You’re pregnant, tired, very likely slightly queasy (or throwing up), your body is burgeoning out in unexpected directions and you’ve been directed to ‘stay at home’ for your own safety.
It could just be the effect of being stuck indoors, but if you’re feeling uncharacteristically weepy, irritable and angry, struggling to sleep or overwhelming anxious for your unborn baby you’re not alone – it’s estimated that at least one in ten and possibly as many as one in three pregnant women experience some form of depression.
Acknowledging how you feel and recognising it is often the first step to managing your mood and feeling better. Yes, those pregnancy hormones can play havoc, both physically and emotionally but don’t simply pretend you feel ok, recognising and dealing with how you feel can really help.
An overload of the stress hormone, cortisol, can cross from the mother’s bloodstream via the placenta to the unborn baby. It will benefit you AND your baby if you can you take some time to recognise how you feel and try to take some measures to manage your anxiety and calm your mind.
Pregnancy yoga can help
Research has shown that unrolling your yoga mat and taking some time out of your day to practise prenatal yoga can have a surprisingly beneficial effect.
Yoga in pregnancy promotes holistic health and well-being benefits, way beyond the improvements to strength and flexibility. It improves circulation and helps ease many pregnancy discomforts such as pelvic girdle pain, pregnancy heartburn or backache as well as promoting better sleep.
Yoga is also a powerful force to combat the effects of antenatal depression. Studies have shown that even a single session of yoga can reduce anxiety by up to a third and bring stress hormone levels down by up to 14%.
Research into prenatal yoga
Nearly sixty mothers-to-be took part in a research project conducted by academics and funded by baby charity Tommy’s. The results showed that women attending a yoga class over an eight week period during their pregnancy had significantly decreased anxiety scores compared to the control group.
A single session of yoga was found to reduce anxiety by one third and stress hormone levels by 14% with similar findings made at both the first and final session of the eight week study.
Dr James Newham, who carried out the research at Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at the University of Manchester said: “We have long believed that yoga works but no research had been done to back up the theory.
“We have now gone some way to prove that yoga can help. It was not a small effect either. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy.”
Try prenatal yoga for yourself
Even a few minutes of yogic breathing each day during pregnancy will help – try it for yourself! This simple breathing technique from Clare Maddalena, founder of Lushtums, will make you feel calm, grounded and at ease.
And whilst you can’t attend a prenatal yoga class during the lockdown, our friends at www.activepregnancy.com have a series of pregnancy yoga videos available for you to follow at home, with pregnancy yoga poses to improve your strength, flexibility and prepare your body for labour.