A study was conducted to examine the effects of a yoga program on pregnant women's comfort, labour pain and birth outcomes (Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 2008;14:105-115). Read on for excerpt on "Effects of Yoga on Maternal Comfort, Labour Pain and Birth Outcomes - Chuntharapat S, Petpichetchian W, Hatthakit U. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice" - a Study Review by Penny Robertshawe published in Journal of Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, June 2009 Volume 15 Issue 2. Prenatal Yoga classes are available at most Yoga in Daily Life centres across Australia.
Method: Sixty-six participants over the age of 18 completed the study. Randomised into two groups of 33. Participants in the experimental group underwent six one hour yoga classes in gestation weeks 26-28, 30, 32, 34, 36 and 37. Instruction in postures, chanting, breathing, yoga relaxation and meditation formed the yoga sessions. This group was also asked to practise yoga at home 3 or more times a week for 10-12 weeks. Participants in the control group received routine nursing care. During scheduled visits, researchers conversed with the participants for 20-30 minutes.
Measurements: During labour a Visual Analog Scale for Total Comfort was used to evaluate comfort levels. This scale consists of a 100mm line on which participants were asked to place a mark that corresponds to their level of comfort. The higher the score, the greater the comfort. These measurements were taken at 3-4cm dilation, then 2 hours after birthing and then another 2 hours after.
On another scale, the Visual Analog Sensation of Pain Scale was used in the same way to evaluate pain levels. The higher the score, the greater the pain. This scale was completed on the same three occasions as the uterine contraction comfort scale was measured.
Results: The experimental group experienced significantly higher maternal comfort than the control group both during labour and two hours post-delivery. Although both groups experienced higher pain levels during labour, the experimental group exhibited significant and lower pain scores compared to the control group.
Conclusion: The researchers concluded, 'Study findings suggest that 30 minutes of yoga practice at least 3 times per week for 10 weeks in an effective complementary means for facilitating maternal comfort, decreasing pain during labour and 2 hours post-delivery and shortening the length of labour.'