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A Systematic Literature Review

Karen M. Sheffield, Cheryl L. Woods-Giscombé
2016 March
Journal of Holistic Nursing 34(1): 64-79


INTRODUCTION: Perinatal major depressive disorder affects 20% of women, while perinatal anxiety affects 10% of women. Although pharmacological treatment has shown effectiveness, many pregnant women are concerned about potential adverse effects on the fetus, maternal-infant bonding, and child development. Approximately 38% of American adults use complementary and alternative medicine, including yoga and other mind-body strategies. Although complementary and alternative medicine has been less studied in the perinatal population, it potentially offers women and their providers alternatives to traditional medication for treatment of perinatal depression and anxiety. Thus, the purpose of this systematic review was to examine existing empirical literature on yoga and its effects on women's health and well-being during the perinatal period. METHOD: Following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines for systemic literature reviews, literature searches using relevant search terms were performed in four major electronic databases: CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, and EMBASE. Thirteen publications met inclusion criteria. RESULTS: Results indicated that yoga interventions are generally effective in reducing anxiety and depression in pregnant women. DISCUSSION: The use of yoga in the perinatal period shows promise in improving mental health and well-being for women and infants. This review can inform future yoga intervention studies and clinical practice with the perinatal population.