Reduce Depression During and After Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression During and After Pregnancy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness practice, when attention increases in one area of life, the awareness expands in many other areas, as well. A mother who is able to care for and attend to her own vulnerabilities will have much more access to those very same skills as a parent.” – Sonya Dimidjian

 

The perinatal period, from the onset of pregnancy to the end of the infants first year, is a time of intense physiological and psychological change in both the mother and the infant. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment. The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression during and after pregnancy.

 

Since, many drugs can affect the fetus, non-pharmacological treatments for depression are preferable. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was specificly developed to treat depression and consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying depression. So, it would make sense to further study the effectiveness of MBCT for depression during the perinatal period.

 

In today’s Research News article “Staying Well during Pregnancy and the Postpartum: A Pilot Randomized Trial of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for the Prevention of Depressive Relapse/Recurrence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5718345/ ), Dimidjian and colleagues recruited pregnant women with Major Depressive Disorder and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT was modified for pregnant women and administered for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks and home practice was assigned. The women were measured for depression before and after treatment and at 1 and 6 months after birth.

 

In regards to depression, they found that relapse rates for depression over the 6-month follow-up period were significantly lower for the MBCT group; 18% vs. 50% for treatment as usual. In addition, the MBCT group had significantly lower levels of depression after treatment. Although the differences were not significant the MBCT group took fewer antidepressant medications and had fewer visits for therapy. A goal of this pilot research study was to assess the acceptability of the program and compliance with its requirements. They found that 89% completed the MBCT program and home practice occurred on over 70% of the available days. In addition, the women reported a high degree of satisfaction with the program.

 

These are impressive results for a pilot study and should provide the encouragement to perform a large randomized controlled clinical trial with an active control group. The results suggest that MBCT treatment is a safe and effective treatment for perinatal depression and has high acceptability and compliance among pregnant women. Hence it is a promising treatment for perinatal depression.

 

So, reduce depression during and after pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

“Not only does cultivating moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts and surroundings seem to help pregnant women keep their stress down and their spirits up—benefits that are well-documented among other groups of people—it may also lead to healthier newborns with fewer developmental problems down the line.” – Kira Newman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dimidjian, S., Goodman, S. H., Felder, J., Gallop, R., Brown, A. P., & Beck, A. (2016). Staying Well during Pregnancy and the Postpartum: A Pilot Randomized Trial of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for the Prevention of Depressive Relapse/Recurrence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(2), 134–145. http://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000068

Abstract

Objective

Clinical decision-making regarding the prevention of depression is complex for pregnant women with histories of depression and their healthcare providers. Pregnant women with histories of depression report preference for non-pharmacological care, but few evidence-based options exist. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has strong evidence in the prevention of depressive relapse/recurrence among general populations and indications of promise as adapted for perinatal depression (MBCT-PD). With a pilot randomized clinical trial, our aim was to evaluate treatment acceptability and efficacy of MBCT-PD relative to treatment as usual (TAU).

Methods

Pregnant adult women with depression histories were recruited from obstetrics clinics at two sites and randomized to MBCT-PD (N= 43) or TAU (N=43). Treatment acceptability was measured by assessing completion of sessions, at-home practice, and satisfaction. Clinical outcomes were interview-based depression relapse/recurrence status and self-reported depressive symptoms through 6-months postpartum.

Results

Consistent with predictions, MBCT-PD for at-risk pregnant women was acceptable based on rates of completion of sessions and at-home practice assignments, and satisfaction with services was significantly higher for MBCT-PD than TAU. Moreover, at-risk women randomly assigned to MBCT-PD reported significantly improved depressive outcomes compared to participants receiving TAU, including significantly lower rates of depressive relapse/recurrence and lower depressive symptom severity during the course of the study.

Conclusions

MBCT-PD is an acceptable and clinically beneficial program for pregnant women with histories of depression; teaching the skills and practices of mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy during pregnancy may help to reduce the risk of depression during an important transition in women’s lives.

Public Health Significance Statement

This study’s findings support MBCT-PD as a viable non-pharmacological approach to preventing depressive relapse/recurrence among pregnant women with histories of depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5718345/

Improve Mental Health During Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Improve Mental Health During Pregnancy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Not only does cultivating moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts and surroundings seem to help pregnant women keep their stress down and their spirits up—benefits that are well-documented among other groups of people—it may also lead to healthier newborns with fewer developmental problems down the line.” – Kira Newman

 

The period of pregnancy is a time of intense physiological and psychological change. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. A debilitating childbirth fear has been estimated to affect about 6% or pregnant women and 13% are sufficiently afraid to postpone pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment.

 

The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to review and summarize the studies of the effects of mindfulness training during pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions During Pregnancy: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5693962/ ), Dhillon and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of 14 published controlled research studies of the effects of mindfulness training on the psychological health of the mother.

 

They found that the published research reports that mindfulness training during pregnancy produces significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, and increases in mindfulness. Hence, mindfulness training was found to significantly improve the psychological health of the pregnant women. Some studies identified similar trends but not significant differences and so there is some question as to the robustness of the effects. Further research is needed to verify these benefits.

