Factors That Harm Fetus, Avoidable Food And Habits In Pregnancy

By Dr Raghuram Y. S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B. A. M. S

Some precautions need to be taken with respect to diet and life activities all through period of pregnancy. This helps to avoid complications and enable easy delivery of child at term. Caution at food and lifestyle activities will contribute towards well being of both mother and child and also will maintain pregnancy in a safe and healthy way.


Garbhopaghatakara Bhavas = Garbha + Upaghatakara + Bhavas
Garbha = fetus
Upaghata kara = which tend to harm or destroy
Bhavas = factors

‘Garbhopaghatakara Bhavas’ = factors which tend to harm fetus
Read – Herbs Useful For Maintenance Of Pregnancy

Food contra-indications

  • Sarvam ati guru ushna teekshna ruksham annapanam – excessive use of all types of food which are excessively hard to digest, intense and dry in nature shall be rejected hot and pungent substances
  • Vishtambhi ahara – hard to digest foods, constipating foods
  • Ati tarpanam – excessive satiation by consumption of satiating foods and activities
  • Shushkam paryushitam kuthitam klinnam cha annam na upabhunjeeta – she should not eat dried up, stale, putrified or wet (moistened) food
  • Na mamsam ashneeyaat / Amisham – excessive consumption of meat
  • Ajirna – indigestion of food
  • Upavasa – fasting
  • Vidahi anna – foods and edibles which produce burning sensation in the abdomen
  • Amlani – sour foods
  • Kadannam – polluted food
  • Vishamashanam – incompatible foods

Read – 15 Precautions And Benefits Of Massage In Pregnancy

Consumption in excess of –

  • Shetodaka – cold water
  • Lashuna – garlic
  • Dwidalani – pulses
  • Ushna ksheera – hot milk
  • Mruttika – clay, mud
  • Surana kanda – corm
  • Palandu – onion
  • Khatodakam – drinking rain water

Read – Benefits And Usage of Water As per Ayurveda: Complete Compilation

Avoidable lifestyle

Contraindications related to lifestyle activities and mode of living

  • Vyavaaya – excessive indulgence in coitus
  • Vyaayama – excessive exercise
  • Diwaswapnam – excessive sleeping in day time
  • Ratri jagarana – excessive awakening during night time
  • Akala jagara – untimely awakening
  • Akala swapna – untimely sleeping
  • Daruna chestah – indulgence in violent or harsh activities and all types of abnormal activities which are beyond her capacity
  • Adhwa / Chankramanam – excessive walking
  • Na yaanam adhirohet (Yanavarohana) – should not ride vehicles / animals or run over uneven pathways
  • Utkataka (utkutuka) vishama kathina asanam – squatting or posture of sitting on the hams with soles of feet touching the ground or other abnormal postures and hard seating
  • Na cha aayaset shareeram – she should not fatigue herself
  • Na mrudvastaranam kuryat na ati uchcham shayanasanam – sitting or sleeping in very soft and high place
  • Uttana shayanam – sleeping in supine position
  • Bhartuh shayyaam – sleeping on husband’s bed
  • Guru praavaranam – covering herself with heavy sheets
  • Abhighata – trauma
  • Bharam – carrying excessive weights
  • Na gurum dharayet chiram – she should not carry heavy weights for long time
  • Atimatra sankshobhi yanayaana – riding in carriages or on animals which cause excessive jerking
  • Shwabhra kupa prapata – falling into the pits or wells
  • Atapa – excessive exposure to heat of the Sun
  • Agni – excessive exposure to the heat of fire

Visiting –

  • Nadi teeram – going to river bank
  • Devakha – going to temple or garden
  • Bahir nishkramanam – outing, roaming outside 
  • Shunyagara – visiting lonely places
  • Chaitya – going near haunted tree
  • Smashana – going to cremation ground
  • Vrukshashraya – staying in shade of tree

Bad habits

Contraindications related to habits

  • Na madakaraani madhyaani abhyaharet – should not use intoxicating substances and wine or any other alcoholic preparations
  • Vegadharana – withholding the body’s natural urges
  • Upavasa – excessive fasting
  • Madhyam – consuming alcohol, wine
  • Na eva unnataa na pranataa – she should not remain for long in erect or flexed posture
  • Udvejanam hasyam sanghaatam varjayet – she should avoid tremering, excessive laughing and trauma

