Why is prenatal yoga specifically recommended to pregnant women?
Updated: Apr 12, 2022
I know it’s good to stay active in pregnancy, but why is prenatal yoga specifically recommended to pregnant women?
There are many benefits to staying active in pregnancy and because prenatal yoga is specifically designed to be both safe and beneficial for the pregnant body, it is a great activity for pregnant women. In fact, a 2015 review published in the American Journal of Perinatology found that compared to other forms of exercise, women experienced the most benefits from prenatal yoga. Benefits including reduced occurrence of pregnancy complications and low birthweight, less pain and stress, and improved relationships. Women who practiced prenatal yoga also experienced lower rates of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction.
Additionally, prenatal yoga has been shown to support better birth outcomes. A 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that the need for induction of labor, pain medication, and cesarean surgery was lower in women who practiced prenatal yoga. Women who practiced prenatal yoga had significantly more normal vaginal births and shorter, more comfortable labors, as well as greater comfort postpartum.
Physically, prenatal yoga classes are excellent for strengthening and lengthening the back and supporting muscles that are needed to meet the demand of a woman’s growing belly and changing center of gravity. Movements also work to create more space for easier breathing and optimal baby positioning.
Prenatal yoga provides mental and emotional benefits, giving women a dedicated time each week to focus on themselves and on connecting with their babies. Classes are empowering – building women’s confidence in their bodies’ amazing ability to grow and birth their babies. A 2015 meta-analysis published in BMC Psychiatry also found that women in prenatal yoga classes experienced significantly lower levels of depression, particularly women participating in integrated prenatal yoga classes like ours at Statera that, in addition to physical exercise, also include breathing and deep relaxation.
Women taking my prenatal yoga classes have said that their practice helps them sleep, helps them breathe more easily, aids in digestion, gives them experience with positions and breathing that can be used in labor — and that it just feels good! I have also been able to address specific discomforts women are experiencing through targeted yoga poses. Our class is unique in that my training and experience as a Certified Childbirth Educator and Doula allows me to weave in bits of education and answer pregnancy and birth related questions. I hope you will join us in a birth class and at the yoga mat soon!
~Lacy Knipper, Birth Specialist, Prenatal Yoga Instructor
Gong, H., Ni, C., Shen, X. et al. Yoga for prenatal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry 15, 14 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-015-0393-1
Jiang Q, Wu Z, Zhou L, Dunlop J, Chen P. Effects of yoga intervention during pregnancy: a review for current status. Am J Perinatol. 2015;32(6):503‐514. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1396701
Bolanthakodi C, Raghunandan C, Saili A, Mondal S, Saxena P. Prenatal Yoga: Effects on Alleviation of Labor Pain and Birth Outcomes. J Altern Complement Med. 2018;24(12):1181‐1188. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0079