 

It is well established that mindfulness training reduces anxiety, depression, and perceived stress in a wide array of healthy and ill individuals of a variety of ages. So, it is not surprising that mindfulness training has similar effects on pregnant women. But, that it does, is particularly important during pregnancy due to the consequences for the child and its development.

 

So, improve mental health during pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

“Practicing mindfulness during pregnancy and childbirth can bring great benefits, which will extend beyond the birth into the sometimes stressful, always profound and mostly joyful weeks and months of learning to care for our child. Mindfulness can be a source of strength and pleasure in our years as a family.“ – Daniel & Jannette

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dhillon, A., Sparkes, E., & Duarte, R. V. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Interventions During Pregnancy: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1421–1437. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0726-x

 

Abstract

This systematic review aims to assess the effect of mindfulness-based interventions carried out during pregnancy exploring mindfulness and mental health outcomes. A systematic review was conducted to appraise the current literature on the subject area. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were agreed and after reviewing titles, abstracts and full papers, 14 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The quality of included articles was checked using the Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Pooled results of the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) reporting outcomes on anxiety, depression and perceived stress indicated no differences between the mindfulness intervention group and the control group. Pooled results of the non-RCTs reporting anxiety, depression and perceived stress showed a significant benefit for the mindfulness group. Mindfulness as an outcome was assessed in four RCTs for which the pooled results show a significant difference in favour of the mindfulness intervention when compared to a control group. The pooled results of the four non-RCTs also indicate a significant difference following mindfulness intervention. Results suggest that mindfulness-based interventions can be beneficial for outcomes such as anxiety, depression, perceived stress and levels of mindfulness during the perinatal period. Further research would be useful to explore if such benefits are sustained during the post-natal period.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5693962/

Reduce Postpartum Depression with Mindfulness

Reduce Postpartum Depression with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Interventions that bring a deeper sense of self-knowing and well-being to mothers allow them, in turn, to model this behavior for their children. We can’t possibly have the foresight to see how it ripples out from there, but we can be sure that it does.” – Heather Grimes

 

The birth of a child is most often a joyous occasion. But, often the joy turns to misery. Immediately after birth it is common for the mother to experience mood swings including what has been termed “baby blues,” a sadness that may last for as much as a couple of weeks. But some women experience a more intense and long lasting negative mood called postpartum depression. This occurs usually 4-6 weeks after birth in about 15% of births; about 600,000 women in the U.S. every year. For 50% of the women the depression lasts for about a year while about 30% are still depressed 3 years later.

 

Postpartum depression is treated much like depression in general with medications, psychotherapy, and support groups. But these methods often don’t work or have troublesome side effects. So, alternative treatments are needed. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to study the effects of mindfulness training as a treatment for postpartum depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effectiveness of mindfulness training on reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5586989/, Sheydaei and colleagues recruited new mothers who exhibited symptoms of depression and randomly assigned them to receive either treatment as usual or an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBCT consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying depression. MBCT was administered for 2 hours, once a week, for 8 weeks. The women were measured for depression before and after treatment.

 

They found that after treatment the control group showed no change in depression while, on the other hand, the women who received the MBCT program had a significant, 25%, reduction in depression. The conclusions from this study need to be tempered with the fact that the control condition did not have an active treatment. So, placebo effects, demand characteristics, experimenter bias, etc. could be alternative explanations. But, it has been well established that mindfulness training in general and MBCT in particular are effective in treating depression. So, it is likely that MBCT effectively reduced the depression in these women with newborn children. Hence, MBCT appears to be a safe and effective treatment for postpartum depression. Mindfulness training might be employed not only to treat postpartum depression but also as a preventative measure.

 

So, reduce postpartum depression with mindfulness.

 

“mothers in the mindfulness group seemed to have had a better psychological experience of labor compared to the control group. They reported feeling greater “self-efficacy” during childbirth (the sense that they were able to handle it rather than feeling afraid), and lower symptoms of depression after the workshop and several weeks after childbirth.” – Jenn Knudsen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sheydaei, H., Ghasemzadeh, A., Lashkari, A., & Kajani, P. G. (2017). The effectiveness of mindfulness training on reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression. Electronic Physician, 9(7), 4753–4758. http://doi.org/10.19082/4753

 

Abstract

Background and Aim

Postpartum depression is one of the prevalent disorders among new mothers. The present research aimed to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness training on reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Method

The present quasi-experimental research was conducted on 410 new mothers in Shahid Chamran Hospital, Tehran in 2014. Using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Structured Clinical Interview and Psychological Clinical Diagnosis, 67 mothers were selected and then randomly divided into experimental and control groups, each of which with 32 applicants. Afterwards, the experimental group received mindfulness training for 8 sessions, each lasting for two hours while the control group received no training. The data were analyzed through descriptive statistics and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) in SPSS, version 20.

Results

Results showed that based on Beck Inventory, the scores for the experimental group in post-test were significant (p<0.001), compared to those for the control group. Also, it was revealed that pre- and posttest mean scores for postpartum depression in the control group were 25.81 and 25.12 respectively while the scores for the experimental group were 24.75 and 18.5 respectively. Since the posttest mean score in the experimental group was lower than that in the pretest, it can be said that the treatment, i.e., mindfulness training, was effective in reducing depression symptoms in mothers.

