Baby Blues

Perinatal Depression Can Be Reduced With Yoga

It is not a secret that pregnancy hormones dampen mood, but it’s also much worse for some expectant moms. The statistics are not clear but according to some of them – almost 10 per cent of women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 per cent in the first three months after having a baby. The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the ‘baby blues’ which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 per cent of women. The ‘baby blues’, or general stress adjusting to pregnancy and/or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression. Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but her relationship with her baby, the child’s development, the mother’s relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.

The term perinatal depression includes a wide range of mood disorders that can affect a woman during pregnancy and after the birth of her child. It includes prenatal depression, the ‘baby blues’, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.

Some research demonstrates that mindfulness yoga helps to reduce perinatal depression for these women.

Pregnant women who have been defined as psychiatrically risky and who took part in a 10-week mindfulness yoga intervention had significant reductions in perinatal depression symptoms. Expectant mothers also reported stronger attachment with their babies in the womb.

This research provides promising evidence that yoga could be an effective option to pharmaceutical treatment for women that are pregnant showing signs of depression.

Mental health disorders in pregnancy, such as depression and anxiety, have grown to be a significant health issue. Hormone changes, genetic predisposition as well as social factors set the stage for many expectant moms to be persistently irritable, feeling overwhelmed and unable to handle stress. If untreated, these symptoms are major health threats for both the mom and the baby, including preeclampsia, poor weight gain, and premature labor as well as bonding problems with the newborn baby. Although antidepressants can effectively treat these mood disorders, previous research also shows that many women that are pregnant are reluctant to take antidepressants out of concern for the safety of the baby.

Evidence indicates that women tend to be more comfortable with non-traditional treatments, including relaxation techniques, herbal medicine, and mind-body work.

Yoga is growing in popularity, however in America, many classes focus on yoga as “exercise,” omitting the practice to be fully within as soon as and aware, authors say.

On the other hand, mindfulness yoga, a combination of meditative focus and physical poses, has proven to be a powerful solution to combat stress as well as boost energy. The symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder during pregnancy or early parenthood are the same as those experienced at any other time of (   life. Some conditions can be a little harder to identify and deal with when you are pregnant or have a baby though, as it’s also a time of great change and adjustment, both mentally and physically (e.g. hormonal changes).