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Yoga and Massage Reduce Prenatal Depression

by R. Carnavale | May 9th, 2012 | Pregnancy

Researchers at the University of Miami report yoga and massage therapy may help pregnant women who suffer from depression. According to the study, when pregnant women who were depressed attended yoga classes or had 20-minute massage therapy sessions two times a week for 12 weeks, their depression decreased. Also, their babies were less likely to be premature or have low birth weights than the babies of pregnant women who suffered from untreated depression.

Prenatal yoga classes can help pregnant women by:

  • increasing flexibility by lengthening and  stretching muscles
  • developing good breathing techniques
  • promoting relaxation
  • helping to relieve back pain
  • improving posture
  • helping to bring more oxygen to the baby

During a therapeutic massage, a licensed practitioner who has training in prenatal massage techniques will manipulate and apply pressure to muscles, which helps them relax and promotes oxygen flow. Therapeutic massage can help pregnant women to:

  • reduce stress
  • relieve heartburn
  • relieve headaches
  • relieve backaches

Pregnant women who are interested in either yoga or massage therapy should consult with their physicians before engaging in those activities.

Depression is a real medical condition that can happen to any pregnant woman due to mood swings caused by hormonal changes, feelings of being overwhelmed, or a pre-existing mental illness. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in 10 pregnant women suffers from a depression that doesn’t go away. Prenatal depression can lead to premature births and babies with low birth weights. Also, if depression isn’t treated during a pregnancy, a woman is at higher risk for postpartum depression after giving birth.

Here are some common symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling sad, empty, guilty, hopeless, or  worthless most of the day, nearly every day
  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Feeling tired or low on energy more than usual
  • Losing interest in work or other activities
  • Having unexplained aches and pains

Pregnant women who experience any of the above symptoms should seek professional medical advice from their physician.

Further Reading:

Depression in pregnant women and mothers: How children are affected: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724170/

Prenatal depression: why some pregnant women feel despair: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/10/prenatal-depression-pregnant-women-despair

Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity:                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22464118

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