Mental, verbal discipline

Contraindications related to mind, speech and senses

  • Sarva indriya pratikoolaam cha bhaavaan parivarjayet – she should give up all things which are contrary to her indriyas i.e. sense organs and also should avoid other harmful articles
  • Yat cha anyadapi kinchit striyo vidhyuh – she should also keep away the things which are instructed to do so by old ladies
  • Shokam / Shosham – grief
  • Bhaya – fear
  • Krodha / rosham – anger
  • Utrasa – terror
  • Udwega – excitement
  • Udwejaneeya kathaah pariharet – should keep away from hearing or reading exciting stories
  • Krodha bhaya shaskaraam cha – getting indulged in acts leading to anger and disgrace
  • Uchchaih bhaashyaadikam – talking in high pitch
  • Apriya avalokana shravanadayah – looking or hearing about disliked things
  • Shraddha vidharanam – suppression of urges and desires
  • Durgandha durdarshanani pariharet – she should keep away from foul smelling and awful looking substances
  • Mruta apatyaam – association with woman whose child has died

Read – Bad Food Combinations And Solution As Per Ayurveda

Treatment contra-indications

Contraindications related to treatments and medicines 

  • Ati karshanam – getting excessively emaciated by emaciating measures
  • Akala snehadi kriyam, shonita mokshanam, vegavidharanam – untimely use of snehana (oleation), bloodletting and suppression of natural body urges
  • Rakta shruti shuddhim vastimbloodletting, cleansing treatments, enemas up to eight months
  • Na cha taila abhyanga utsaadanaadeeni nisheveta – she should avoid repeated excessive oil massages and unguents
  • Teekshna aushadha – use of pungent substances
  • Swedana – sudation
  • Vamana – emesis
  • Kshara – alkalies

Conduct, ritual contra-indications

Contraindications related to beliefs, conducts, rituals and cosmic influence

  • Ksheeyamanam cha shashim – she should not look at the declining moon
  • Astam yaantam cha bhaskaram – she should not look at the setting sun
  • Ubhau rahu darshane – should not see the Rahu and Ketu
  • Soma arka sangrahau (activities during eclipses) – knowing about solar and lunar eclipse, the pregnant woman should go into the middle of the house and perform religious rites and offer oblations to free the planets from the clutches of the grahas.
  • Na dwishyat atithim – she should not insult, ignore, disrespect or hate the guests
  • Bhiksham dadhyat – she should give alms to the beggars instead of turning them out
  • Swayam prajwalite cha agnau shaantyartham juhuyaad ghrutam – she should perform oblation with ghee in burning fire (lit by her) for pacification
  • Na kinchit pratirudhniyaat – She should not oppose full ewer, ghee, garland and pot filled with ghee or curds
  • Na raktaani vaasaamsi / Rakta nivaasanam – She should not wear red garments for protection from the effect of gods, demons and their followers

Miscellaneous contraindications

  • Shwabhra kupeksham – peeping into pit or well
  • Malina vikruta heena gaatrani – She should not touch dirty or disfigured persons possessing deficit body parts
  • Na badneeta garbhini, sootrena tanunaa rajjvaa stambhanam bandhanaani – she should not tie anything from thread or thin rope and loosen all bonds over her
  • Bandhani mokshayet – she should free herself from all bonds or wear very loose garments

Read – Lifestyle Tips For Healthy People And Patients In Ayurveda


Analysis of contraindications during pregnancy and fetus-harming factors explained by various authors

Contraindications mentioned for pregnant woman during pregnancy and factors which could harm fetus when consumed can be categorized into below mentioned headings –

Factors producing psychological or physical strain – includes causes like excessive grief, exercise, coitus etc. Generally exercise and coitus are beneficial in normal terms. However excessive indulgence in these activities or psychological trauma may precipitate abortion. This is more common in woman who had already experienced abortion i. e. habitual for abortion.
Read – Bleeding During Pregnancy: Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment

Factors which cause sudden shock – visit to cremation ground, lonely places etc cause sudden shock. This shock may cause many abnormalities in fetus. It can even cause abortion. Therefore they should be avoided.

