It’s a well-known fact that exercise during pregnancy is physically beneficial for moms-to-be, but what about the best ways to address mental health during pregnancy?
Studies show that anxiety, depression and stress during pregnancy can lead to negative fetal and maternal health implications. According to research conducted at Michigan State University, anxiety that goes untreated during pregnancy has been associated with shorter gestational periods and negative impacts on the infant’s neurodevelopment. Chronic stress and depression during pregnancy has also been found to have a connection to low infant birth weights and infant development issues.
To advocate for the health of mothers and babies during the gestational period, doctors have begun suggesting that pregnant women consider participating in pre-natal yoga, a rising U.S. health trend that is supported by current research.
Yoga is a mind-body practice made up of of postures, breath work, and meditation. With prenatal yoga poses are adjusted to specifically benefit pregnant women and increase their strength, stability and flexibility. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is a safe practice and that it can have many benefits for moms-to-be and their babies including reduced anxiety, reduced depression and stress, improved sleep and decrease in lower back pain, nausea and headaches.
Prenatal yoga classes also teach mothers how to practice slow and deep breathing, which can help to reduce shortness of breath and work through contractions during labor. Mothers also learn how to do gentle stretches that focus on strengthening specific parts of the body’s full range of motion. Not only does prenatal yoga help a pregnant woman stay fit, but yoga can also help prepare the body for childbirth by strengthening pelvic floor muscles used in labor.
Not all yoga poses and practices are safe for expectant mothers and levels of safe activity varies based on trimester. Some practices such as hot yoga should be avoided completely during pregnancy. To ensure that the practice is right for you, it is critical to talk to your doctor before starting any prenatal yoga practices.
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