Conclusion

Findings proved that mindfulness training was effective in reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression in new mothers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5586989/

Improve Psychological Health in Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Health in Pregnancy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Not only does cultivating moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts and surroundings seem to help pregnant women keep their stress down and their spirits up—benefits that are well-documented among other groups of people—it may also lead to healthier newborns with fewer developmental problems down the line.” – Kira Newman

 

The perinatal period, from the onset of pregnancy to the end of the infants first year, is a time of intense physiological and psychological change in both the mother and the infant. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. A debilitating childbirth fear has been estimated to affect about 6% or pregnant women and 13% are sufficiently afraid to postpone pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment.

 

The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. Childbirth fear is associated with “low childbirth self-efficacy, greater use of pain medication during labor, more unwanted obstetric interventions in labor, as well as increased risk of postpartum depression.” Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat childbirth fear, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to further study the effects of mindfulness training during the perinatal period.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Comparative Study of Mindfulness Efficiency Based on Islamic-Spiritual Schemes and Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Reduction of Anxiety and Depression in Pregnant Women.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385237/, Aslami and colleagues recruited Islamic women in their 16th to 32nd week of pregnancy and based upon pretesting of anxiety and depression selected two groups; a high anxiety and a high depression group. The groups were then randomly divided into a no-treatment control condition, a 12-week Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) condition or an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) condition. Traditional MBSR consists of training and practice in meditation, yoga, and body scan. The researchers modified the training protocol to include Islamic spiritual teachings. The CBT and MBSR conditions were assigned home practice for 45 minutes per day for 6 days per week. The participants were measured for anxiety and depression before and after treatment.

 

They found that both the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) conditions produced significant decreases in both anxiety and depression while the no-treatment control group did not. In addition, the MBSR condition produced significantly greater reductions than the CBT condition. In fact, MBSR produced a very large reduction, on average, of 79% in anxiety and 81% in depression while CBT produced, on average, only a 45% reduction in anxiety and a 43% reduction in depression. Hence, although CBT was effective, MBSR produced far greater improvements in the pregnant women’s psychological states.

 

These are excellent results. It has been well established that mindfulness training produces significant reductions in anxiety and depression in a wide variety of people with a variety of conditions. But, this trial compared its effectiveness to another known effective treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and found MBSR to be far superior. I am not aware of any other direct comparisons of the two forms of therapy. It is not known, however, if the inclusion of Islamic spiritual teachings added to MBSR’s effectiveness in this group of Islamic women. Regardless, it is clear the MBSR training is highly effective in reducing anxiety and depression in pregnant women. This should be of great assistance in making for a smooth remainder of the pregnancy and delivery and may well produce better outcomes with the infant.

 

So, improve psychological health in pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

“There could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible.”Cassandra Vieten

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Aslami, E., Alipour, A., Najib, F. S., & Aghayosefi, A. (2017). A Comparative Study of Mindfulness Efficiency Based on Islamic-Spiritual Schemes and Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Reduction of Anxiety and Depression in Pregnant Women . International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery, 5(2), 144–152.

 

Abstract

Background:

Anxiety and depression during the pregnancy period are among the factors affecting the pregnancy undesirable outcomes and delivery. One way of controlling anxiety and depression is mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. The purpose of this study was to compare the efficiency of mindfulness based on the Islamic-spiritual schemas and group cognitive behavioral therapy on reduction of anxiety and depression in pregnant women.

Methods:

The research design was semi-experimental in the form of pretest-posttest using a control group. Among the pregnant women in the 16th to 32nd weeks of pregnancy who referred to the health center, 30 pregnant women with high anxiety level and 30 pregnant women with high depression participated in the research. Randomly 15 participants with high depression and 15 participants with high anxiety were considered in the intervention group under the treatment of mindfulness based on Islamic-spiritual schemes. In addition, 15 participants with high scores regarding depression and 15 with high scores in anxiety were considered in the other group. The control group consisted of 15 pregnant women with high anxiety and depression. Beck anxiety-depression questionnaire was used in two steps of pre-test and post-test. Data were analyzed using SPSS, version 20, and P≤0.05 was considered as significant.

Results:

The results of multivariate analysis of variance test and tracking Tukey test showed that there was a significant difference between the mean scores of anxiety and depression in the two groups of mindfulness based on spiritual- Islamic scheme (P<0.001) and the group of cognitive behavioral therapy with each other (P<0.001) and with the control group(P<0.001). The mean of anxiety and depression scores decreased in the intervention group, but it increased in the control group.

Conclusion:

Both therapy methods were effective in reduction of anxiety and depression of pregnant women, but the effect of mindfulness based on spiritual- Islamic schemes was more.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385237/

Reduce Depression and Anxiety Around Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Reduce Depression and Anxiety Around Pregnancy with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By learning mindfulness skills as part of their childbirth education, expectant mothers can reappraise the impending birth as something they can handle instead of viewing it as something to fear.” – Larissa Duncan

 

The perinatal period, from the onset of pregnancy to the end of the infants first year, is a time of intense physiological and psychological change in both the mother and the infant. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. A debilitating childbirth fear has been estimated to affect about 6% or pregnant women and 13% are sufficiently afraid to postpone pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment.

