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Tags >> Pregnancy and Postpartum
Oct 10, 2014

pregnant yoga

Do women who participate in yoga during pregnancy feel more optimistic, more powerful, and more well? Yes! This is the reply from a study involving 21 women who enrolled in a yoga class for six weeks. While twelve of the women had previously practiced yoga, none were currently practicing. The format of the class involved the following components: checking in (sharing the prior week's experiences), centering (visualization and breathing exercises), warm-up (neck rolls, shoulder exercises, and side stretches), yoga flow (yoga standing positions such as sun salutation), standing postures (balance, wall positions), mat work (seated postures and hip exercises), Savasana (modified to left side lying), and meditation.

 

Outcomes tools utilized in this study included the Life Orientation Test-Revised for measuring optimism, the Power as Knowing Participation in Change Tool version II for measuring sense of power, the Short-Form 12 Version 2.0, and the Well-being Picture Scale. Participants in the study were also given a journal to document time spent practicing yoga, and how they felt after practicing yoga, both physically and emotionally. The authors conclude that yoga as a self-care practice can be used to promote self-care and well-being in women who are pregnant.

 

Why are feelings of power, well-being, and optimism valuable for women who are pregnant? The authors discuss the literature which has suggested higher levels of adaptive coping in women with high-risk pregnancies, and the concept that optimism is associated with physical health. Previous studies about using yoga during pregnancy have proposed benefits to the mother both during her pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery. The authors of the study also describe power within the perspective of Rogers' science of unitary human beings, with sharing of interesting philosophical concepts such as resonancy, integrality, and diversity of the human-environmental field.

 


Sep 25, 2014

pregnant yoga

An article this year in Canadian Family Physician concludes that "…pregnant women should avoid practicing hot yoga during pregnancy." Have you ever had a pregnant patient ask you if she should use hot tubs, warm pools, use hot packs, exercise in the heat, or participate in hot yoga? As always, the answer to some of the questions may be "it depends," as many factors must be considered including the woman's age, fitness status, pre-pregnancy exercise routines, general health, level of risk, what part of the body she wants to expose to heat, and ability to modify the requested activity. And, most importantly, the biggest driving factors behind our response to our patients is this: is there any known risk for the mother and her baby, and what does her physician say? If there is any known risk to the mother and to the viability of her pregnancy, then we always want to err on the side of caution.

 

What about yoga? Can participating in a hot yoga class increase core temperature and put the growing fetus at risk? The linked clinical reference article above cites some of the following factors as potential reasons why a person should not participate in hot yoga during pregnancy.

•Elevated core temperatures can occur with fever, extreme exercise, saunas, and hot tubs

•First trimester hyperthermia may lead to neural tube defects, gastroschisis, esophageal atresia, omphalocele, and encephaly in the developing fetus

•Heat decreases time to exhaustion, potentially leading to over stretching, muscle and joint injuries

•High temperatures may increase the risk of dizziness or fainting due to effects on blood pressure

 

I can imagine the arguments from all sides of the story, and we know that, especially in a highly litigious society, a medical provider will always suggest the most conservative approach. When the stakes are inclusive of both a healthcare license and the maternal/fetal health of our clients, rehabilitation professionals must also be medically conservative and mindful of the most safe, and effective health practices. Several prior posts have discussed the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, and the article by Chan and colleagues acknowledges that for pregnant women participating in yoga the benefits can include increased quality of life, decreased stress and anxiety, decreased pain, and improved sleep. Is it reasonable, then, to suggest that a woman avoid hot yoga during pregnancy?

 








Sep 12, 2014

pregnant

One thing I have decided after working with women during and after pregnancy is this: babies come when they want, and how they want to arrive. A mother's best laid birth plans will hopefully have enough flexibility to allow her to feel successful even if, and especially if, her plans have to change. A fundamental question that has been asked, from the standpoint of a mother's beliefs is, do women really feel they have a choice to deliver at home versus in a hospital?

