Prenatal yoga is the relatively new concept of practicing yoga to benefit the health of a pregnant mother and her in-utero child. While many women practice yoga to reduce stress, stay active, or practice religion, the first studies on the effectiveness of prenatal yoga have just begun to emerge. Current research from medical and psychology degree programs suggests prenatal yoga may be beneficial in reducing depression, improving sleep, reducing pain, and lessening birth complications.
Prenatal depression is a common condition associated with a number of negative symptoms and outcomes for mothers and infants. While treatment of prenatal depression is critical, many mothers-to-be avoid antidepressants, naturally concerned about taking drugs during pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga offers a drug-free alternative therapy. Yoga improves physical, mental, and spiritual health through controlled breathing, meditation, and specific posturing of the body. Because of its lower risks and natural basis, many pregnant women may prefer prenatal yoga to synthetic interventions for depression.
A study in the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care suggests prenatal yoga could be a promising option for treating mild to moderate feelings of depression during pregnancy. According to the study's characterization, prenatal yoga is "particularly gentle in nature and emphasizes techniques to help women ease their labor and birth experience, build comfort with their changing body, and develop a strong bond with the infant."
The researchers also note yoga has an inherent positive force in that it simply seeks to enhance well-being, rather than treat a disorder, by emphasizing a whole body approach. Because prenatal yoga is nonverbal, and requires no therapist, yoga may better suit women who are uncomfortable openly discussing emotional or health problems.
Prenatal yoga also has the benefit of being relatively inexpensive, especially compared to drug treatments for depression. Yoga is already widely practiced around the world, and specialized prenatal programs have followed as its popularity has grown. You can also find plenty of prenatal yoga videos.
A study in Biological Research For Nursing Pregnancy also suggested parental yoga may help improve sleep in some pregnant women. Pregnancy invokes vast hormonal and biological changes, combined with the profound emotional adjustments that occur in anticipation of childbirth and parenthood. Among other resulting symptoms, many women experience sleep disturbance, which can also contribute to unstable mood and other issues.
The findings from the study are the first to suggest prenatal yoga in the second trimester can improve sleep as pregnancy progresses. Overall the study found that healthy women in the second trimester experienced better sleep with fewer awakenings and less wake time after going to sleep. These results are significant because doctors typically expect sleep will worsen as a pregnancy advances. Sleep during pregnancy is valuable as it may indirectly contribute to labor outcomes. Reduced time in bed and increased wake time during the night have been associated with longer labor and increased risk of cesarean birth in first-time mothers.
Various suggestions have been made as to why yoga helps reduce depression. The simplest may be that yoga helps to increase physical activity level and promotes mindfulness. Physical activity has been shown to improve sleep, and exercise might also be an effective preventive treatment strategy for back pain related to pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a stressful and taxing period of time for most women. Mothers want to ensure they're doing all they can to keep themselves and their babies healthy. Prenatal yoga is a great natural way to maintain health and well-being during pregnancy without recourse to drugs. Current research promisingly suggests prenatal yoga may help with prenatal depression, improve sleep, reduce pains and aches, and promote a healthy birth when the time comes.
Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology and its intersection with yoga since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing with psychologydegree.net.