 

The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. Childbirth fear is associated with “low childbirth self-efficacy, greater use of pain medication during labor, more unwanted obstetric interventions in labor, as well as increased risk of postpartum depression.” Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat childbirth fear, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to study the effects of mindfulness training during the perinatal period.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Maternal Perinatal Mental Health Outcomes: a Systematic Review.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506176/, Shi & MacBeth reviewed the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness training on the emotional states of women in the perinatal period. They found 18 published studies that employed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), or mindful yoga as the treatment for anxiety and depression during the perinatal period.

 

They found that the research indicated that mindfulness-based treatments were particularly effective for anxiety and to a lesser extent for depression and its recurrence. The treatments were reported to be safe, with no appreciable negative side effects, and acceptable, with low drop out rates. They note that there is a need for more highly controlled randomized controlled trials that include active control conditions in the future.

 

The results from the summarized 18 studies suggest that mindfulness based interventions are safe and effective treatment for perinatal anxiety and depression. Mindfulness practices have been shown to increase the focus on the present moment. Anxiety tends to revolve around the future while depression appears to revolve around the past. By focusing the individual on what is occurring in the present moment mindfulness training appears to decrease thinking about the past or the future and may thereby reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness training has also been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. The reduction in stress responses during the high stress perinatal period may also contribute to the women’s improved mood.

 

So, reduce depression and anxiety around pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

“Since mindfulness has a lot to do with being in touch with the sensations in your body, and being aware, new moms are in a prime state to learn it! In fact, pregnancy and early motherhood, nursing and sleep disturbance, weight gain and weight loss-these all in some way force you to be in your body. For those of us who live most of our lives above our necks, this can actually be a great blessing.”Cassandra Vieten

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Shi, Z., & MacBeth, A. (2017). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Maternal Perinatal Mental Health Outcomes: a Systematic Review. Mindfulness, 8(4), 823–847. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0673-y

 

Presenting with common mental health difficulties, particularly depression and anxiety, there is also preliminary evidence that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and integrated mindfulness yoga practices may also be effective in reducing common mental health difficulties during pregnancy. We systematically reviewed and synthesized the current literature on the effectiveness of MBIs in reducing severity of perinatal anxiety and depression. Databases including PubMed, Cochrane Library, IndMED and PsychoInfo were searched for relevant studies. Manual searches were conducted in relevant articles and Google Scholar. Seventeen cohorts representing 18 studies were included. Pre-post effect sizes were reported for both treatment and control groups. Seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs), two non-randomized controlled trials and nine treatment evaluations were included. Maternal participation in an MBI was associated with reductions in perinatal anxiety of moderate to large magnitude. Results for the effect of MBIs on depression were less consistent, with pre-post treatment reductions of moderate magnitude, but no significant differences in depression scores when MBI was compared with a control group. There was some evidence that MBIs were associated with increased mindfulness. Risk of bias in studies was variable. Our review offers preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of MBIs in reducing perinatal anxiety, with more equivocal findings with regard to perinatal depressive symptoms. Further methodologically rigorous evaluation using RCTs and longer follow-up periods are recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506176/

Improve Pregnancy and Birthing with Mindfulness

Improve Pregnancy and Birthing with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible.” Cassandra Vieten

 

The perinatal period, from the onset of pregnancy to the end of the infants first year, is a time of intense physiological and psychological change in both the mother and the infant. Anxiety, depression, and fear are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. A debilitating childbirth fear has been estimated to affect about 6% or pregnant women and 13% are sufficiently afraid to postpone pregnancy. It is difficult to deal with these emotions under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible worrisome, torment.

 

The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, birthing, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. Childbirth fear is associated with “low childbirth self-efficacy, greater use of pain medication during labor, more unwanted obstetric interventions in labor, as well as increased risk of postpartum depression.” Hence, it is clear that there is a need for methods to treat childbirth fear, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to study the effects of mindfulness training during the perinatal period.

 

In today’s Research News article “Benefits of preparing for childbirth with mindfulness training: a randomized controlled trial with active comparison.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427564/, Duncan and colleagues recruited women who were pregnant with their first child, in their third trimester, and planning on having a hospital birth. They received standard childbirth education and instruction and were then randomly assigned to receive either an additional childbirth course or Mind in Labor training; “a brief intervention for pregnant women and their partners specifically designed to target labor-related fear and pain by teaching tailored mindfulness-based coping strategies.” Training was conducted over a weekend for a total of 18 hours of instruction. It included body scan, yoga, and meditation practices. The women were measured at baseline before treatment on average at 29.4 weeks gestation, at the completion of training, and around 4-6 weeks after birth for childbirth self-efficacy, maladaptive pain, perceived pain in labor, use of pain medications in labor, birth satisfaction, depression, interoceptive awareness, and mindfulness.

 

The mindfulness group but not the control group had a marked and significant increase in childbirth self-efficacy and body awareness and decrease in pain catastrophizing after the intervention. The control group had a significant increase in depression from baseline to post-treatment and a further significant increase at the post-birth follow-up while the mindfulness group has a significant decrease in depression after treatment that was maintained at the post-birth follow-up. There was also a trend for the mindfulness group to be less likely to use opioid analgesics.

