Objective: To study the efficacy of yoga on pregnancy outcomes.
Design and setting: Three hundred thirty five (335) women attending the antenatal clinic at Gunasheela Surgical and Maternity Hospital in Bangalore, India, were enrolled between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy in a prospective, matched, observational study; 169 women in the yoga group and 166 women in the control group.
Methods: Women were matched for age, parity, body weight, and Doppler velocimetry scores of umbilical and uterine arteries. Yoga practices, including physical postures, breathing, and meditation were practiced by the yoga group one hour daily, from the date of entry into the study until delivery. The control group walked 30 minutes twice a day (standard obstetric advice) during the study period. Compliance in both groups was ensured by frequent telephone calls and strict maintenance of an activity diary.
Main outcomes: Birth weight and gestational age at delivery were primary outcomes.
Results: The number of babies with birth weight > or = 2500 grams was significantly higher (p < 0.01) in the yoga group. Preterm labor was significantly lower (p < 0.0006) in the yoga group. Complications such as isolated intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) (p < 0.003) and pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) with associated IUGR (p < 0.025) were also significantly lower in the yoga group. There were no significant adverse effects noted in the yoga group.
Conclusions: An integrated approach to yoga during pregnancy is safe. It improves birth weight, decreases preterm labor, and decreases IUGR either in isolation or associated with PIH, with no increased complications.