The Power of Yoga: Investigating the Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of a Prenatal Yoga Intervention to Prevent Excessive Gestational Weight Gain
Excessive gestational weight gain (EGWG) affects 50% of US pregnant women and may be an important contributor to obesity in both the mother and child. Novel strategies to prevent EGWG are needed to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes for the mother and child. This dissertation presents three manuscripts that 1) propose a novel model to explain how prenatal yoga may prevent EGWG through behavioral, psychological/emotional, and physical factors, 2) test the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a prenatal yoga intervention to prevent EGWG compared to a pregnancy education comparison group, and 3) qualitatively investigate pregnant women’s experiences participating in a prenatal yoga intervention to prevent EGWG. In manuscript two, 49 women were recruited and randomized to a 12-week prenatal yoga intervention (n=23) or a time-matched pregnancy education comparison group (n=26). A satisfaction survey was administered at post-intervention to assess feasibility outcomes (e.g., acceptability, demand). Mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-awareness, sleep quality, depression, anxiety, and perceived stress were assessed at baseline and post-intervention (12-weeks) and GWG was assessed weekly. Linear mixed models were used to analyze pre-post changes in primary (i.e., GWG during pregnancy) and secondary (i.e., mindfulness, emotion regulation, self-awareness, sleep quality, depression, anxiety, and stress) outcomes. In manuscript three, interviews were conducted with pregnant women who participated in the prenatal yoga intervention (n=13). Interview responses were summarized using an inductive approach to thematic analysis. Findings in manuscript two suggest that prenatal yoga was a feasible method to prevent EGWG with high enjoyment and satisfaction reported among participants. The average number of prenatal yoga sessions attended was 8.84 (SD = 3.85). There was no significant group differences on the rate of GWG or total GWG throughout the intervention and a significant group x time interaction effect for stress (p=.03). In manuscript three, twelve themes were identified among the data and were organized into the following categories (three themes each): 1) experiences of prenatal yoga, 2) prenatal yoga and weight, 3) barriers to prenatal yoga, and 4) facilitators of prenatal yoga. This initial evidence suggests that prenatal yoga has potential as a strategy to prevent EGWG in pregnant women.