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February 5, 2017

How Yoga helped me Cope with Prenatal Depression.

As someone who had gone through a miscarriage previously, I was under a lot of stress when I found out I was pregnant again.

I wanted this one to be safe, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to ensure that it was.

Then the morning sickness and nausea started; I think it was in the fourth week. Suddenly I dreaded every single waking minute.

I couldn’t handle it, wanted it all to be over.

I was so far down in the dumps that I basically cut myself off from the world and went into hiding. I spent my days feeling bad for myself and worrying about my baby, yet I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it.

My husband and I decided that I should see a psychiatrist. He put me on SSRIs, but they weren’t working. I tried talking to the psychiatrist, but he just wasn’t able to understand what I was going through.

Knowing quite well that these medicines could harm the baby, I stopped taking them. The withdrawal effects set in, and I was back to square one.

I was in the middle of my third month of pregnancy, and I felt like a total mess. Every day of pregnancy, with its large hormonal shifts, was a huge burden, and I just didn’t feel capable of taking the physical and mental hammering for another six months.

I was completely overwhelmed—and depressed.

It’s common knowledge that if a mom is under stress or unwell, it can impact the health of the baby. Prenatal depression has been linked to a whole host of problems, including premature birth, underdevelopment, and mental health issues. In addition, prenatal depression can turn into outright depression for the mother after the baby is born.

I was worried, so I started to look into alternative solutions. I had to take care of myself for my baby!

This was when I came across a study conducted in Shanghai, China that proved the effectiveness of pregnancy yoga for treating prenatal depression. I researched further and found other studies backing its case.

An interesting thing caught my eye: There is a direct relationship between time spent doing yoga each day and decrease in depression symptoms felt that day.

In other words, the more yoga you do every day, the better you’ll feel.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t as scared as before. I felt hopeful, encouraged, excited. I wanted to start straight away. I knew about mindfulness and had always thought that it might contain the answer to my problems. Pregnancy yoga was it!

Mindfulness and Prenatal Depression.

Mindfulness is perhaps the cornerstone of yoga, and it’s probably the primary reason yoga can reduce depression. It helped me deal with my anxiety by teaching me to let go of fears and realize that there are bigger things at play. It helped me immerse myself in the “now” and reach a mental place of peace. It helped me stop my mind from wandering, and allowed me to focus more on how I felt.

It’s important to remember that when we enroll in a yoga class—or even practice yoga at home—we need a safe place where we can let go and relax. This time and space are for us and us alone. We have to be uncompromising on this. This is the time when we bring our mind and body in tune with each other.

When we’re at peace and have found our center, the benefits are bound to filter down to the baby.

Pregnancy Yoga For Depression.

I went into my first pregnancy yoga class with an open mind. By the time it became a part of my daily routine, I was feeling upbeat about my pregnancy. I had let go of all the baggage I’d been carrying around.

Most pregnancy yoga classes focus squarely on the muscles affected during pregnancy or needed for childbirth. This usually involves asanas (yoga poses). These poses may not directly influence depression, but other practices used in conjunction with them do.

Breathing exercises called pranayama are essential in yoga—and help with depression. They are believed to bring us more control over our life force. In essence, they helped me relax my mind and body and start finding a sense of calm, which I hadn’t had for a long time.

Another important aspect of pregnancy yoga with respect to depression is meditation. Meditation is all about mindfulness. Meditation is a powerful tool for combatting depression. It allowed me to view things with a fresh perspective and see things in a new light. I finally felt like I was back in control, and I achieved a level of emotional stability I never thought possible.

On the whole, yoga taught me how to attune my mind to the present and keep it from wandering into a place of insecurity. It was this insecurity that was causing stress and prenatal depression.

Pregnancy yoga may be the key to moving past prenatal depression. It was for me!

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Author: Olivia Sanders

Image: Camila Cordeiro/Unsplash

Editor: Toby Israel

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