Objective: To evaluate the effects of an integrated childbirth education intervention on reducing childbirth fear, anxiety, and depression, and improving dispositional mindfulness. Design: A two-arm parallel, single-blind randomised controlled trial. Setting: A teaching hospital in Northern Taiwan. Participants: Pregnant women ≥ 20 years of age with a singleton pregnancy (12–24 weeks gestation) and their support partners were recruited. All women included in the study had a score of ≥ 7 points on a fear of childbirth visual analogue scale. Interventions: The intervention group (n = 53) received an 8-week course in a childbirth education programme, which included (1) childbirth education using simulation-based learning that highlighted coping with labour pain and (2) instruction in mindfulness breathing, body scans, stretching, sitting meditation, and mindfulness walking. Support partners were invited to participate. The control group (n = 53) received the usual standard prenatal care. Measurements: The primary outcome of fear of childbirth was assessed using the Wijma Delivery Expectancy/Experience Questionnaire. The secondary outcomes of anxiety, depression, and dispositional mindfulness were assessed with the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Scale, and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, respectively. Repeated data were collected at baseline, 36 weeks gestation, and 1 week postpartum. Findings: Ninety-one mothers completed the study, with a mean age of 33.9 years (SD = 4.4), and most were primipara (n = 83). The baseline measurements did not differ between the groups. Compared with the control group, there were significant differences in all measures from baseline for the intervention group: the scores were significantly lower for fear of childbirth (mean difference (MD) =-14.8 ∼ -23.7, p < .01), symptoms of anxiety (MD =-7.4 ∼ -6.4, p < .01), and depression (MD =-3.7 ∼ -3.5, p < .01); the levels of dispositional mindfulness were significantly higher (MD =4.9 ∼ 5.7, p < .01) at 36 weeks gestation, and 1 week postpartum. Conclusion and implications for practice: The 8-week integrated childbirth education intervention was effective in reducing the fear of childbirth in pregnant women. The mindfulness techniques were easily learnt and applied by the participants. Using these techniques during pregnancy and labour enhanced participants’ mental health and coping. The integrated childbirth education which includes pregnant women and their support partners could be easily taught by midwives in other contexts.
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