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How a positive mindset can change childbirth, postpartum experience: study


A person's mindset and attitude going into childbirth can influence both the birthing and postpartum experiences, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology on March 14, found if those who are pregnant see childbirth as a natural process, they are less likely to need pain medication or a caesarean section.

Researchers conducted the analysis with around 300 women, where respondents were asked about their personality traits such as anxiety, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. It also surveyed the mindset of respondents during the pregnancy.

"Mindsets can be understood as a kind of mental lens that guides our perception of the world around us and can influence our behaviour," Dr. Lisa Hoffmann, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bonn, said in the study's press release.

In this case, childbirth was seen through two lenses, one where a person can manage the birth without medical aids or, in contrast, childbirth was seen as a "risky event" that requires medical supervision, pain relief and episiotomy.

Just before the birth, researchers checked in to understand if any risks had come up and where the birth would take place. After the birth, the women would reflect on their experience using a diary to note topics such as their well-being, breastfeeding, and later symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress.

What the researchers found was some of the participants would view birth as a "natural process" or a "medical event." Depending on how the birth is perceived by the individual, it can impact whether they have a positive or negative mindset, Hoffmann said.

"However, this does not mean that there is a 'good' (natural) and a 'bad' (medical) mindset," the psychologist stated.

The women who viewed childbirth as a natural process needed less medical intervention during delivery, the study found, and as a result, had a "positive birth experience."

"Weeks later, they showed lower levels of depression or post-traumatic stress," the study reads.

Hoffmann said understanding how pregnant people view childbirth will aid others to support peoples’ different mindsets and enable them to have a positive and "self-determined birthing experience."

The study says when there are fewer medical interventions at birth, the result is positive and, in turn, impacts the well-being of the parent and child, which can create a secure bonding experience later.

"However, the mindset cannot predict the bonding to the child six months after birth," Hoffmann said, explaining further studies are needed to understand the link between mindset at birth as a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Top Stories

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