I have to confess, I am a newbie in yoga.
In fact, I started just two months ago.
I was more of an interval training kind of girl until I got pregnant. But priorities change when you are expecting a baby. I am currently in my 4th month of pregnancy and since weights and intense cardio are not suitable for me during pregnancy, I decided to switch to yoga.
It was one of the best decisions I have made so far.
But this article is not about praising yoga.
As an ex-academic, I often like to check in on what science really says about things I try for the first time, this includes things like products, foods and training methods.
I have no doubt that prenatal yoga is safe for me and my baby, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see if there are any studies assessing its actual effects on mother and baby.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that prenatal yoga is actually one of the very best things a pregnant woman can do.
Yoga is not only an efficient form of exercise but it also provides solutions for all the problems that can arise during pregnancy.
From prenatal depression and anxiety, to pregnancy complications and preterm labor, prenatal yoga has something protective and beneficial to offer—even in high-risk pregnancies.
Interestingly, there is no other modality or treatment, conventional or alternative, that is entirely free of side effects and offers profound healing to pregnant women.
Take for example pregnancy complications. A pilot study found that pregnant women who practice prenatal yoga have fewer complications like gestational diabetes, pregnancy hypertension and preeclampsia.
But it doesn’t stop there because the babies reap health benefits too. A premature labor is more unlikely for women who practice prenatal yoga during pregnancy, plus the newborns weigh a bit more for their gestational age, which gives them a definite health head start.
Then, more evidence suggests that the placenta of pregnant women who practice prenatal yoga is developing much better. Scientists believe that this happens because the blood circulation that supports the placenta, uterus and eventually the baby, adapts just the way it should, so that it provides all the necessary nutrients to the growing embryo. This means a healthier baby and reduced risk for miscarriage, complications or preterm birth.
Of course, women who practice prenatal yoga also sleep better, are less depressed and have less anxiety, all common problems among pregnant women, especially in the last months of pregnancy.
And since prenatal depression and stress are associated with pregnancy complications, guess what, yoga reduces the risk of experiencing those.
And let’s not forget that yogi expectant mamas have less or no pain in the pelvis and joints that many pregnant women suffer from. This improves their quality of life and makes pregnancy the pleasant experience it was always meant to be.
Reviewing all the remarkable findings about prenatal yoga makes me think of the amazing things that science is discovering, which can radically better our life.
Proper nutrition and lifestyle can support pregnancy and most importantly, protect the health of the new generation. Prenatal yoga can and should be a significant component of this picture. It is a rare opportunity for providing non-invasive, holistic healthcare, but is unfortunately almost never recommended to pregnant women.
Given the amazing health benefits of prenatal yoga, I think it is fair to say that practicing it can transform a woman´s pregnancy and the health of her baby.
Imagine the difference if prenatal yoga was part of the standard prenatal care provided to expectant mothers by hospitals and clinics, while doctors/ nurses were trained to recognize and promote the blessing it has to offer.
Having a world with happy and healthy mothers and children is a grand part of a brighter future. It is a great beginning for a new life and a great opportunity for a better world.
Who would expect that from prenatal yoga? I didn’t.
 The effects of yoga in prevention of pregnancy complications in high-risk pregnancies: a randomized controlled trial. Prev Med. 2012 Oct; 55(4):333-40.
 Efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcome. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Apr;11(2):237-44.
 Effects of yoga on utero-fetal-placental circulation in high-risk pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Adv Prev Med. 2015;2015:373041.
 A randomized controlled trial of yoga for pregnant women with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 Aug;21(3):166-72.
 Depression and Anxiety in Early Pregnancy and Risk for Preeclampsia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. April 2000 – Volume 95 – Issue 4 – p 487–490.
 Effects of Mindful Yoga on Sleep in Pregnant Women: A Pilot Study. Biol Res Nurs April 2010 vol. 11 no. 4 363-370.
 Yoga during pregnancy: A review. Am J Perinatol 2012;29:459–464.
 Yoga during pregnancy: effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2008 May;14(2):105-15.
Author: Eleni Roumeliotou
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith / Editor: Renée Picard