delivery and soothing pregnancy aches and pains, its benefits extend to your unborn baby, too. Yoga asanas improve blood circulation and oxygenation which eases your stress. The baby gets the good hormones! Get them from the Yoga section on the iMumz App.
A healthy pregnancy diet:
रसाः स्वाद्वम्ललवणतिक्तोष्णकषायकाः षड् द्रव्यमाश्रितास्ते च यथापूर्वं बलावहाः।
The practice of Garbh Sanskar advocates a balanced diet in which all the nutrients are present, the food is freshly-prepared and it is ‘Satvik’ and includes all six rasas ( tastes), namely,
1. Madhura (sweet)
2. Amla (sour)
3. Lavana (salty)
The above said shad rasatmak ahar maintains the equilibrium of the tridoshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and the pancha mahabhutas (prithvi, aap, tej, vayu, aakash)
For Pregnancy Diet and Recipes, click here to download the iMumz App now.
Creative pursuits and hobbies : Doing something creative, like making pots out of clay or painting bottles focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural antidepressant.
Communicating with your unborn child :
तत्र पूर्वं चेतनाधातुः सत्वकरणो गुणग्रहणाय प्रवर्तते ।
Ayurveda says unborn baby is associated with manas right from the conception. He or she can understand the emotions and feelings behind the thoughts of the mother. So the mother can start communicating with the child as early as from the first month itself.
The unborn baby can hear from week 20 onwards. By week 25, the auditory system is completely functional. So, by the 5th month of pregnancy, your baby can hear your voice and may even respond to increased movements. So talking, singing or reading to the baby in your womb can help in the baby’s brain development.
All the above Garbh sanskar practices help with creating a harmonious atmosphere in your womb for the baby to grow. These practices also keep the mother healthy, physically and mentally and make the pregnancy a memorable experience.
For ‘Talk to the Baby’ activities, click here to download the iMumz App now.
What kind of pregnancy music is recommended in Garbh sanskar?
Your unborn baby can hear and respond to sounds from the seventh month onwards. So if you're listening to music, it's likely that she will be able to hear it too. Some experts believe that listening to music will stimulate your baby's brain development as well as develop her sense of hearing. As per studies, babies in the womb have shown increased brain activity when exposed to music. Some studies found that the ‘memory’ of music played to babies while they were still in the womb lasted after birth.These memories created before they were born, lasted until they were four months old. And even more importantly, some research suggests that gentle, classical music may encourage premature babies to feed, and could improve their vital signs like heart rate and O2 saturation levels
It could be the sound of the veena, gentle notes of the flute, classical notes of the sitar, or the violin. Listening to your holy scriptures, and chants have proven benefits, too. According to research, classical music triggered the greatest level of foetal reaction (tongue and mouth movement) at 84%, followed by local, traditional music at 79%.
A group of pregnant women were encouraged to listen to 20 minutes of Carnatic music everyday. After 20 days, researchers noted advancements in the babies’ reaction times and mobility.
It could be the Gayatri Mantra in calming raags like raag Yaman and raag Bhairav or a vocal rendition in Raags Bageshri or Bilawal, or a hymn that is family tradition.
The right music options are available on the iMumz App. Click here to download.
In which month should the pregnant woman start Garbh Sanskar?According to the experts, 'Garbh Sanskar' practices should be started three months before conception. Satvik food and Naadi Shuddhi will cleanse and purify your body for a healthy conception.
As soon as you get the good news of pregnancy, remember that there is gene environment interaction happening, right away. Your psychological, physiological and genetic environment is impacting the tiny embryo. It’s time to make a schedule of activities to follow Garbh Sanskar practices immediately!
As the iMumz App says, just 20 minutes a day is what is needed. That is, if you know what you should do in which week. Download the App for guidance.
What is the impact of Garbh Sanskar?
How does the pregnant woman shape her baby’s traits? Well, the baby’s brain grows faster during the nine months in the womb than ever. A huge number of neural connections and nerve cells are growing every second inside the womb.
Everything that the mother thinks and feels is communicated through the four neurohormones or neuropeptides to the unborn child.
The four neuropeptides -- serotonin, enkephalins, endorphins and adrenaline -- are the chemicals produced in response to emotions. Happy neuropeptides create a state of happiness in mum’s body and Sad neuropeptides create a state of depression or low feeling.
Serotonin reduces depression and creates the feeling of happiness and joy.
Enkephalins give the feeling of content and satisfaction and the sad neuropeptides which are cortisol and adrenaline create stress and depressive feeling.
Scientific studies have shown that Garbh Sanskar practices increase the happy neuropeptides. Or, simply put, the happy hormones!
