Pregnancy serves as an opportune time for "teachable moments" to elicit positive behavior change. We evaluated change in exercise perception, behavior and gestational weight gain in participants engaged in a one-hour educational experience.
Women between 28 0/7 to 36 6/7 weeks with no prior yoga experience carrying a non-anomalous singleton fetus participated in a randomized controlled trial on prenatal yoga. The yoga group engaged in a one-hour yoga class; the attention control educational group, in a one-hour presentation on exercise, nutrition and obesity in pregnancy. Maternal perception of yoga, exercise effects and current health status was conducted before and after the intervention. Gestational weight gain (GWG) and body mass index (BMI) were assessed. A postpartum survey was performed to determine self-reported behavioral changes during and after pregnancy.
Over 6 months, 52 women were randomized and 46 (88%) completed the study. Women reported a more positive attitude towards exercise and yoga after the yoga intervention. Total GWG was similar (yoga 32.9 versus education 32.8 pounds, p = 0.98). Stratified by pre-pregnancy BMI, 13% gained within and 61% gained above the Institute of Medicine guidelines in each group. Of 29 inactive women prior to the intervention, 60% of the yoga group and 75% of the education group began prenatal exercises after the intervention and 50% of each group continued to exercise after delivery. There were no significant differences between groups.
A one-time, one-hour intervention teaching a new exercise or educating women during pregnancy can positively impact pregnancy behaviors and perception with the potential to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.