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Mindfulness for men with pregnant partners: An integrative literature review (Part one)

02 November 2017
15 min read
Volume 25 · Issue 11

Abstract

Background

Men are as likely to suffer stressors associated with pregnancy as their pregnant partners, but are less likely to receive support. Mindfulness interventions are a possible way to enable men to manage and reduce stress that may provoke anger and depression.

Aim

This integrative review examined original research into using mindfulness as an intervention for men during the perinatal period.

Methods

Using the question, ‘Can mindfulness based stress reduction reduce stress in men with pregnant partners during the perinatal period?’, a comprehensive search retrieved 157 articles. Following defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, 2 original research papers were included in the review. Thematic analysis identified five themes, the first three of which will be discussed here.

Findings

Research suggests that men engaged in mindfulness-based stress reduction during the perinatal period experienced improvements in regulating emotions and handling stress, as well a deeper sense of connection with their pregnant partner.

Conclusion

To improve the wellbeing of men with pregnant partners, mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques are needed to help men to improve psychological wellbeing and better support their pregnant partners.

The transition to parenthood for men is commonly described as both stressful and challenging (Genesoni and Tallandini, 2009; Leach et al, 2016). While the traditional view of fathers as breadwinners and disciplinarians has transformed in recent decades to that of a more engaged and involved parental role, there is scant research on the impact on men's emotional wellbeing, the increased roles and responsibilities and how to support men during this time (Genesoni and Tallandini, 2009; Leach et al, 2016).

A literature review examining men's psychological transition during the perinatal period (Genesoni and Tallandini, 2009) revealed that the most stressful time for men during the perinatal period was while their partner was pregnant. During this time, men are thought to undergo a psychological re-organisation of the self (Genesoni and Tallandini, 2009). Leach et al (2016) suggested that male psychological distress in the antenatal period may be related to issues such as poor relationship satisfaction, financial burdens, and poor job quality, which intensify during pregnancy. The distress experienced by men could have detrimental effects on their pregnant partners, with women being twice as likely to experience anxiety and depressive disorders if their male partners have an anxiety-related disorder (Leach et al, 2016).

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