Yoga to combat anxiety
5th April 2018
This week, we feature a blog written by the brilliant Imogen Staveley, one of our advisers. Imogen is a GP, who is pregnant, and is setting up her own company PregnaPouch which makes sure your pregnancy medical records are kept safely with you at all times. In this blog she explains the benefits of yoga and hypnobirthing, and where you can find out more information.
At Adia, two of our cofounders (Lina and Tyler) are yoga teachers, and we all believe in the power of yoga to de-stress, clear your mind and take some time for yourself – whatever life stage you are at. Research also shows that yoga is a good way to boost your overall health. If you’ve not tried it, why not think about giving it a go! Over to Imogen:
There are so many choices when you find out you are pregnant. This can be really anxiety provoking particularly as the internet makes mounds of information available to us 24 hours a day. As a GP, I see the harmful effects of this – I have patients come to me paralysed by fear of making the wrong decisions. This has prompted me to write a blog on hypnobirthing and yoga which are two ways to counteract the anxiety provoking world we live in. Yoga is suitable throughout your pregnancy (although some instructors advise you don’t do it during your first trimester) whereas hypnobirthing tends to be recommended slightly later in pregnancy.
Yoga consists of breathing exercises and physical balances and stretches that promote wellbeing, strength and flexibility. There are many classes out there. Many women may already be doing yoga when they fall pregnant and its advisable for them to let their instructor know they are pregnant so they can adapt the class for them. One of the advantages of a non-pregnancy specific class is that your partner can also attend as can your non-pregnant friends which can be a great way to relax with them.
Pregnancy yoga classes tend to start after the first trimester. These dedicated classes have the benefit of enabling women to meet pregnant peers which can have the added benefit of providing them with a support network. Finding a class can be a bit daunting as there are so many out there. Your midwife might know of some or alternatively local Facebook groups or other community groups may be able to provide women with recommendations on how to choose one. It’s important to choose one that will suit you i.e. are they drop in or do you have to pay for sets of classes. Are they at a time in the week where you can easily attend around work and other commitments. Do they concentrate on breathing more or the physical side more and which of these would you prefer? Many instructors offer a free or cheaper trial class and this is a really great way to test out a class. You might want to try a few and then pick one that suits you best.
The alternative to classes is doing home videos – you can buy plenty of pregnancy yoga videos online.
Hypnobirthing is a method for teaching women and their birthing partners techniques to help the woman relax during labour. Although it is often associated with home births and birth centre births, it can actually be useful for women having any type of birth. It tends to be recommended for women to start learning about hypnobirthing techniques slightly later in the pregnancy so that they remember them during labour but not so late that they don’t have time to practice. It is a holistic practice that aims to help women face their fears and concerns about pregnancy and use breathing and self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to manage them. It has to be said that learning these techniques does not ensure an easy birth but it can certainly help a woman manage whatever comes her way. It is also a great way to get your birthing partner involved as by them understanding the techniques they will feel better equipped during the birth to help the woman manage. They may also find the techniques useful for themselves.
Many people can feel quite sceptical about hypnobirthing. However, there is evidence behind it. As this Karen Baker states:
“A Cochrane review (Smith et al, 2006) consisting of five randomised controlled trials, involving 749 women, found hypnosis during childbirth decreases the need for pharmacological pain relief in labour, including use of epidural; reduces augmentation of labour and increases spontaneous vaginal birth. NICE (2014) states that women who choose to use hypnosis during childbirth should be supported in doing so, as the evidence available shows that it may reduce the pain of labour and does not appear to adversely affect either maternal or neonatal outcomes.”
Cochrane reviews are well regarded by the healthcare profession as they summarise evidence from many clinical trials. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) is a well-regarded boy in the UK that evaluates research in order to make recommendations to healthcare professionals.
This won’t be for everybody but might be worth a go. Women can choose to access it through books or CDs or by going to classes or by having a private session for themselves and their birthing partner. Again, it is worth choosing an option that works for you.
Here are some books which provide an introduction:
Hypnobirthing, the Way to an Easy, Peaceful Birth by Flood, Judith (UK)
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan (USA)
To find a class you can look at The Hypnobirthing Association and also look for word of mouth recommendations either from friends or from online networks like mumsnet or Facebook.
I hope this blog helps you to consider two ways which might make your pregnancy and your birth experience less anxiety provoking. There are other ways such as doing regular exercise and you can read the PregnaPouch blog on exercise in pregnancy for more information on this.
Any questions, comments or if you want to find out more about PregnaPouch please do get in touch with the team @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
Originally posted on the PregnaPouch website: here: https://pregnapouch.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/1260/