Yoga may reduce anxiety in pregnant women
It’s not uncommon to feel anxious during pregnancy. Between countless doctor appointments, morning sickness and preparing for the baby’s arrival – there’s a lot to be stressed about. But yoga may be able to help.
As little as one yoga session can reduce anxiety and stress in expectant moms by a third, according to a new study.
Researchers recruited 59 women who were pregnant with their first child and split them into two groups. The first group took part in a weekly yoga session for eight weeks, while the second group had normal prenatal treatment. Both groups were asked to periodically self-report their emotional state and received stress hormone assessments.
Women in the yoga group showed an average reduction in self-reported anxiety by a third and stress hormone levels by 14 percent, after as little as one session.
Additionally, the stress-defeating powers of yoga remained strong across the duration of the eight week course. At the end of the study, the researchers found that the expectant mothers’ stress and anxiety scores were similar to those reported in the first week.
Yoga is often recommended to pregnant women by clinicians on the assumption that it may help in reducing stress, but until now hadn’t been scientifically tested.
“We have now gone some way to prove that it can help,” said lead study author Dr. James Newham, in a statement. “It was not a small effect either. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy.”
Anxiety during pregnancy has been linked to a number of negative outcomes for both mother and baby, including premature birth, low birth weight and development problems. High levels of stress can also lead to postnatal depression, raising the risk of the mother developing depression later in life.
But if yoga isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to reduce stress levels during pregnancy, says Jennifer Johnson, a perinatal education coordinator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois.
“Try deep breathing exercises, going for walks, aroma therapy and getting to bed early,” Johnson said. “And childbirth classes can also help decrease the ‘unknown’ and ease your anxiety.”
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