Yoga and Pregnancy

Yoga appears safe during pregnancy


For many years, midwives and OBs, have recommended yoga as a safe and effective way of staying fit during pregnancy.

Some of the suggested benefits of Yoga include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Helping to improve the strength and endurance of the muscles needed in childbirth
  • Improving symptoms such as headaches, nausea and low back pain
  • Reducing the risk of pregnancy complications such as  high blood pressure and poor fetal growth

Obstetricians and midwives have presumed there was no risk, and recommended Yoga without an objective way of determining its safety. Now, researchers have studied this issue and published their findings in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. They looked at the mom's vital signs, the baby's fetal heart tones and evidence of uterine contractions, both before and after Yoga sessions, and what they found was reassuring, confirming that Yoga did not harm mother or baby.

One word of caution for those who do Bikram (hot) Yoga. While Yoga may be safe during pregnancy, excessive heat is not. It is probably still a good idea to avoid Bikram Yoga.


    Birth control after childbirth

    How effective are contraceptives after the baby is born?


    A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology questions the issue of how effective birth control methods are when used in postpartum women.

    The majority of women who have recently delivered (or at least in the past year) are not ready to have another, and it turns out that a remarkable 70 % of pregnancies in the first year and a half are unintended. So why is this the case in women with good access to reproductive health care? At least a quarter of women used no birth control at all and a slightly lower percentage used less effective methods such as condoms or the rhythm method. Women who used long active reversible methods (LARCs) including IUDs such as Mirena, Paraguard or long acting injections or implants such as Depo Provera had very few unintended pregnancies. The rate was less than 0.5%. The big surprise was for women taking oral birth control pills. Over 12% of these women taking these otherwise very effective contraceptives conceived when they thought they were protected.  It turns out that birth control pills may not be as effective after childbirth and women who are not ready to conceive again and want to retain their fertility might be best served going to long acting methods such as IUDs. injections or implants.

    Pregnancy tests in bars

    Can pregnancy tests in bars prevent pregnant women from drinking alcohol?


    Researchers from the University of Alaska are trying to answer that question. It is a well known fact that heavy and chronic alcohol use during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, commonly known as fetal alcohol syndrome. It turns that the last frontier also has among the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in the country. Alcohol use is high in the state and many women continue to drink before they are aware that they are actually pregnant. The investigators have intervened by putting up warning signs and machines offering free pregnancy tests in a several bars across Alaska including the Peanut Farm bar in Anchorage. They hope to determine whether this might dissuade women from alcohol consumption during pregnancy and reduce the incidence of Fetal Alcohol syndrome. Only time will tell.

    For more details, listen to the story on NPR's All Things Considered: