Anxiety is the most common mental health condition with around one in four people suffering from some form of anxiety in their lifetime. Many integrative medicine doctors and practitioners of Complementary and Alternative medicine recommend yoga and meditation as part of their treatment regime for anxiety disorders.
Anxiety and Depression
Prenatal anxiety is common in many women. Childbirth is challenging for every mother. Some mothers-to-be suffer from panic attacks and feel out of control, more tense and irritable. Increased fear is linked to greater labour pain, stress reactivity, and trauma. Antidepressant pharmaceuticals can reduce symptoms of prenatal anxiety and depression, but its safety is always in question with the increased risk of postpartum haemorrhage. So, it follows that an integrative medicine approach is necessary for treating anxiety in mothers-to-be.
Psychological treatments are often beneficial but there are growing number of women who are turning to Complementary and Alternative medicine to treat prenatal anxiety and depression. Many use acupuncture, herbs, and essential oils but these should only be used under the guidance of an integrative medicine doctor or Complementary and Alternative medicine as they have to be carefully used as they can be detrimental to the infant.
Yoga prenatal classes
There has been a sharp increase in antenatal yoga classes. This is not just a fad but has been clinically proven. For example, a key research study by Newham et al revealed that a single session of antenatal yoga reduced self-reported anxiety by a third and stress hormone levels by 14%. The women who attended one yoga class a week for eight weeks had decreased anxiety symptoms compared with the control group.
Another research study by Bershadsky et al on fifty-one women revealed that 90-minute session of prenatal Hatha yoga, not only improved mood and lowered cortisol levels during pregnancy, but also resulted in significantly lower rates of postpartum depression.
There are many studies that show that meditation /mindfulness-based techniques reduce stress and anxiety during the prenatal period. Mindfulness and meditation are now being integrated into mainstream psychotherapy as it teaches people to:
- Focus on the present moment
- Identify and accept their own experiences
- Cultivate a non- judgment attitude
- Decrease anger and irritability
- Improve sleep
Yoga and meditation practice will help any expectant mum. Yoga is not just a fitness class, but it focuses on the flow of prana /life-force in the mind, body and soul. Yoga and meditation help mum build strength, stamina, develop breathing techniques and acceptance and increased bonding to the baby.
As more people turn towards these traditional medicine practices and integrative medicine practice the growth of prenatal classes will continue to grow to help families develop a positive birthing experience and cultivate a more enriching experience of parenthood thereafter.