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Early motherhood experiences and evaluation of online meditation interventions for maternal distress: A qualitative study

Ashley, Rebecca (2020) Early motherhood experiences and evaluation of online meditation interventions for maternal distress: A qualitative study. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Background: High stress in pregnant women is common and places them at risk of developing mental illness, poorer birth outcomes, and can impact infant development and maternal bonding. Codesigned online meditation-based programs that consider maternal experiences of the perinatal period and protocol interventions are a potentially scalable intervention for at-risk perinatal populations.

Methods: Mothers reviewed online compassion or mindfulness-based inventions; they participated in focus groups around their experience of pregnancy and motherhood and of online meditation programs for pregnant women with distress. A qualitative approach using thematical analysis was employed to analyse data sets.

Results: A convenience sample of 16 mothers were recruited, 13 attended focus groups and completed written feedback, and five participated in follow up phone calls. Thematic analyses of group and individual data produced eight key themes: It's tough for most of us; no time or space for me as a mum; meditation helped me to calm; mediation was hard; valuing self-care; value for others; things that support practice; co-design input into program changes.

Discussion: Women perceived wellbeing benefits from reviewing intervention materials and reported the programs would be beneficial for pregnant women. Codesign and focus group processes aided engagement with intervention materials, normalised challenges of motherhood and meditations, and provided participants with a felt-sense of peer support.

Conclusions: Pregnancy is an opportune time to introduce accessible preventative online health interventions to reduce maternal distress. Online meditation interventions are potentially acceptable and beneficial for subclinical perinatal populations but should consider the need for social connection amongst participants. Meditation-based interventions for women in the perinatal period consisting of only informal practices warrant exploration.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): O'Donovan, Amanda and Finlay-Jones, A.
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