Some expectant moms experience persistent irritability, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed and an inability to cope with stress. Depression and anxiety can be triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy, genetic predisposition and social factors. These mood states can interfere with bonding, both prenatally and after birth, so it’s important to treat mood disorders during pregnancy. Many pregnant women are reluctant to take a pharmacological agent that might affect the fetus, so, as previous studies have shown, they are receptive to complementary therapies like yoga.
In a pilot study conducted at the University of Michigan that used mindfulness yoga for psychiatrically at-risk women, researchers found this meditative style of yoga, which pays attention to breath and body sensation was feasible, accepted and effective. Symptoms of depression were significantly reduced, while mindfulness and maternal-fetal attachment significantly increased. The study evaluated 18 women who showed signs of depression and who were between 12-26 weeks pregnant. They participated in 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions that focused on poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.
“Our work,” says the study’s lead author Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., “provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression. This promotes both mother and baby wellbeing.”
Muzik M, Hamilton SE, Rosenblum K, Waxler E, Hadi L, “Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women: Preliminary results from a pilot feasibility study,” Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):235-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.006.