When you are stressed, your body automatically adjusts itself to handle the stressful environment. Our bodies do this instinctively, because thousands of years ago, stress usually did imply that we were in immediate danger of death. While we might not be in danger of an attack from a wild predator or bad weather anymore in our evolution, stress is still a major part of our lives. Most of us experience stress at work or at home, and that stress takes its toll on our bodies. Many of our bodies’ natural process are negatively affected by stress as they shut down to prepare for fight-mode. As you can imagine, such changes are especially detrimental when it comes to pregnancy.

Stress during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight, which can both cause serious problems throughout the child’s life. Some studies also show that maternal stress can cause chronic fetal health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. These babies have even shown more signs of depression, low IQ, and irritability.

While you can’t always change the stressful situations in your life, you can take certain measures to deal with them better. Yoga has been proven to be a safe and effective way to lower stress levels in pregnant women. In a recent study, results showed that yoga improved the autonomic response of stress adaptation in pregnant women who did yoga for 36 weeks, which means that their bodies were resistant to the negative effects that stress normally has. Preventing these negative effects with yoga will benefit you throughout the duration of your pregnancy, and it could benefit your child through the entirety of his or her life.

No mother wants to know that her behavior during pregnancy had a negative effect on her child’s life. Sometimes, we cannot remove ourselves from stressful situations. We cannot simply quit our jobs and spend our entire pregnancy on a relaxing vacation. Besides, many stresses during pregnancy even come from the pregnancy itself. However, if you’re pregnant, dealing with stress in a healthy and effective way could improve your pregnancy and your child’s life. For that reason, you should consider yoga as a way of dealing with the inevitable stress you’ll face, as it could have lifelong effects on your baby. Yoga will not interfere with your gestation, and it is a simple activity that anyone can do anywhere.

Source: Maharana Satypriya et al: Effect of Integrated Yoga on Stress and Heart Rate Variability in Pregnant Women. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics Volume 104 Issue 3 pp. 218-222 March 2009