Measuring the benefits of free pregnancy yoga classes
Antenatal yoga is known to have many benefits, including increased comfort in labour, decreased pain in labour and decreased length of labour.
To identify the impact and benefits of free yoga sessions on women's pregnancy experience and birth outcomes.
A structured service evaluation was carried out, consisting of a small-scale audit of birth outcomes of primigravid women who had attended six or more yoga sessions, and a survey of women who had attended.
Women found the classes to be beneficial, and reported the breathing and relaxation to be invaluable. The social aspect of the classes enabled women to make friends and build support networks. The birth outcomes audit was small scale and did not account for confounding variables such as demographics or mobility in labour. Of the women audited, 83% had a spontaneous vaginal birth, and the average length of labour was 5 hours and 45 minutes.
Yoga classes have had multiple benefits for women during pregnancy, labour and birth, and beyond.
Antenatal yoga has numerous benefits for women, including increased comfort in labour, decreased pain in labour and decreased length of labour (Chuntharapat et al, 2008; Jahdi et al, 2017). Furthermore, antenatal yoga has been shown to decrease incidences of anxiety and depression (Newham et al, 2014; Satyapriya et al, 2013). In 2016, there were no yoga or similar classes running in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in South Wales, and options for implementation were explored. Since this study, sessions have also been started in Hywel Dda University Health Board due to a change in job role, enabling more women across Wales to benefit.
An Iolanthe Midwifery Trust award enabled the author to train as a pregnancy yoga instructor in June 2017. It was decided that free yoga sessions would be offered to all women in the Health Board, and that classes would be held in the evenings to make them more accessible to women who continued to work during pregnancy. Classes would be held in the main antenatal clinic area as this was available in the evenings and free to use. Women were informed of the classes by their community midwives, and details were also shared via health board social media pages.
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