Archive for August 8th, 2012

Yoga Reduces Depression in Pregnant Women


Yoga Reduces Depression in Pregnant WomenYoga may help women cope with depression during pregnancy, as well as boost maternal bonding, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

Researchers note that one in five pregnant women experience major depression. Their study found that “mindfulness” yoga helped reduce those symptoms.

“We hear about pregnant women trying yoga to reduce stress but there’s no data on how effective this method is,” said lead author Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of psychiatry.

“Our work provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression. This promotes both mother and baby well-being.”

Hormonal changes, genetic predisposition and social factors set the stage for some expectant moms to experience persistent irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed and inability to cope with stress, according to the researchers. Untreated, these symptoms could be major health risks for both mother and baby, including poor weight gain, preeclampsia, premature labor, and trouble bonding.

While antidepressants have proven to effectively treat these mood disorders, many pregnant women are reluctant to take these drugs out of concern for their infant’s safety, said Muzik.

“Unfortunately, few women suffering from perinatal health disorders receive treatment, exposing them and their child to the negative impact of psychiatric illness during one of the most vulnerable times. That’s why developing feasible alternatives for treatment is critical.”

Evidence suggests women are more comfortable with non-traditional treatments, including herbal medicine, relaxation techniques and mind-body work, including mindfulness yoga, which combines meditative focus with physical poses, the researcher notes.

For the research study, women who were 12 to 26 weeks pregnant and showed signs of depression participated in 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions that focused on poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.

More research is needed, according to Muzik, who notes that funding for follow-up work on this subject was recently provided by a grant from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

“Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” she said. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”

The findings were published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Source: University of Michigan

Pregnant woman performing yoga photo by shutterstock.

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PTSD Can Affect New Mothers


PTSD Affects One in Three New MothersNatural childbirth is a major cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research.

A Tel Aviv University researcher has discovered that approximately one-third of all postpartum women exhibit some symptoms of PTSD, and a smaller percentage develop full-blown PTSD following labor.

Of the women who developed symptoms, 80 percent opted for natural childbirth without pain relief, reported Professor Rael Strous of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Other significant factors identified in the study include the woman’s body image, including discomfort about being in an undressed state for a relatively prolonged period of labor and undergoing elective Caesarean sections; fear during labor; and complications in not only this pregnancy, but in earlier ones as well.

Researchers interviewed 89 post-partum women between the ages of 20 and 40, first within five days after delivery and then again one month after delivery.

They discovered that of these women, 25.9 percent displayed symptoms of PTSD, 7.8 percent suffered from partial PTSD, and 3.4 percent exhibited symptoms of full-blown PTSD.

Symptoms included flashbacks of the labor, the avoidance of discussion of the event, physical reactions, such as heart palpitations during such discussions, and a reluctance to consider having another child.

According to Strous, one of the most influential factors was pain management during delivery. Of the women who experienced PTSD symptoms, 80 percent had gone through a natural childbirth, without any form of pain relief.

“The less pain relief there was, the higher the woman’s chances of developing post-partum PTSD,” he said. Of the women who did not develop any PTSD symptoms, only 48 percent experienced a natural childbirth, he added.

A full 80 percent of the PTSD group reported feeling discomfort with being unclothed, and 67 percent had previous pregnancies which they described as traumatic. Fear of the labor itself, both in terms of expected pain levels and danger to themselves and their children, was also influential.

The researchers also discovered that support during labor, in the form of a midwife or doula, had no impact when it came to avoiding PTSD symptoms. Other factors, such as socioeconomic and marital status, level of education, and religion, also had no effect.

Strous suggests doctors become familiar with the profile of women more disposed to suffer from PTSD symptoms, and be on the look-out for warning signs after labor. He also advocates additional research to develop better treatment plans and make more resources available for women.

There are some immediate steps medical professionals can take, Strous added, including better counseling about pain relief and making sure that patients’ bodies are properly covered during delivery.

“Dignity is a factor that should be taken into account,” he said. “It’s an issue of ethics and professionalism, and now we can see that it does have physical and psychological ramifications.”

The study was published in the Israel Medical Association Journal.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Pregnant woman on bed photo by shutterstock.

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