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Growing numbers of researchers and healthcare professionals have sounded the alarm about rising numbers of those affected by postpartum depression (PPD) with some calling it a national crisis. Earlier this year, Ariel Hill-Thomas, Clinical Research Coordinator, was featured on the Patients Come First Podcast about her role in one study that seeks to prevent PPD, Mindful Moms

“Postpartum depression is one of the most common complications of childbirth, affecting 10-20% of women,” explains Hill-Thomas. Social isolation and lack of access to perinatal support and resources have been shown to dramatically increase the likelihood of PPD. Additionally, significant racial-ethnic differences in depression-related mental health care after delivery persist, with women of color disproportionately affected. 

According to researchers, it is estimated that one out of every six women in the Richmond area experienced postpartum depression in the first year of the COVID pandemic.

To address factors that contribute to PPD, the Mindful Moms program uses a holistic approach through group-based self-management intervention. Focused on prevention of PPD in the second trimester (12-26 weeks), the program includes twelve weeks of yoga and perinatal education with virtual and in-person options for accessibility and flexibility. “[The Mindful Moms team is] trying to reduce the rate of PPD that contributes to pregnancy related deaths,” she says. Through yoga, participants practice mindfulness, acknowledge feelings of anxiety, and learn self-regulation through breathing exercises. “What we hope is that through [the sessions] women start feeling supported socially, and build communities that can help them get through the rest of their pregnancy. We are looking at social connectedness and how that helps with stress and anxiety during that time,” says Hill-Thomas.

The Mindful Moms project is rooted by clinical findings but draws on non-clinical methods to address them. “The great thing about nursing research is we come from all walks of life, and we take our clinical experience, things we have seen at the bedside, our personal experiences, and things we want to change, and turn this into an intervention for this specific population of women,” says Hill-Thomas. 

The Mindful Moms study is actively enrolling participants, especially community members that do not have access to yoga or perinatal education, and could benefit from improving tools to support a healthy pregnancy. For more information, visit the Mindful Moms site or follow them on social media using the buttons below.

ICYMI! (In Case You Missed It!) is a series of recommendations from students, faculty and staff of the VCU School of Nursing that includes must watch/read/listen to content on nursing topics.

Categories News, Research