 

Researchers in the UK asked this question of a diverse sample of 41 women who were interviewed. Despite the fact that in the UK, a woman can birth at home with a midwife (and this is covered by the National Health System) home births are unusual, accounting for only 3% of all births. And while it may seem exciting to read that in the US, the number of home births has risen by more than 50% over a decade, the actual numbers include that less than 2% of births occur at home according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.

 

Back to the concept of choice, when women were interviewed about where they planned to give birth, perceptions rather than fact ruled the day. The concept of which environments were "safe" versus "risky" were a common theme, with women having differing explanations of why a hospital might be more safe than the home environment, or vice versa. The authors describe the issue that, when healthy mothers with low-risk pregnancies give birth in hospital environments, medical interventions including surgical birth are more likely to place. Women who would choose a home birth reported beliefs such as not being able to have a 'natural' birth in a hospital, fear of contracting illness or disease, or of wanting to be at home surrounded by loves ones. Women also reported that at home, more control over the environment and increased ability to relax would be available.

 


Sep 02, 2014

c-section

When a woman is interested in a trial of labor after previous cesarean delivery (TOLAC), she and her health care providers will consider the pros and cons of delivery methods. Researchers have aimed to predict success with vaginal birth after cesarean section (CS), with the intention of limiting the risk factors for both the mother and the fetus. A failed trial of labor following a CS may be associated with higher maternal and perinatal morbidity, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) practice bulletin.

 

The goal of a study published last year was to develop a model for predicting success in women desiring a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) section. All women had one prior CS, all were carrying singletons. Transvaginal ultrasound was utilized to evaluate the Cesarean scar (CS) at 11-13, 19-21, and 34-36 weeks' gestation in 320 women. The measurement of the scar was termed residual myometrial thickness (RMT), and the measurements also included the change in RMT from the 1st to 2nd trimester. With increased evidence that CS healing and myometrial thickness in the lower uterus may improve success with VBAC, this study is the first to assess scar dimensions across the first and second trimesters.

 

The CS scar was visible in 89% of the women. Of these, 153 of the 284 were excluded from the prediction model development due to having had more than one prior cesarean delivery, so the hospital protocol of scheduling cesarean was followed. The remaining women were offered a vaginal birth trial, with 10 of the 131 undergoing CS prior to labor for varied reasons. The final count of women included in the analysis was 121, and of these cases, 74 had successful VBAC, 47 experience failed trials of labor, primarily due to fetal distress, failure to progress, or possible scar rupture. (In the women who did not have a visible scar, 82% had a successful vaginal delivery.)

 


Aug 14, 2014

Hip

In a recent study examining demographic and obstetric factors on sleep experience of 202 postpartum mothers, researchers report that better sleep quality correlated negatively with increased time spent on household work, and correlated positively with a satisfactory childbirth experience. Let's get right to the take home points: how are we addressing postpartum birth experiences in the clinic, and how can we best educate new mothers in self-care? You will find many posts in the Herman Wallace blog about peripartum issues, and you can access the link here

The authors recommend that healthcare providers "…should improve current protocols to help women better confront and manage childbirth-related pain, discomfort, and fear." Do you have current resources with which you can discuss these issues (and a referral to an appropriate provider) when needed? In our postpartum 

course, we highlight the challenges a new mother faces due to the commonly-experienced fatigue in the postpartum period. According to Kurth et al., exhaustion impairs concentration, increases fear of harming the infant, and can trigger depressive symptoms. Issues of lack of support, not napping, overdoing activities,, worrying about the baby, and even worrying about knowing you should be sleeping can worsen fatigue in a new mother. (Runquist et al., 2007) 

 

Back to what we can do for the patient: investigate local resources. This may include knowing what education is happening in local childbirth classes (and providing some training when possible), respectfully inquiring of new mothers how they are doing with sleep and demands of running a household (and business or work life), and finding out what support/resources the new mother has but is not accessing. Patients are often hesitant to ask for help, or may feel guilty in hiring someone to help clean for the first few months, feeling that she "should" be able to handle the chores and tasks. Educating women about results of the research and about potential improvements in quality of life can help the entire family. 

