According to a new study by scientists at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, simple mindfulness training (being aware of current thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, and practicing acceptance of experiences without evaluation or reaction to them) reduces women’s fear of childbirth, thereby increasing the likelihood of natural birth and reducing the need for a cesarean section.
The study involved 140 couples who were pregnant and their partners. The couples were divided into two groups: the first received mindfulness training and the second received counseling from a specialist on the fear of childbirth.
Researchers assessed the women’s anxiety about childbirth using a questionnaire and then used the participants’ medical records to determine how they gave birth.
A study published in the scientific journal Birth showed that excessive fear of childbirth decreased by 36% in the group of women who received mindfulness training. In addition, participants in the mindfulness group were 36% less likely to use epidural anesthesia and 51% more likely to give birth naturally, without a cesarean section.
The use of cesarean section during childbirth has increased significantly around the world. Of course, this is a good thing for women’s access to emergency medical care, but it is a concern when a woman does not need a C-section procedure. A cesarean section always involves risks to the health of the mother and the baby. It increases the risk of complications in the subsequent pregnancy, and babies born with the procedure have an increased risk of allergic-immunological problems, asthma, and obesity later in life,- says Irena Veringa, one of the authors of the study
The scientists believe their work will help improve obstetric care during pregnancy and childbirth.