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Physical activity during pregnancy has been shown to have multiple benefits for both mother and baby. However, the physical demands and changes from pregnancy can be a barrier to obtaining adequate amounts of activity, particularly later in pregnancy. Most studies have focused on the more standard forms of exercise such as cardiovascular or strength exercises. Yoga may be able to provide a gentle alternative. Although it is clear that yoga does have some health benefits for the general population, it is unclear how or if it can benefit pregnant women.

Researchers at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand wanted to better understand the benefits of yoga for pregnant women. The study, published in Complementary Therapy Clinical Practice , showed that yoga practice during pregnancy can decrease certain discomforts of labor.

About the Study

The randomized, controlled study followed 74 pregnant women. They were split into a group that practiced yoga and a second group that acted as a control group. The yoga group received six one-hour yoga sessions. Compared to the control group, the yoga group reported:

  • Improved comfort during and after labor
  • Shorter duration of first stage of labor
  • Shorter total labor time

There was no difference between the groups when it came to pain medication usage or required labor assistance. Apgar scores are given to babies immediately after birth to assess over all health through reflexes, activity, heart rate, appearance, and breathing. There did not appear to be specific benefits for the baby as both groups had similar infant apgar scores.

How Does This Affect You?

Staying physically active can assist you through labor and recovery. According to this study, yoga may be beneficial. Find activities that suit your preferences and allow for adjustments as you move through your pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor about your physical activity plans and discuss any restrictions she may recommend. Make sure the yoga instructor knows that you are pregnant and can offer you alternatives as necessary.

  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

    http://www.acog.org/

  • American Pregnancy Association

    http://www.americanpregnancy.org/

  • Chuntharapat S, Petpichetchian W, Hatthakit U. Yoga during pregnancy: effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes. Complement Ther Clin Pract . 2008 May;14(2):105-15.