Factors which cause sudden increase in intra-abdominal pressure – factors like carrying excessive weights, riding vehicles and animals etc may precipitate abortion by causing increase in intra-abdominal pressure. Prolonged squatting in abnormal postures and supine position may influence placental and uterine blood flow due to pressure of gravid uterus on iliac blood vessels. This may cause abortion, intra-uterine death of fetus or other abnormalities and complications.
Read – Essential Elements For Conception – Garbha Sambhava Samagri

Difference of opinion regarding dietetic regulations and contraindications – diet is an important factor during pregnancy. It is important for maintenance of her health and also for proper nourishment and growth of fetus. There is contraindication for use of meat in many treatises. But Sushruta has advised use of meat of wild animals in 4th and 5th months of pregnancy. From this we can infer that contraindication is for use of other forms of meat like meat of aquatic animals, animals living in marshy lands etc. Similarly, wine in small quantities is not harmful, when taken in large quantities it may harm fetus. It is very difficult to explain logic behind contraindications for use of pulses, garlic and onion etc. We can infer that excessive use of these foods may cause digestion related abnormalities.
Read – Diet And Lifestyle For Women In Ayurveda

Effect of over satiation excessive satiation or over-nourishment may excessively increase body weight of mother and fetus. Over eating is one of causes of pregnancy toxemia. Over weight of fetus may cause difficulty in labour.
Read – How Much Food To Eat Per Day As Per Ayurveda?

Effect of abnormal raysspecific rays emitted during solar and lunar eclipse may produce harm to fetus and pregnant woman and cause many fetal anomalies and complications.

Effect of purifying treatmentstreatments given to purify body including emesis etc can also precipitate abortion and harm fetus and mother. This can happen due to effect of reflex stimulation of myometrium caused by these treatments.
Read – Ayurvedic Panchakarma Treatment: simple explanation for easy understanding

Effect of using contraindicated things by pregnant woman during pregnancy


Sl No Dietetics & mode of life of pregnant women Effect on fetus (child) Authors (Ref)
1 a) Used to squatting / sitting in abnormal positions   b) Habit of suppression of urges of defecation, urination & flatus (fart)   c) Regular indulgence in mproper & excessive exercises   d) Use of less quantity of food, pungent & hot foods Intrauterine death of fetus   Premature delivery of child or   Fetus becomes dry (upasushka – missed abortion) Cha. Sha. 8/21
2 a) Trauma or compression in lower part of belly   b) Peeping or falling into a deep pit or well   c) Taking a ride on a vehicle or animal which keeps jerking   d) Listening to words which are not pleasant to hear Premature delivery of child   Abortion Cha. Sha. 8/21
3 a) Pregnant woman sleeping in supine (on back, facing upwards) position with upper and lower limbs stretched  umbilical cord strangulates neck of fetus and troubles it Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
4 a) Woman sleeping in open areas without covering herself   b) Night walking Unmatta – child becomes insane Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
5 a) Woman who is inclined to quarrel physically or verbally (quarrelsome) Apasmara – child would be epileptic or with low memory Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
6 Excessive indulgence in coitus  child would be born deformed, impudent or lazy and henpecked Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
7 Always being distressed or grieved  child would be coward, emaciated and thin, would have less life span (short-lived) Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
8 Wishing bad and evil for others (abhidhyatri)  child would have nature of troubling others, would be jealous of others and henpecked Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
9 Thief, robber (habituated to steal) Idle, industrious, spiteful Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
10 Intolerant Furious, deceitful, insidious, calumnious Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
11 Sleeping in excess  child would be sleepy, ignorant and will have less digestive power Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
12 Addicted to drinking wine regularly  child would always be thirsty, will have short term memory and fickle mind Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
13 Regularly eating meat of iguana (godha mamsa) Child would suffer from stones in urinary bladder, gravel in urinary bladder or passages or slow stream of urine Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
14 Regularly eating hog’s meat or pork (shukara mamsa) Child would have red eyes, rough body hairs and obstructed breathing or snoring Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
15 Used to eat fish regularly (daily) Child would have fixed eyes or delayed blinking of eyes Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
16 Regular and excessive use of sweet articles with exception of milk  child would suffer from prameha (urinary disorders, diabetes mellitus), would become obese and dumb Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
17 Excessive and daily use of sour articles  child would suffer from raktapitta (bleeding disorders) and also diseases of skin and eyes Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
18 Excessive and daily use of salty foods Child would suffer from early wrinkling, graying of hair and balding Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
19 Excessive and daily use of pungent foods  child would be weak, possess less quantity of semen and would be infertile Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
20 Excessive and daily use of bitter foods Child would suffer from emaciation or edema, weak and debilitated Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
21 Excessive and daily use of astringent foods Child would be dark or dusky complexioned, would suffer from flatulence and eructation, upward and abnormal movement of vata Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61
22 Use of articles and foods likely to produce diseases Diseases are produced according to causes Cha. Sha. 8/21 & A. San. Sha. 2/61

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