 

These are interesting and significant results that suggest that the addition of mindfulness training to standard birth education improves the women’s psychological state prior to and after birth. It decreases depression and worries about pain and makes the women feel more aware of their bodies and in better control of the childbirth process. Mindfulness training is known to decrease depression, and improve emotion regulation. It also focuses the individual on what is transpiring at the present moment which is much more manageable than the worst fears of the women. By focusing on now rather than the scary future, catastrophizing is minimized. These are important benefits that may have consequences for the later health and well-being of not only the mother but also the child.

 

So, improve pregnancy and birthing with mindfulness.

 

“Cue the spotlight on mindfulness. When nausea or aching ligaments can’t be alleviated with medication, or I can’t get away for a much-needed nap, or even just get through the morning without eight trips to the restroom, I try to dwell less on my misery and choose to be mindful instead.” – Ashley Jonkman

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Duncan, L. G., Cohn, M. A., Chao, M. T., Cook, J. G., Riccobono, J., & Bardacke, N. (2017). Benefits of preparing for childbirth with mindfulness training: a randomized controlled trial with active comparison. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17, 140. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-017-1319-3

 

Abstract

Background

Childbirth fear is linked with lower labor pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment. Empirically validated childbirth preparation options are lacking for pregnant women facing this problem. Mindfulness approaches, now widely disseminated, can alleviate symptoms of both chronic and acute pain and improve psychological adjustment, suggesting potential benefit when applied to childbirth education.

Methods

This study, the Prenatal Education About Reducing Labor Stress (PEARLS) study, is a randomized controlled trial (RCT; n = 30) of a short, time-intensive, 2.5-day mindfulness-based childbirth preparation course offered as a weekend workshop, the Mind in Labor (MIL): Working with Pain in Childbirth, based on Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) education. First-time mothers in the late 3rd trimester of pregnancy were randomized to attend either the MIL course or a standard childbirth preparation course with no mind-body focus. Participants completed self-report assessments pre-intervention, post-intervention, and post-birth, and medical record data were collected.

Results

In a demographically diverse sample, this small RCT demonstrated mindfulness-based childbirth education improved women’s childbirth-related appraisals and psychological functioning in comparison to standard childbirth education. MIL program participants showed greater childbirth self-efficacy and mindful body awareness (but no changes in dispositional mindfulness), lower post-course depression symptoms that were maintained through postpartum follow-up, and a trend toward a lower rate of opioid analgesia use in labor. They did not, however, retrospectively report lower perceived labor pain or use epidural less frequently than controls.

Conclusions

This study suggests mindfulness training carefully tailored to address fear and pain of childbirth may lead to important maternal mental health benefits, including improvements in childbirth-related appraisals and the prevention of postpartum depression symptoms. There is also some indication that MIL participants may use mindfulness coping in lieu of systemic opioid pain medication. A large-scale RCT that captures real-time pain perceptions during labor and length of labor is warranted to provide a more definitive test of these effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427564/

Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Pregnancy with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“research is beginning to show how mindfulness decreases depression and anxiety during pregnancy and boosts positive emotions.” – Mindful

 

Depression occurring after delivery of a baby is well known, documented and discussed. Less well known but equally likely is intense depression and anxiety during pregnancy. But, between 14% and 23% of women suffer from some form of depression and between 5% to 16% of women experience an anxiety disorder during pregnancy. Intense anxiety and depression are difficult to deal with under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible torment.

 

Without treatment, prenatal depression can pose a serious threat to a mother-to-be, who may stop taking care of herself or, in extreme cases, become suicidal. This can even cause a woman to want to terminate her pregnancy. There are no statistics on the matter but it has been speculated that prenatal depression can lead to abortion. Anxiety during depression is also a serious threat being associated with more health problems during pregnancy, postpartum depression and anxiety, and premature birth.

 

Prenatal depression and anxiety are often not recognized or diagnosed. When it is, the typical treatment is drugs. But these drugs are often ineffective and frequently have troublesome side effects and may not be safe during pregnancy. So, alternative treatments are needed. Mindfulness training may be an answer. Meditation and yoga practices have been shown to help improve mental and physical health during pregnancy. This is encouraging as mindfulness training has many benefits and is completely safe, even during pregnancy. Hence, it is important to further research the potential beneficial effects of mindfulness training during pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy on Depression and Anxiety among Pregnant Women: a Randomized Clinical Trial.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1417100888313833/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5045953/

Yazdanimehr and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of mindfulness training for anxiety and depression during pregnancy. They recruited women who were 1 to 6 months pregnant and randomly assigned them to receive treatment as usual (control) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Treatment was delivered over 8 weeks with 1.5 hour sessions occurring once a week. Depression and anxiety were measured before and after treatment and followed up 1 month later.

 

They found that the women receiving MBCT had significant improvements in both depression (46%) and anxiety (45%) at the end of treatment and at one month follow-up while there were no significant change for the control participants. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed specifically to treat depression. So, its effectiveness with the women is not surprising. It develops mindfulness and works to alter thought patterns to interpret experiences objectively without reference to negative or self-deprecating beliefs. This training is very effective for the relief of depression and also anxiety.

 

The fact that MBCT had such large effects with this vulnerable population is particularly encouraging. By relieving anxiety and depression in these pregnant women it should be helping to insure a better pregnancy, more full term births, and less problems postnatally. This suggests that MBCT could be a very valuable treatment and perhaps a recommended practice for pregnant women.

 

So, reduce anxiety and depression in pregnancy with mindfulness.

