Yoga readily acknowledges the multi-faceted connection between mother and unborn child. The biomedical model can certainly benefit from the inclusion of yoga in mainstream maternal healthcare; (see my posts here on Yoga as Medicine for Pregnancy) however, the benefits of yoga are being increasingly appreciated via building a sizeable evidence-base to support its efficacy as a therapeutic modality (see my post here on Yoga & Postpartum Physical Therapy: A Must for New Moms).
Still, too often the physical component of pregnancy is the only facet attended to in the care of the pregnant patient, oftentimes at the expense of the long-term wellbeing of the mother and child. Mechanical monitoring has taken the place of continuous labor support, and caregiver convenience in labor and delivery has become the norm rather than the exception. See my post here on Seven Reasons Yoga + Pelvic PT Make Childbirth Easier.
Health care providers, with post-graduate training in medical/therapeutic yoga, can provide yoga-based maternal care through supporting the following beliefs:
- Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are a natural occurrence and a rite of passage for women.
- Yoga is important and can improve outcomes for mother and baby.
- Yoga as a form of exercise can be superior to traditional rehab and exercise through provision of systemic benefits.
- Labor can be shortened, birth outcomes improved, and recovery quicker in mindful moms.
- Psycho-emotional-social care and continuous support, using the COPE principle and the Pentagon of Wellness model taught in Medical Therapeutic Yoga, are imperative for improving all-health outcomes in mother and baby.
- Yoga and other evidence-based integrative methods facilitate favorable epigenetic outcomes and neuroendocrine regulation during pregnancy and postpartum, and should be a part of mainstream maternal care.
- Practitioners who treat the whole person are better equipped to empower mothers for a lifetime, instead of just intervening for the moment.
…More importantly, ask any mother. She will tell you that her body and baby are more than just a physical condition to be managed. Just the same, ask any woman who struggles with infertility or has experienced loss through miscarriage – she will affirm the traumatic emptiness and lack of connection that is debilitates all facets of her life. Elevating the status of compassionate and effective maternal care, internationally, should be the primary concern of our world. In the words of mentor and social scientist Riane Eisler, what is good for women is good for a Nation. ~G.Garner