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A mindfulness course for pregnant women gives reduced symptoms of stress and depression as well as increased well-being

A large randomized controlled study with 197 participants conducted at Karolinska Institutet compared a mindfulness course for pregnant women with a course in Lamaze childbirthing. The study showed a significant reduction in stress, depression, and an increase in well-being among women, who initially had an increased risk of depression and stress during and after pregnancy.

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From the left: Eva Nissen, Richard Bränström, Gunilla Lönnberg, Wibke Jonas och Maria Niemi

Early life interventions that prevent mental ill health and promote good child development are of great importance both from an individual and public health perspective. Stress and mental illness in the mother during pregnancy can have long-term behavioral, cognitive and health effects on the child. Mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly used in health care settings and have shown good results in reducing stress, depression and increasing mental well-being. This study is the first large randomized controlled trial with an active control group, examining the effects of a mindfulness course in pregnant women.

 

For this study we have recruited pregnant women and their partners through maternity care centers in Stockholm. Participants completed questionnaires about their mental well-being. They were then randomised to one of two groups - a group that received an 8-week mindfulness course, or a comparison group who received a 3-week course in Lamaze childbirthing. After completing the course, the participants again answered questionnaires and in this article the results of the survey responses from before and after the courses are published. The questionnaires primarily measured the participants' perceived stress, well-being and symptoms of depression. What we could note was that the participants in the mindfulness course had significantly improved symptoms of stress, depression and psychological well-being compared to those who had taken the Lamaze childbirthing course.

 

Effects of a mindfulness based childbirth and parenting program on pregnant women's perceived stress and risk of perinatal depression-Results from a randomized controlled trial.
Lönnberg G, Jonas W, Unternaehrer E, Bränström R, Nissen E, Niemi M
J Affect Disord 2019 Oct;262():133-142