Can Mindfulness Reduce Fear of Labor and Postpartum Depression?

Can Mindfulness Reduce Fear of Labor and Postpartum Depression?

Anxiety about labor is a problem for many expecting mothers. For many, it’s the sense of the unknown, or the many promises of pain heard in story after story about a labor that can cause anxiety. Anxiety can prolong labor by 47 minutes or more, leading to a wide array of complications that can make the entire process of labor more dangerous.

Dr. Larissa Duncan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been running studies which suggest mindfulness can be a useful counter to this problem. She hypothesized that “mindfulness,” which is defined as paying attention to the present moment in a meaningful, non-judgmental way, could help future moms and dads with their anxiety issues, and set up a weekend program to teach useful mindfulness techniques. These techniques include things like meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques.

Woman using mindfulness techniques showed significant improvements in a number of categories. They were less likely to suffer from postnatal depression, and tended to be able to avoid using opiates during labor. The problem, however, is a matter of access. The programs Duncan and her associates offer are only available in the US, and while there are trained practitioners online, the expertise has yet to spread. Interested parties should search out relevant material online, as mindfulness can be useful in all aspects of life.

Key Points:

  • 1Statistics suggest that mothers who are anxious and fearful of the birthing process can prolong the ordeal by as much as 47 minutes.
  • 2The mental process uses breathing and other body-centered exercises to become purposely focused on the now, in a non-judgmental way.
  • 3Because the mental practice trains the person to be less reactive to stress and pain, it’s surmised the practice can help delivering mother’s better cope with labor pains.


The study showed women in the mindfulness group had lower scores for postnatal depression and were less likely to use opiates during labour, although the evidence comes from small pilot studies.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators.The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our health risk assessment, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

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