 

Pregnancy and childbirth are great crash-courses for motherhood. For nine months, you are increasingly required to be in your body. Labor and childbirth may be the time when you are most in touch with your body-the most embodied any of us will ever be-though not necessarily in a very comfortable way. This doesn’t end when the baby is born. Learning how to be present and grounded in your body even in the face of discomfort is a great skill to cultivate now and for the rest of your life as a mother.”Cassandra Vieten 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Yazdanimehr, R., Omidi, A., Sadat, Z., & Akbari, H. (2016). The Effect of Mindfulness-integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy on Depression and Anxiety among Pregnant Women: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Caring Sciences, 5(3), 195–204. http://doi.org/10.15171/jcs.2016.021

 

Abstract

Introduction: Pregnancy can be associated with different psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. These problems are often neglected and left untreated. This study aimed to examine the effect of mindfulness-integrated cognitive behavior therapy on depression and anxiety among pregnant women.

Methods: A convenient sample of 80 pregnant women were selected. Participants were randomly allocated to either the experimental or the control groups. Participants in the experimental group received mindfulness-integrated cognitive behavior therapy while women in the control group only received routine prenatal care services. A demographic questionnaire, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory were used for data collection. Descriptive statistics measures such as frequency, mean, and standard deviation as well as the repeated-measures analysis of variance test were used for data analysis.

Results: After the study intervention, the mean scores of anxiety and depression in the experimental group were significantly lower than the control group.

Conclusion: Mindfulness-integrated cognitive behavior therapy can significantly alleviate pregnant women’s depression and anxiety. So implementation of this method alongside with other prenatal care services is recommended.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5045953/

 

Does Perinatal Mindfulness Training Help?

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Since mindfulness has a lot to do with being in touch with the sensations in your body, and being aware, new moms are in a prime state to learn it! In fact, pregnancy and early motherhood, nursing and sleep disturbance, weight gain and weight loss-these all in some way force you to be in your body. For those of us who live most of our lives above our necks, this can actually be a great blessing.”Cassandra Vieten 

 

The perinatal period, from the onset of pregnancy to the end of the infants first year, is a time of intense physiological and psychological change in both the mother and the infant. Anxiety and depression are quite common during pregnancy. More than 20 percent of pregnant women have an anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms, or both during pregnancy. Depression is characterized by a low or sad mood, loss of interest in fun activities, changes in eating, sleep, and energy, problems in thinking, concentrating, and making decisions, feelings of worthlessness, shame, or guilt, and thoughts that life is not worth living. It is difficult to deal with under the best of conditions but in combinations with the stresses of pregnancy can turn what could be a joyous experience of creating a human life into a horrible torment.

 

Depression occurring after delivery of a baby is well known, documented and discussed. Less well known but equally likely is depression during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy. Without treatment, prenatal depression can pose a serious threat to a mother-to-be, who may stop taking care of herself or, in extreme cases, become suicidal. This can cause a woman to want to terminate her pregnancy. There are no statistics on the matter but it has been speculated that prenatal depression can lead to abortion.

 

The psychological health of pregnant women has consequences for fetal development, and consequently, child outcomes. Depression during pregnancy is associated with premature delivery and low birth weight. It is also associated with higher levels of stress hormone in the mother and in the newborns, which can make them more stress reactive, temperamentally difficult, and more challenging to care for and soothe. Long-term there’s some evidence that the children have more social and emotional problems, including aggression and conduct problems and possibly child IQ and language.

 

It is clear that there is a need for methods to treat depression and anxiety during pregnancy. Since the fetus can be negatively impacted by drugs, it would be preferable to find a treatment that did not require drugs. Moderate exercise including yoga practice is also beneficial during pregnancy. Mindfulness training has also been shown to improve anxiety and depression normally and to relieve maternal anxiety and depression during pregnancy. So, it would make sense to study the effects of mindfulness training during the perinatal period.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in the Perinatal Period: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1360546443969278/?type=3&theater

or see summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868288/

Lever Taylor and colleagues review 17 research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training on the women’s psychological health during the perinatal period. They found that compared to before, after mindfulness training the women demonstrated significantly reduced levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, and increased mindfulness, all with moderate effect sizes. The effects appeared to be greater for women who had the greatest levels of distress prior to training. Unfortunately, when a control condition was included (7 studies), either usual care or a wait-list control, these women improved comparable amounts to the mindfulness trained women and there were no significant differences between the groups.

 

Hence, clear conclusions cannot be drawn regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the psychological health of women during the perinatal period. The reviewed studies in general investigated the effectiveness of a variety of different mindfulness training practices. So, the lack of effectiveness in comparison to control conditions may well have been due to the employment of sub-optimal trainings. In addition, the majority of studies looked at healthy normal women and mindfulness training may only be effective in women with psychological distress. Needless to say, more research is needed to determine whether, under what conditions, and with what kind of training program that mindfulness training may be helpful for the psychological health of women during the perinatal period.