 


Aug 03, 2014

Hip

Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome, also known as PTSD, is an unfortunate consequence of many women's birth experiences. While there are known risk factors, there is not currently a standardized screening method for identifying symptoms of PTSD in the postpartum period. One recent meta-analysis of 78 research studies identified a prevalence of postpartum PTSD as 3.1% in community samples and as 15.7% in at-risk or targeted samples. Risk factors for PTSD included current depression, labor experiences (including interactions with medical staff), and a history of psychopathology. In the targeted samples, risk factors included current depression and infant complications. Other authors have explored the relationships between preterm birth and PTSD, preeclampsia or premature rupture of membranes, and infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

 

 

One of the main concerns of failing to identify and treat for PTSD in the postpartum period is the potential negative effect on the family. High levels of anxiety, stress, and depression may impact not only the mother's health, but also may affect her ability to meet her new infant's needs, or complete usual functions in work and home life. One study suggested that "…maternal stress and depression are related to infants’ ability to self-sooth during a stressful situation." Clearly, healthy moms promote healthy families, and each mother deserves the attention that her new infant often receives from the world! 

 

 


Jul 21, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Pregnancy" in New York this November.

 

yoga

Research has long confirmed the effects of maternal health on fetal development and outcomes. But scientific inquiry into the genesis of disease processes in an adult with no apparent risk factors has been uncharted territory until the last few decades.

 

The interrelationship between maternal stress and fetal “programming” was considered as early as the mid-1980’s, beginning with the suggested connection between poor nutrition in early life and adult disease. But the developmental origins of adult health and disease were not studied until the mid-1990’s, with little understanding of the etiology until the last two decades.

 


Jul 18, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

yoga

You may or may not realize that the United States has a very poor track record for postpartum care. In fact, the US has the worst track record for not only postpartum care, but for maternal and infant mortality and first-day infant death rate in the developed world (Save the Children 2013). Between 1999-2008, global mortality rates decreased by 34% while the US’s rates doubled for mothers (Coeytaux et al 2011).

 

In After the Baby’s Birth, maternal health advocate Robin Lim writes,

"All too often, the only postpartum care an American woman can count on is one fifteen minute appointment with her doctor, six weeks after she has given birth. This six week marker ends an arbitrary period within which she is supposed to have worked out most postpartum questions for herself. This neglect of postpartum women is not just poor healthcare, it is abusive, particularly to women suffering from painful physical and/or psychological disorders following childbirth."


Jul 08, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

Note: This post is for colleagues, patients, and friends whose greatest desire is to have a healthy baby via natural childbirth. In this article, natural childbirth refers to an unmedicated delivery of your baby, assisted with natural, non-pharmaceutical means. While not all women have the luxury of natural childbirth, and some choose other means, please know that Ginger’s course supports all women and their personal decisions about birth.

 

yoga

My first natural birth was December 27, 2005. After a long, hard labor that started on Christmas, my son Michael arrived safe and healthy into my arms.

 


Jun 20, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC, PYT. Ginger will be instructing the course that she wrote on "Yoga as Medicine for Labor and Delivery and Postpartum" in Washington this August.

 

yoga

Physical therapists often see women during pregnancy and postpartum, but what can physical therapists do to foster better birth outcomes?

 

A 2012 study conducted in Norway underscores the importance of childbirth education, which can take place as part of patient education and counseling in physical therapy. The study looked at 2206 women with intended vaginal delivery in order to assess the association between fear of childbirth and duration of labor. Labor duration was found to be significantly longer in women with fear of childbirth, with the rate of epidural analgesia, induction, and instrumental vaginal delivery also being higher in fearful women. The authors posit that “anxiety and fear may increase plasma concentrations of catecholamines, and high concentrations of catecholamines have been associated with both enervated uterine contractility and a prolonged second stage of labour.” (Adams et al 2012).

 


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