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Mindfulness in maternity: Evaluation of a course for midwives

02 March 2016
12 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 3


Stress and burnout are endemic in the NHS and the midwifery profession, having a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of individual midwives and on retention and recruitment for the profession as a whole. Stress can also have a negative impact on the care of women as midwives seek to manage their stress levels by employing strategies such as task orientation. As part of a larger project to engage staff in personal and workplace wellbeing, the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust maternity services provided staff with the opportunity to learn the practice of mindfulness meditation. An 8-week course was made available with the intention of supporting staff to manage stress and anxiety, increase resilience and self-compassion, and improve the culture of the organisation as a whole. Evaluations carried out immediately post-course and after 4–6 months indicated a positive impact in both personal and organisational domains.

There is increasing literature to suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may address a variety of psychological problems (e.g. Grossman et al, 2004; Dimidjian and Goodman, 2009; Duncan and Bardacke, 2010; Dunn et al, 2012; Liu et al, 2013; Surawy et al, 2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a particularly helpful intervention for stress (Shapiro et al, 2005; Chiesa and Serretti, 2009). As well as its impact on specific problems, mindfulness has been shown to have an effect on underlying emotional and social skills; these include the ability to feel in control, to manage difficult feelings, and to be calm, resilient, compassionate and empathic (Baer, 2003; Salmon et al, 2004; Jha et al, 2007; Chambers et al, 2008; Zeidan et al, 2010).

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