 

But your job in this holding environment is to, well, hold what is happening. To tolerate his distressing moments, to recognize and reflect his feelings and their expressions in his body and on his face, even to be the target of and survive his anger, frustration, and aggression. You can do a kind of aikido with your baby. Mindful awareness can help you in this dance of attunement, synchrony, and consciously participating in co-creating the space through which both of you move through your days” – Cassandra Vieten 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Lever Taylor, B., Cavanagh, K., & Strauss, C. (2016). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Interventions in the Perinatal Period: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155720. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155720

 

Abstract

Perinatal mental health difficulties are associated with adverse consequences for parents and infants. However, the potential risks associated with the use of psychotropic medication for pregnant and breastfeeding women and the preferences expressed by women for non-pharmacological interventions mean it is important to ensure that effective psychological interventions are available. It has been argued that mindfulness-based interventions may offer a novel approach to treating perinatal mental health difficulties, but relatively little is known about their effectiveness with perinatal populations. This paper therefore presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for reducing depression, anxiety and stress and improving mindfulness skills in the perinatal period. A systematic review identified seventeen studies of mindfulness-based interventions in the perinatal period, including both controlled trials (n = 9) and pre-post uncontrolled studies (n = 8). Eight of these studies also included qualitative data. Hedge’s g was used to assess uncontrolled and controlled effect sizes in separate meta-analyses, and a narrative synthesis of qualitative data was produced. Pre- to post-analyses showed significant reductions in depression, anxiety and stress and significant increases in mindfulness skills post intervention, each with small to medium effect sizes. Completion of the mindfulness-based interventions was reasonable with around three quarters of participants meeting study-defined criteria for engagement or completion where this was recorded. Qualitative data suggested that participants viewed mindfulness interventions positively. However, between-group analyses failed to find any significant post-intervention benefits for depression, anxiety or stress of mindfulness-based interventions in comparison to control conditions: effect sizes were negligible and it was conspicuous that intervention group participants did not appear to improve significantly more than controls in their mindfulness skills. The interventions offered often deviated from traditional mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction programmes, and there was also a tendency for studies to focus on healthy rather than clinical populations, and on antenatal rather than postnatal populations. It is argued that these and other limitations with the included studies and their interventions may have been partly responsible for the lack of significant between-group effects. The implications of the findings and recommendations for future research are discussed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868288/

 

Reduce Stress during Pregnancy with Mindfulness

Mindfulness pregnancy2 Muthukhrishian

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindful awareness practices helped me so much during the adventure of pregnancy and early motherhood that I began to turn my professional interest toward how mindfulness might help reduce stress and improve mood among pregnant women and early moms, enhance their connection with their babies, and really thrive through the transformation of motherhood.”Cassandra Vieten

 

Pregnancy produces vast changes in the woman’s life, her body, her emotions, and her family. These changes may well be desired and welcomed, but they produce stress. Indeed, stress is a common experience in pregnancy. But, it must be controlled. Too much stress can produce sleeping problems, headaches, loss of appetite or its opposite, overeating. If the levels of stress are high and prolonged it can produce health problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease in the mother. It can also make it more likely that the baby will be born prematurely or with a low birthweight, both of which are indicators of health problems for the infant and in the later child’s life.

 

So, it is important to either control stress during pregnancy or find ways to better cope with it. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the individual’s psychological and physiological responses to stress. It does not lower stress. Rather, it lowers the individual’s responses to the stress. Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful during pregnancy. It can help to relieve the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany pregnancy and even appears to benefit the neurocognitive development of the infant. Hence, mindfulness training may be a safe and effective method to assist the pregnant woman in coping with the stresses of pregnancy.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Perceived Stress Scores and Autonomic Function Tests of Pregnant Indian Women.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1289644157726174/?type=3&theater

or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866093/

Muthukrishnan and colleagues studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress in pregnant women. They randomly assigned women who were 12 weeks of gestation to receive either 5-weeks of mindfulness meditation training in addition to treatment as usual or treatment as usual only. The meditation group received 2 training sessions per week and were asked to meditate at home for 30-minutes per day. The women were assessed prior to and after the training for perceived stress, heart rate, and heart rate variability responses normally and in response to a stressor.

 

They found that the meditation group had a significant decrease in perceived stress, respiration rate, and lower blood pressure changes in response to a physical and a mental stressor. There was also a significant increase in heart rate variability in the meditation group. These measures indicate that autonomic nervous system tone has been improved with an increase in vegetative (parasympathetic) activity. These are important findings that indicate that meditation training decreases the pregnant women’s responses to stress and improve her overall peripheral nervous system functioning.

 

Hence, mindfulness meditation is a safe and effective method to reduce the psychological and physical responses to the stress of pregnancy. So, practicing meditation should be encouraged for pregnant women.

 

“By cultivating a mindfulness practice in pregnancy you’ll be better able to switch off from worries and stay relaxed on the big day, allowing your amazing body to simply do what it is more than capable of doing: to give birth smoothly and without fear.” – Susan Morrell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are  also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Muthukrishnan, S., Jain, R., Kohli, S., & Batra, S. (2016). Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Perceived Stress Scores and Autonomic Function Tests of Pregnant Indian Women. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 10(4), CC05–CC08. http://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2016/16463.7679

 

Abstract

Introduction: Various pregnancy complications like hypertension, preeclampsia have been strongly correlated with maternal stress. One of the connecting links between pregnancy complications and maternal stress is mind-body intervention which can be part of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Biologic measures of stress during pregnancy may get reduced by such interventions.

