Exercise during pregnancy may help reduce symptoms of postnatal depression

We all know the positive effects of exercise helping to improve our physical as well as psychological wellbeing, but it may help with postnatal depression.
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We all know about the positive effects of regular exercise helping to improve our physical as well as psychological wellbeing.

It seems it may also be a way to help expecting mothers from reducing their chances of developing postnatal depression.

A new study has found that women who are active during and after pregnancy are less likely to suffer from depressive feelings after their baby is born.

Exercise during pregnancy may help prevent postnatal depression
A new study has found that women who are active during pregnancy are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Source: Pixabay

Exercising during and after pregnancy may help prevent postnatal depression

Postnatal depression (PND) doesn’t discriminate – it can hit anyone at any time, mums and dads included.

Stats reveal it affects one in six new mums and can occur after the first, last or after all pregnancies. Symptoms include anxiety, insecurity, guilt, irritability and tiredness.

Currently, there is no known cause for it with many experts believing it’s down to the surge in hormones a woman experiences during and after pregnancy.

The study

Researchers at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Cuenca, Spain, analysed data from 12 controlled trials of exercise interventions during or after pregnancy between 1990 and 2016.

932 women took part in the study and each were divided into different groups. Those who were in the groups taking part in physical activity, were told to do exercises such as stretching and breathing, walking programs, aerobics, Pilates and yoga.

Compared to women who didn’t exercise, the women in the groups that did exercise throughout pregnancy, were found to have fewer depressive symptoms.

5 best sciatica exercises to relieve back pain during pregnancy
The women in the study did stretching and breathing, walking programs, aerobics, Pilates and yoga. Source: iStock

“We expected that physical activity could reduce postpartum depressive symptoms,” study co-author Celia Alvarez-Bueno told Reuters Health.

“However, we were pleasantly surprised when we found that exercise after pregnancy also reduced depression among the women who didn’t have diagnosable symptoms.

“The negative consequences of postpartum depression not only affect the mother but also the child, who can suffer poor emotional and cognitive development.

“That’s why it’s important to test the most effective strategies to prevent this disorder or mitigate the consequences.”

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recommends pregnant women engage in 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

Seeking support

If you (or someone you know) is struggling with depression, then remember you are not alone. There are many support services out there to help you get through your mental health battles.

PANDA National Helpline  – 1300 726 306

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636

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