Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health – www.jmwh.org
Authors: Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon, CNM, PhD, Shannon Abbott, RN, BSN, Rachel Hoehn, RN, BSN
Introduction: The postpartum period can be a challenging experience for many women as they adjust to the physical and social changes after childbirth. Mindfulness-based interventions have been developed for stress reduction in a variety of health contexts, including pregnancy. These interventions provide strategies that may help new mothers handle the physical, emotional, and relationship challenges of the postpartum period and increase acceptance of postpartum physical changes and body image. Limited research has explored whether women use skills learned in prenatal mindfulness classes for the postpartum experience and parenting. The purpose of this study was to explore women’s experience with mindfulness in the year after childbirth.
Methods: Twelve women who participated in a Mindfulness for Childbirth and Parenting course during pregnancy were interviewed be-tween 2 and 16 months postpartum. The semistructured interview guide included questions on how participants may have used mindful-ness to approach a variety of positive and negative postpartum experiences. Qualitative description methodology guided the research team to code the transcripts independently. The team met to review and achieve consensus in the development of codes, categories, and themes from the data.
Results: Four themes were identified in women’s postpartum experiences: 1) developing a new relationship with postpartum challenges, 2) formal practices of mindfulness to address postpartum challenges, 3) informal practices to address postpartum challenges, and 4) life-changing and transformative experiences. These themes showed a pathway by which participants used mindfulness skills to address postpartum challenges and to transform these challenges with a positive perspective.
Discussion: Mindfulness skills helped class participants cope with physical and emotional challenges postpartum and fostered positive meaningful relationships with partners and newborns. Findings have implications for future research on mindfulness-based interventions and the postpartum experience.
J Midwifery Womens Health 2018;00:1–8 c 2018 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.