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Mindfulness in antenatal classes: A quasi-experimental pilot study

Pregnancy is a major life transition, and entails high levels of change and uncertainty which, for some parents, can elicit anxiety and distress. Mindfulness practices may help people to cope with uncertainty and change. This study explores whether adding mindfulness to antenatal classes is acceptable and helpful for mothers and fathers, and whether participants use these skills during pregnancy, birth, and the early postnatal period. It also explores whether it is feasible to incorporate mindfulness into an existing comprehensive antenatal education curriculum. The study compared the experiences of participants in two sets of antenatal classes with the same curriculum, except for the addition of a brief weekly mindfulness exercise and associated handout for one of the two groups. The two-hour classes were run over six weeks for pregnant women in their third trimester and their partners. Two separate trials were carried out consecutively – Trial A and Trial B. Trial A included 23 participants in the intervention group and 15 in the comparison group. Thirty-eight people were in the Trial B intervention group and 32 in the comparison group. However, practical barriers led to the Trial B intervention being minimally delivered and therefore data from Trial B were not analysed. Pre-intervention and post-intervention questionnaires measured pregnancy-related anxiety, psychological distress, and mindfulness. Acceptability of the mindfulness intervention and satisfaction with the antenatal classes was measured post-intervention. Psychological distress, mindfulness, and overall birth experience were measured one-month postnatally. Findings showed no statistically significant reductions in psychological distress or pregnancy-related anxiety for either group. There were also no significant increases in mindfulness. Although not statistically significant, participants in the mindfulness group may have had a slightly better birth experience; however, this is difficult to establish with certainty. People in the mindfulness group generally enjoyed the classes overall and reported having learned some useful skills; however, most did not practice mindfulness outside of class. The results of this pilot study suggest that it may be feasible to incorporate mindfulness into typical antenatal classes if adaptations are made so that it can be more smoothly integrated into the existing curriculum. Further research is needed into the feasibility of mindfulness in antenatal classes using a mindfulness programme which addresses the challenges identified in this study. This may have implications for the potential inclusion of brief mindfulness interventions across a variety of health and social settings.
Type of thesis
Irving, T. A. (2020). Mindfulness in antenatal classes: A quasi-experimental pilot study (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13528
The University of Waikato
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