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

02 December 2017
16 min read
Volume 25 · Issue 12

Abstract

Background

Both men and women can experience depressive or anxious episodes when transitioning to parenthood. Mindfulness interventions are one way to teach men coping strategies to manage these feelings.

Aim

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

Methods

A comprehensive search resulted in 157 articles. After applying defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, 2 original research papers remained. Thematic analysis identified five themes, the first three of which were discussed in Part I of this article.

Findings

Mindfulness based stress reduction strategies for men have been shown to be effective across a range of health issues, although there is little research during the perinatal period. Research suggests that men engaged in mindfulness based stress reduction in the perinatal period experienced better regulation of emotions and stress, and felt more present for their pregnant partners.

Conclusions

To improve men's wellbeing, innovative ways of providing perinatal mindfulness based stress reduction are needed. New or adapted mindfulness based stress reduction programmes are needed to improve men's awareness, empathy, self-esteem and psychological wellbeing to better support their pregnant partners.

Pregnancy is an important time of change, growth and stress, not only for the woman, but also for her partner, children and family (Duncan and Bardacke, 2010). The transition into parenthood can be perceived as a time of stress, which can be a catalyst for significant risks to health and wellbeing (Duncan and Bardacke, 2010). A systematic review examining the prevalence and course of anxiety disorders in men across the perinatal period concluded that a partner's pregnancy is one of the most anxious and stressful times that men experience (Leach et al, 2016). A lack of support for men during the perinatal period can exacerbate this anxiety and stress (Leach et al, 2016).

The emotional wellbeing of men with pregnant partners is central to supporting both the woman and the child (Bergstrom, 2013; Wynter et al, 2013). There is substantive evidence to show that high levels of stress are as prevalent for men as women in the perinatal period (Letourneau et al, 2012; BergstrÖm, 2013; Wynter et al, 2013). There is a paucity of literature, however, around specific antenatal programmes to support men in managing the stresses, life changes and challenges experienced both during their partners pregnancy and after the birth. One option for providing structured psychological support for men during the perinatal period, is training in the use of mindfulness techniques.

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