[IMG alt="When it comes to giving birth, does "mind over matter" really work? Researchers say that maybe it does!"]http://www.mothering.com/articles/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/mindful-pregnancy.jpg[/IMG]Mindfulness-based approaches have become increasingly popular within healthcare, but when it comes to giving birth, does "mind over matter" really work? Researchers say that maybe it does!

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published the study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

They suggest that moms who attend mindfulness-based preparation classes aimed to address the fear and pain of childbirth may have a better birthing experience. Equally exciting, these moms may be less likely to experience postpartum depression.

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Over 3.9 million women give birth each year in the U.S. For many, the anticipation of childbirth creates fear. Unaddressed, this fear can contribute to a challenging birth experience that may extend well beyond the clamping of the cord. According to the authors, childbirth fear is linked to lower labor pain tolerance and worse postpartum adjustment.

"Fear of the unknown affects us all, and perhaps none more so than pregnant women," said lead author Larissa Duncan. "With mindfulness skills, women in our study reported feeling better able to cope with childbirth and they experienced improved mental well-being critical for healthy mother-infant adjustment in the first year of life."

The double-blind study entitled, "The Prenatal Education About Reducing Labor Stress" (PEARLS) randomly assigned 30 pregnant women in their third trimester to one of two groups. Half of the women would attend a standard childbirth education class with no mind-body focus while the other half would participate in an intensive weekend workshop called "Mind In Labor (MIL): Working with Pain in Childbirth."

In addition to standard childbirth preparation topics, participants in the mindfulness workshop received education on topics such as meditation, yoga, and breathing.

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The study findings revealed that women who participated in the mindfulness-based class utilized less opioid pain medication during labor. Additionally, while depression symptoms worsened for women who took the standard childbirth education classes, there was a reduction in depression for those who had taken the MIL class.

While a majority of pregnant women attend childbirth education courses, there is little evidence that the information gained is helpful. In fact, some women report experiencing increased fear as a result of the information received in their classes.

While this small pilot study had several limitations, the results are encouraging. By teaching mindfulness techniques, women feel more empowered and less fearful. As a result, they are better able to cope with the myriad of physical and emotional issues that arise during pregnancy and birth.

While birth may not always go as planned, mindfulness may be a powerful tool to utilize during pregnancy, birth, and beyond.