Making yoga a lifestyle habit can help women during pregnancy and lactation

yoga in pregnancy

Yoga may soon be made a lifestyle habit for pregnant and lactating mothers in India.

According to a decision taken by the National Nutrition Council, a committee of Poshan Abhiyaan, the scheme for holistic nourishment by the Prime Minister, the centre is working on a programme to make yoga a lifestyle habit for pregnant and nursing mothers and children. The decision comes just days ahead of the World Yoga Day, which falls on 21st June.

The programme will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) Ministry. It aims to propagate the idea in modules, which would be customized for the beneficiaries. The scheme would be ‘monitored at the highest level by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Ministry had recently launched a booklet called ‘Mother and Child Care’ by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, an autonomous body that form part of the Ministry.

The booklet contains useful information compiled through years of clinical practice in the field of yoga and naturopathy. The aim was to introduce the well-known benefits of yoga and naturopathy to expecting mothers in the form of a simple booklet.

Yoga need not be considered just as a way to get back into shape post-delivery. It is the ultimate therapy for several health issues during the pre-and post-pregnancy period.

In lactating mothers, high stress levels can reduce the production of oxytocin hormone, which is responsible for production of breast milk. Lack of sufficient supply of breast milk is also influenced by other issues such as hormonal endocrine problems, insufficient glandular tissue, intake of certain medications during pregnancy etc. Practice of yoga stimulates the pituitary gland to increase the production of prolactin and oxytocin hormones, boosting production of breast milk.

There are specific yoga exercises for nursing mothers that help in improving production of breast milk. These poses get more effective when combined with respiration, relaxation and meditation.

When practiced during pregnancy, yoga can help in reducing low back pain, reduce water retention, improve blood circulation and strengthens the pelvic muscles. There are some specific asanas that help with digestions issues, in managing blood pressure, helps in overcoming fatigue. Further, yoga postures can strengthen and stretch the body muscles, improving core strength and make women more flexible. This can prepare them for the physical rigours of labour and child birth, and for attending to baby thereafter.

Often, pregnant women are said to go through higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety during their pregnancy. According to yoga experts, meditation and deep breathing techniques can help pregnant women relax and cope with stress. Pranayama, apart from relieving stress, can help in better pain management too, thereby enabling an easy delivery. Such relaxation techniques can also reduce instances of postnatal depression.

Some specific postures that are beneficial during pregnancy and lactation are the Child’s Pose, Surya Namaskar, Cat’s pose, Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Adhomukha Svanasana and Pranayama.

However, it is important that you choose yoga postures that are safe enough to be practiced during pregnancy without any complications. For this, you should first get your doctor’s approval before practising yoga during pregnancy, and it should be practiced only under the guidance of a yoga expert. Talk to your yoga instructor in case you have any concerns about how yoga can be adapted during pregnancy.

Motherhood may although seem challenging at different levels it is indeed a wonderful journey. Make yoga a part of your lifestyle to keep up the good health of yourself and your baby.

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