Doesn’t the placenta filter out the bad hormones? Read on to find out.
The placenta nourishes the baby and it’s health determines the lifespan of your child and it’s health and wellness is totally dependent on two factors: nutrition and hormonal composition.
The good news is that the placenta has a great filtering mechanism. How this filter works is that it produces an enzyme which de-activates the stress hormones or harmful hormones before they get into foetal circulation.
But this mechanism works only when the stress levels are low like fleeting concerns, anxiety, excitement or a brief moment of irritation.
When the stress levels are very high or chronic this nature’s filter stops working. The guardian enzymes are no longer being secreted. Like the fort has been breached by strong soldiers who are now entering freely, destroying everything in their path.
A stressed or unhappy mum-to-be secretes hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that flood the baby with sad neuropeptide.
These neuropeptides barge in through the placenta and enter the foetal circulation and reach up to the limbic system of the baby's brain which leads to the lower electrical activities in the areas of joy, happiness and curiosity which makes your baby feel lonely and sad.
And if this continues for a longer time your child may have a timid personality with low self-esteem and low self-confidence as an enduring trait. So it is very crucial for the mums-to-be to have a positive mindset and be in a happy state!
Does Garbh Sanskar really work?
The relationship between the pregnant woman and her unborn baby has fascinated researchers for decades.
70% to 80% of pregnant women experience either prolonged depression or a phase of baby-blues. It is important to note that a pregnant woman’s sleep patterns, ability to perform daily tasks and quality of life get affected by systemic variations caused by hormonal, emotional, mental, and physical factors.
Sleep deprivation leads to decrease in function of the immune system, hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal gland. Even as the pregnant woman copes with this state of exhaustion and distress, fears related to the upcoming childbirth, the waning joint-family support and urban stressors add to her anxieties.
Bowlby, in a study, found that if the pregnant woman does not connect with her unborn baby, there can be irreversible mental health consequences on the child.
The pregnant woman’s state of mind affects the development of the unborn baby’s cognitive and noncognitive skills: when she is calm and at peace, the baby reaps significant benefits. She experiences higher self-esteem and sense of personal control. The opposite leads to increased incidences of uterine growth retardation, preterm labor, prolonged labor, foetal heart rate decline, low birth weight, increased cesarean section, postnatal neurobehavioral problems, and developmental disorder.
A study based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children indicated that mother’s anxiety during pregnancy predicted persistently higher behavioral and emotional symptoms across childhood with no decrease of effect into adolescence. It was associated with a twofold increase in risk of a probable mental disorder in her child.
On the converse, a good maternal environment facilitates brain development. Garbh Sanskar practices promote maternal wellness in a very effective manner.
Baby’s Brain Development
In the 3rd week of pregnancy, rapidly multiplying cells form the ‘neural plate’. This structure eventually folds in on itself to become the neural tube, which later gives rise to the forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain, and spinal cord. As early as five weeks after conception, neurons — the information-processing cells that pass signals throughout the central nervous system — begin to form, divide, and multiply.
The 2nd trimester is hugely significant since 250,000 neurons are created every minute. The neurons begin to migrate to different regions of your developing baby’s brain, where they take on specific roles, such as interpreting sounds and storing memories, and form connections with other neurons - leading up to the sixth month of pregnancy. Meditation, communicating with baby and narrating good, virtuous stories has amazing benefits.
During this time of heightened baby brain development, the cerebral cortex — the area associated with the brain’s higher functions, such as language and abstract thought — grows more rapidly than the brain’s other structures. By the seventh month of your pregnancy, it houses 70 percent of the neurons in your baby’s brain.
By the eighth month, the auditory cortex, the visual cortex, and Broca’s area (a region of the brain associated with producing speech) begin to function, giving your developing baby a primitive ability to interpret sights and sounds and to distinguish language -- the beginnings of cognitive development.
You can aid every step of this phenomenal brain development by sending the right hormones to it and stimulation through communication.
Stress hormones activate the baby’s endocrine system by altering the distribution of blood flow. This changes the basic character of the child's physiology.
Such babies are likely to be hyperactive, born prematurely, have low birth-weight and are irritable.
On the contrary, when a mum-to-be is happy, peaceful, joyful and relaxed, her body secretes the happy chemicals called endorphins or enkephalins. They fill the baby with happiness leading to a long-term personality of serenity, calmness, and positive esteem.
We, at iMumz, base all our programs and interventions on these studies and dream of a world full of happy and healthy mums! And, intelligent and calm babies. Our week-by-week pregnancy updates, our diets and recipes, specific music and meditation are all based on the pillars of Garbh Sanskar.