Pregnancy, as well as postpartum, is associated with great symptoms of stress and depression. Poor attachment with the babies and reduced interpersonal interactions are symbolic expressions of powerlessness that have both short and long-term negative effects. The global prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) is currently estimated at 17.7%
Depression during and after pregnancy can cause an increased incidence of preterm birth, fetal growth retardation, and low Apgar (a method to quickly summarize the health of newborn children against infant mortality) scores. Moreover, there is an increased risk to the neurobehavioral and cognitive development of babies and children.
Therefore, reducing stress, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy and the first-year postpartum should be a crucial public-health goal. For example, most hospitals in Taiwan offer a several-hour childbirth education course on a once-monthly basis, with no restriction on the number of women or couples attending the class. This course addresses the physiological changes during pregnancy and selfcare for physical discomfort. It also prepares women for labor, and informs them about labor, epidural anesthesia and cesarean section-related.
However, since the 1990s when mindfulness-based techniques were presented, the mental health of new mothers has significantly improved. Nowadays, mindfulness-based techniques are strongly supported in America and Europe. Mindfulness-based techniques are designed to increase psychological flexibility, which is a fundamental aspect of health.
A pilot randomized control trial conducted by Vieten and Astin (2008), which randomly assigned 31 healthy and pregnant women into two groups, with the intervention group receiving 8 weeks of Mindful Motherhood program training found significant differences in anxiety and negative affect in the posttest results.
Whereas, a study by Pan et al. 2019 was conducted to measure the effects of the mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting (MBCP) program (intervention group) compared to the hospital’s routine childbirth education (comparison group). The final sample size for this study was 74 participants, with 35 in the comparison group and 39 in the intervention group.
Motherhood program training found significant differences in anxiety and negative affect in the posttest results. Moreover, the practice of mindfulness reduced depression and increased happiness in practitioners.
Psychological flexibility encompasses a wide range of human capabilities and is thus adaptable to a variety of situational needs. It helps practitioners keep important aspects of their life in balance and promotes consistent behaviors with awareness and openness, which may significantly benefit psychological health during prenatal and postnatal periods.
Source:Assessing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based programs on mental health during pregnancy and early motherhood – a randomized control trial
Pan et al. 2019