Weekly yoga class 'eases childbirth anxiety'

Yoga eases pre-birth stress for pregnant womenPic: Getty

It may be one of the most magical, natural and emotional events in a woman's life, but for many mums-to-be, the thought of childbirth and all the pain that comes with it, is a source of stress during pregnancy.

A new study may have found the solution to the problem of anxiety over the birth of a baby though, in the form of yoga.

In the first research of its kind, scientists at Manchester University took two groups of women, all 22 weeks into their pregnancy, with half taking a weekly yoga class for two months, and the remainder attending antenatal classes.

Just one yoga class, specially adapted for pregnancy and to include relaxation techniques, along with exercises to strengthen the body and ease pain, caused anxiety in the expectant mums to drop by a third.

After two months of classes, those taking the yoga class were less anxious about giving birth, and their levels of stress hormones had fallen. Many of those who took part in the study later credited what they had learned in the classes with keeping them calm when the big day came, and ultimately making the birth easier.

Lead researcher Dr James Newham, whose study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, said: "We have long believed that it works but no research has been done to back up the theory.

"We have now gone some way to prove that it can help. It was no small effect. This has the potential to really help mothers who are feeling anxious about their pregnancy."

Did you take yoga classes during your pregnancy? Do you think it should be available to expectant mums on the NHS? Leave your comments below...