January 26, 2021
Adding a Mindfulness Component to Your Virtual Childbirth Classes Can Reduce Perinatal Mood Disorders
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 0 Comments
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are the most common complications of pregnancy. Postpartum baby blues affect approximately 75-80 percent of new parents who gave birth. 10% of partners will also experience a PMAD. If the postpartum parent is affected, the chance that the partner is also impacted with their own depressive or anxious situation is higher.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added significant additional stressors to the already highly charged time period of pregnancy and postpartum. Combine that additional stress with an increase in tele-health visits rather than in-person care, and often a longer time period between appointments than what was typical prior to the global pandemic, and there is now less opportunity to build a relationship, and screen for PMADs in this vulnerable population. We also know that Black, Indigenous and persons of color are more at risk of a PMAD situation even while they experience greater social, health and financial impacts from the COVID situation.
The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study, “Pandemic-related pregnancy stress and anxiety among women pregnant during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic” that found that anxiety and stress was more common than it had been before with the combined stressors of pregnancy and new parenting and the complications of dealing with COVID-19 pandemic concerns.
One of the ways that this increased stress and impact of PMADs can be moderated is by information, awareness and screening. Childbirth classes are a great source of all three of these components that contribute to lower PMAD rates. Unfortunately, the number of people currently attending childbirth classes is reduced due to restrictions on public gatherings and appropriate concerns for personal safety and health. People may not be aware that many childbirth classes have moved to virtual platforms and are still available.
In a 2019 study, “Benefits of preparing for childbirth with mindfulness training: a randomized controlled trial with active comparison” found that “mindfulness training that addresses fear and pain during childbirth can improve women's childbirth experiences and reduce their depression symptoms during pregnancy and the early postpartum period.”
Connecting the Dots has covered mindfulness before and spoken about ways that childbirth educators can incorporate this topic into their classes.
With the documented increase in PMADs during this global health crisis, now it is even more critical to dedicate time during virtual classes to laying the groundwork for expectant people to develop and practice mindfulness skills to help them during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period.
If you are not already doing so, consider introducing a mindfulness component to your virtual classes, share resources with families and make sure that they are fully aware of the importance of self screening themselves or screeening their partners for signs of a PMAD and provide national and local resources if they find themselves struggling. Even a Google search will bring up additional information and screening tools as Google has made a commitment to helping people who may be suffering from a PMAD.
Now is the time to lean in and work harder to protect people who are vulnerable during the childbearing year. A quick evaluation about what information you are providing to the families in your classes on the topic of screening and help for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is in order to be sure you are doing what you can to help.
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(1), 1-11.
Preis, H., Mahaffey, B., Heiselman, C., & Lobel, M. (2020). Pandemic-related pregnancy stress and anxiety among women pregnant during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM, 2(3).
TagsPostpartum depression Childbirth education Perinatal Depression Depression in Pregnancy Anxiety PMAD Sharon Muza PMADs Virtual Childbirth Classes Prenatal Anxiety Perinatal Anxiety