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Yoga in Pregnancy

  • A. Kenneth Harper MD

Research has shown that pregnant women benefit from mild to moderate exercise during a normal pregnancy. While there is no clear evidence of reduced risks of complications or C-section, women who exercise have improved weight control, overall sense of well-being and increased tolerance of labor. In particular women report less problems with the common “aches and pains” of pregnancy such as back and pelvic pain.

Yoga is a very effective and safe exercise in pregnancy. It includes strength, flexibility and balance training with a surprising amount of aerobic benefit. Research suggests that prenatal yoga may improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles used in childbirth, decrease lower back pain, nausea, and carpal tunnel symptoms, and improve breathing. Studies have shown yoga to be safe throughout pregnancy. A 2015 study of a group of normal (low risk) pregnant women in their last month of pregnancy showed no adverse effects on the mothers’ vital signs or the fetal heart rate with any of the normal yoga poses. Yoga in pregnancy requires some modifications; instruction from a yoga instructor trained in prenatal yoga is advised. It is also advised to discuss any exercise (including yoga) with your physician, especially if you have any complications; premature labor, ruptured membranes or bleeding would be absolute contraindications to exercise.

I have practiced yoga for almost 3 years. I began yoga after a pinched nerve in my neck required physical therapy. I have no neck problems now. I also rarely experience any of the aches and pains that many “mature” adults experience such as muscle stiffness and low back pain. I am more physically fit than I have been in many years, and my coordination and balance have improved. I have felt for a long time that prenatal yoga is beneficial to pregnant women. Unfortunately, prenatal yoga is not widely available in middle Georgia.

Women’s Specialty Care is excited to offer FREE prenatal yoga classes for our patients! Our instructor is trained in prenatal yoga. We are working with her to set up classes at times that would accommodate most patients. We hope you will consider enrolling in the classes! The schedule will be posted in the office, on our website and on Facebook. All you need is a Yoga mat! (Our instructor usually has a few extra if you don’t have one). I think you would find the classes very worthwhile!