If you’ve enjoyed a yoga class, you know how it can make you feel. One of my yoga teachers, years ago, used to say, with a huge smile on her face, “Ah! Yoga.” At the end of class. It just makes you feel so good. The hardest part can be sitting up from Savasana. Scientists are studying yoga more and more. Not only have they found that yoga is beneficial during pregnancy, but they’ve also discovered it’s safer than you think.
Research Shows an Improvement of Well-Being in Pregnant Women Who are Healthy and Low-Risk
A recent research study in Obstetrics & Gynecology(1) journal found that prenatal yoga is safe even in the last months of pregnancy. In my experience, my students would prove this. I’ve even had moms, expecting twins, practice yoga until 38-41 weeks of their pregnancy. I’ve also had moms start prenatal yoga as early as 5 weeks pregnant. Only 25 women were involved in the study which makes it a small-scale study.
There were pregnant women with experience in yoga, but also yoga beginners. All the pregnant women in the study were healthy and low-risk. During the prenatal yoga classes, researchers monitored the women and followed up within 24 hours to check on the mothers’ and the babies’ well-being. Conclusion: Prenatal yoga is safe for both mothers and their babies.
Prenatal Yoga Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Shortens Labor
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth noted 29 studies with 2217 pregnant women found that prenatal yoga reduced anxiety and depression and lowered the mothers’ perception of stress. When the pregnant women practiced yoga 2-3 times a week, they experienced shorter labor and more women had vaginal births.
Conclusion – Yoga interventions:
- reduced duration of labor
- increased odds of normal vaginal birth
- increased tolerance for pain.
- Twelve or more yoga sessions delivered weekly/bi-weekly had a statistically significant impact on the mode of birth
- 12 or more yoga sessions > 60 min had a significant impact on perceived stress.
Prenatal Yoga Benefits Mothers-to-Be in Many Ways
At any time in your life stretching and strengthening the muscles in your body has many benefits. During pregnancy, your body is changing daily. Your baby grows so rapidly and your body adapts. It is an amazing feat growing a human! But this amazing feat can interrupt sleep, and cause back pain, digestive issues, anxiety, and general discomfort.
One surefire way to help your body and mind adapt to all these changes is to practice prenatal yoga. Even once a week can make a difference. The March of Dimes (3) says studies have shown that Prenatal Yoga:
- Reduces or even eliminates back pain during pregnancy
- Sleep is improved especially on the days women practice prenatal yoga or just exercise, in general.
- Increases your endurance
- Strengthens your whole body.
- Improves balance
- Relieves tension both physically and emotionally
- Increases the mother’s mind-body connection and appreciation for the miracle her body is performing.
- Helps you bond with your growing baby
- The deep abdominal breathing done during a prenatal yoga practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps laboring mothers reduce their perception of pain during labor and birth.
You Are Your Baby’s Environment.
Who doesn’t want a healthy pregnancy with no complications? Since you are your baby’s environment, make it as healthy and calm an environment as possible.
In a 2011 study on Gestational Exercise effects on the Infant Heart (5) researchers found that babies whose mothers exercised during pregnancy had stronger cardiac muscles! Not only does the mom get stronger but so does her baby. That’s amazing! Though this article is about prenatal yoga, any kind of exercise during pregnancy is beneficial. “Women who exercise throughout gestation show significantly decreased risk of preeclampsia, hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), weight gain, rate of spontaneous abortion, congenital abnormalities, and incidence of preterm labor, and offspring have normal growth and development.” (4) Collings CA, Curet LB, Mullin JP. Maternal and fetal responses to a maternal aerobic exercise program. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1983;145(6):702–707. [PubMed]
- Obstetrics & Gynecology: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-in-pregnancy-many-poses-are-safer-than-once-thought-201512298898
- BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth: https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-022-04474-9#:~:text=Twenty%2Dnine%20studies%20with%202217,0.52%3B%20p%20%3C%200.001
- March of Dimes says: https://www.marchofdimes.org/prenatal-yoga.aspx?gclid=Cj0KCQjwteOaBhDuARIsADBqReg1HzRkzg9k6YGraPFZVHScexvNFDe2yMeANk_1rx4WoFK2MNgxwREaAoMbEALw_wcB
- Collings CA, Curet LB, Mullin JP. Maternal and fetal responses to a maternal aerobic exercise program. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1983;145(6):702–707. [PubMed] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6829657/
- Gestational Exercise effects on the Infant Heart – Linda E May,Crystal D Meacham,Kathleen M Gustafson,Alan G Glaroshttps://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.25.1_supplement.1108.5