What the evidence says about Pregnancy Yoga
Updated: Apr 30
How good is yoga for birth preparation? Research suggests it is a complete childbirth preparation, both in education and it outcomes.
Two studies on physical and emotional outcomes from pregnancy-specific yoga showed it lowered stress hormones and fears, along with increasing vaginal birth rate, shortened first and second stage of labour, lowered preterm births and low birth-weight babies.
The most recent study was by Rong. et.al. and released this year (2020). It consisted of a meta-analysis of prenatal yoga outcomes. The study recommended pregnancy yoga as a birth preparation, stating "Prenatal yoga is an effective complementary medicine to improve delivery outcomes and not to increase the risk of fetus, which is worth recommending to pregnant women.
Yoga helps to:
- increase vaginal delivery rate
- decrease premature delivery rate
- reduce birth weight
- shorten the first stage of labor
- shorten the second stage of labor."
So what does a prenatal yoga class entail? Breathing and relaxation techniques, postures to help ease discomfort, poses to create space for babies and soft tissue alignment, plus mindfulness and meditations to prepare you mentally and emotionally for birthing day.
What do women say about pregnancy yoga as preparation for labour and birth? A separate study which separated women into several groups, found the women who went to weekly yoga classes for 8 weeks had 1/3 less fears about birth than their counterparts who went to traditional antenatal classes. They also measured 14% less stress (cortisol) than their peers. The study found even a single session of prenatal yoga was beneficial. This study from 2014 was a randomised control trial to investigate the effects of yoga on prenatal anxiety and fears of childbirth.
All this evidence has been supported by research of those who do yoga regularly. A national survey in America found over 85% of people who did yoga reported that it helped them relieve stress according to Marlynn Wei, M.D.,is a board-certified psychiatrist, yoga teacher, and co-author ofThe Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga.
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