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Depressed pregnant women who practiced mindfulness yoga for 10 weeks saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms and reported stronger attachment to their babies in the womb, according to a new study from the University of Michigan. The study, “Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women,” is published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
“Our work provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression,” lead author Dr. Maria Muzik said in a press release. “This promotes both mother and baby well being.”
The authors note that mental health disorders during pregnancy are a serious health concern. One in five expectant mums experience major depression. Untreated feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope with stress can lead to health risks such as poor weight gain, high blood pressure, premature labour and trouble bonding with the new baby.
Research suggests that mindfulness yoga, which combines meditative focus with physical poses, reduces stress and boosts energy.
Participants in the U of M study – 18 women who were 12-26 weeks pregnant and showed signs of depression – went through 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions in which they practiced poses for the pregnant body and paid attention to how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.
“Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” Muzik said. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”
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