We already know it soothes the body and mind, but here’s even more reason to pull on the yoga pants during pregnancy. Yoga may be a secret weapon when it comes to beating prenatal depression, a new study says.
Brown University psychologist Associate Professor Cynthia Battle and her team asked 34 pregnant women suffering “moderate” prenatal depression to take part in a 10-week maternity yoga program. They were also encouraged to practise their poses at home.
On average the women’s depression scores dropped from “moderate” to “mild” by the end of the study. Only four women sought other treatment during the trial.
Associate Prof Battle’s study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and published in the Women’s Health Issues journal, used a yoga program that mimicked those already available in many communities.
She says the results are “encouraging”. The study found yoga “could be feasible, acceptable, safe, and effective for mild to moderately depressed women”.
According to BabyCenter, one in 10 women suffers prenatal depression. But Associate Prof Battle says research has found depressed pregnant women are often reluctant to use medications and individual psychotherapy.
“What we feel like we’ve learned … is that prenatal yoga really does appear to be an approach that is feasible to administer, acceptable to women and their healthcare providers, and potentially helpful to improve mood,” Battle says.
“This is really about trying to develop a wider range of options that suit women who are experiencing these kind of symptoms during pregnancy. What we don’t want to do is have people fall through the cracks.”
Researchers hope to now conduct a larger-scale study to ascertain whether yoga should become a frontline treatment for prenatal depression.