Aim: To evaluate the effect of Mindfulness meditation on perceived stress scores and autonomic function tests of pregnant Indian women.

Materials and Methods: Pregnant Indian women of 12 weeks gestation were randomised to two treatment groups: Test group with Mindfulness meditation and control group with their usual obstetric care. The effect of Mindfulness meditation on perceived stress scores and cardiac sympathetic functions and parasympathetic functions (Heart rate variation with respiration, lying to standing ratio, standing to lying ratio and respiratory rate) were evaluated on pregnant Indian women.

Results: There was a significant decrease in perceived stress scores, a significant decrease of blood pressure response to cold pressor test and a significant increase in heart rate variability in the test group (p< 0.05, significant) which indicates that mindfulness meditation is a powerful modulator of the sympathetic nervous system and can thereby reduce the day-to-day perceived stress in pregnant women.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that mindfulness meditation improves parasympathetic functions in pregnant women and is a powerful modulator of the sympathetic nervous system during pregnancy.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866093/

 

Mindful Motherhood

Mindful Motherhood

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“There could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible.”Cassandra Vieten

 

Mothers’ Day was basically invented and promoted by the greeting card and florist industries. But, even though its origins were crass, the idea took off, because it hit upon a truth; that we all love our mothers. As a result, Mothers’ Day has become a culturally accepted and encouraged time for the celebration of motherhood and all that it means. The deep bonds and love that virtually everyone feels for their mothers and their mothers for them fuels the celebration of the holiday.

 

Motherhood is ubiquitous. Everyone has a mother, who in turn, has had a mother, who has had a mother, etc. Many are, or want to be mothers. It plays an immensely important role in our individual and societal existence. The bond that develops between mother and child is a beautiful, virtually unbreakable, thing, perhaps the strongest bond between individuals that exists. It is essential for ensuring the nurturance that is mandatory for the life of the virtually helpless infant and the development of the child. The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of mothering has a major impact on the offspring that continue throughout their lives. It is such an important role that it seems reasonable to explore what goes into successful mothering and child rearing and what might be of assistance in improving mothering. There has accumulated a tremendous amount of scientific evidence that mindfulness, (“awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”) can be an important asset for mothers, from conception, to pregnancy, birth, nurturing the infant, and childrearing and the mindfulness of the child can be an important asset for its development. So, on this day celebrating motherhood, we’ll explore the role of mindfulness.

 

Mothering does not occur in a vacuum. It’s been said that “It takes a village” to rear a child. Indeed, motherhood is embedded in a community. There are many people who are either directly or indirectly involved, from the father, to the extended family, the community, the medical profession, teachers, clergy, social workers, childcare workers, and even the government. So relationships become an essential part of mothering from conception, to birth, and family and social life. Mindfulness has been found to be important to becoming a mother in the first place. Mindfulness makes the individual more attractive to the opposite sex, it improves sexual relationships, it helps to relieve infertility, and it improves relationships in general. All of which underscores the importance of mindfulness in improving the likelihood that conception will occur and that childbirth will be born into a supportive social context.

 

Mindfulness continues to be helpful during pregnancy. It can help to relieve the anxiety and depression that commonly accompany pregnancy and even appears to benefit the neurocognitive development of the infant. After birth mindfulness continues to be of assistance as it improves caregiving and parenting, even in the case where the child has developmental disabilities. Mindfulness not only helps the parents deal with the stresses of childrearing, but developing mindfulness in the child can be of great assistance to helping the kids develop emotionally and cognitively, develop high level thinking, develop healthy self-concepts, develop socially, deal with stress, and cope with trauma and childhood depression. It even improves the child’s psychosocial development and academic performance and grades in school. In addition, it seems to be able to assist children through the troubled times of adolescence.

 

It should be clear that mindfulness is an important component of motherhood. Why would this be so? There are a number of reasons that mindfulness helps. It reduces the psychological and physical effects of stress on the mother and let’s face it, pregnancy, birth, caring for infants and raising children can be quite stressful. Mindfulness also improves emotion regulation making the mother better able to be in touch with her emotions yet react to them adaptively and effectively. Mindfulness helps the mother maintain her health and well-being, and to recover quicker should she become ill. After all, mothers can’t take sick leave or take vacations.

 

The essential capacity developed in mindfulness training is paying much greater attention to what’s occurring in the present moment. This can be of immense help to the mother. It makes her better attuned to her child’s and to her own needs. It reduces rumination and recriminations about past mistakes. It tends to diminish the worry and anxiety about the future. It helps her to focus on what needs to be done now, making her much more effective. And it helps her to experience the joys of motherhood to their fullest. In general, by focusing on now, she is tuned into the only time that matters for herself or her child, improving her relationship with reality, dealing with its problems and relishing its wonders.

 

Hence, mindfulness can make mothering better, both for the mother, and the child. So, on this important day of celebration of mothers, let’s adopt mindfulness and make it a part of our relationship with our mothers and our children. We may all love our mothers but we love mindful mothers even more especially when we ourselves are mindful.

 

“For me, the program gave me the freedom to be the kind of mom I wanted to be, instead of just reacting automatically. I still have difficult moments, and can get stressed out, but the mindfulness helps me stay centered and stay connected to myself and my baby.”Cassandra Vieten

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies