While many wellness professionals recommend yoga practice for pregnant women, a literature review of publications from 1970 to 2011 has found that existing studies fail to meet current quality standards for rigorous research.
The limited research available does suggest that practicing yoga during pregnancy improves quality of life by reducing stress, anxiety and sleep disturbances. However, since yoga is becoming increasingly popular among pregnant women, certain medical doctors believe that more high-quality research supporting yoga’s role in improving obstetric outcomes is needed.
Investigators from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, conducted a comprehensive search of the PubMed database and identified eight published studies in English that included yoga or yoga-based exercise as the intervention during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Of these studies, five were observational and three were randomized trials.
None of the randomized trials met the CONSORT guidelines for good quality. CONSORT stands for Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials, which were most recently updated in the 2010 CONSORT Statement, an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized, controlled trials. Review authors highlighted the need for CONSORT-compliant research to evaluate the effect of yoga during pregnancy, including the fetal response to this type of exercise.
Shilpa Babbar, MD, lead author of the yoga research review, said, “Yoga is a great exercise that is fun and easy to perform during pregnancy and can help achieve better outcomes for mom and baby. Yoga is becoming a more acceptable means of exercise in the Western world with increasing opportunities for researchers to publish the benefits that can be achieved.” The review was published in the American Journal of Perinatology
(2012; doi:10.1055/s-0032-1304828.) To learn more about CONSORT, go to www.consort-statement.org.
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