Study of Pregnant Japanese Women in the U.S. Proves Social Support Can Lower Depression and Anxiety

A recent study led by the Family Medicine Department in the U-M Medical School, that appears in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, confirmed a long held belief of mine: pregnant women who participate in support groups fare better in reducing the rates of depression and anxiety which are typically associated with this milestone period of their lives.

Although the research was conducted with Japanese women who spoke limited English and were newcomers to this country, I’m certain similar results would be obtained for other pregnant women — no matter their origin or culture — who are far from family or feel isolated.

Because a family medicine group conducted the research, it’s not surprising that the physicians call for more involvement by their specialty in organizing prenatal groups. Not only might this attract more patients, but also it would “enhance the experience for both pregnant women and their care providers.”

Among the topics discussed in the prenatal group visits were: nutrition, labor, breastfeeding and newborn care. The family medicine group was happy to learn that this ability to connect with peers lasted beyond the birth of their children. “A year later, several moms stayed friends and continued to share issues that came up with their babies,” the study said. “These group visits connected women with shared experiences, allowing them to get the story from each other, not from lectures.”

In the study, once a month, six to 12 women met for the two-hour prenatal group visits. Participants could take each other’s blood pressures and record notes in notebooks, encouraging them to take control of their own pregnancy.

The groups “also discussed personal goals, nutrition, exercise, pregnancy-related discomfort and relaxation techniques, danger signs and flow of labor and delivery, birth planning, car seat instruction, breastfeeding, baby care and postpartum care.”

And the best findings of the study, “overall depression, anxiety and stress scores were low.” Perhaps the next step is to establish support groups for all pregnant women to see how this affects the incidence of perinatal mood and anxiety.


~ by ppdsus on December 6, 2013.

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