Sarah Christiansen isn't surprised by research that suggests stress during pregnancy can affect the health of a baby.

"It doesn't surprise me one bit because those cortisol levels increase," she said.

It doesn't surprise Treese Morford DeBoer, either.

Christiansen teaches a prenatal yoga class at The Yoga Studio in Rapid City, and Morford DeBoer of Hot Springs teaches a hypno-birthing class. Both classes are designed to improve a mother's physical and mental health using relaxation techniques.

"We concentrate on giving the mom a chance to focus on the baby," Christiansen said.

Christiansen said that prenatal yoga grounds pregnant mothers and gives them a chance to bond with their unborn babies. It also allows them to relax enough to evaluate what their body might need, whether it's more sleep or more food.

"When the mind is calm, you have a chance to see those things that maybe you can't normally see because of all the clutter," she said.

Christiansen did prenatal yoga during both of her pregnancies. She believes the breathing exercises and the physical exercises to open the hips helped her with delivery, while the meditative side of yoga helped her to prepare her mind.

Christiansen said she encourages pregnant mothers to slow their heart rates and get away from shallow breathing. She believes that the baby will sense from his mother what type of environment he will be born into, based on the stress level.

Morford DeBoer, who has a master's degree in social work and three young children herself, said her hypno-birthing classes focus on relaxation not only during the birthing process, but during the entire pregnancy. The classes teach pregnant women to use self-hypnosis to bring the body into a relaxed state. Class participants listen to CDs and incorporate the help of their partners.

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"It can decrease the stress they are having currently, but also decreases stress they might experience during labor," she said.

To find out more about Morford DeBoer's hypno-birthing classes, call 430-7111. To find out more about hypno-birth, go to hypnobirthing.com. To find out more about prenatal yoga at The Yoga Studio, call 390-2320.

Contact Lynn Taylor Rick at 394-8414 or lynntaylorrick@rapidcityjournal.com

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