Mindfulness for African Americans Postpartum

Mindfulness for African Americans Postpartum

Research has shown that Black women who are new mothers have greater stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression than White women.  With funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing assistant professor Lindsey Garfield, PhD, RN, WHNP and her colleagues have created a culturally adapted mindfulness intervention to reduce stress, anxiety, and postpartum depression and increase mother-infant bonding in Black mothers.

Dr. Garfield is currently testing her invention in a randomized control trial comparing the culturally adapted mindfulness intervention with an educational control group.  “In the control group, we cover educational topics that are helpful for new moms, such as how to take care of your body postpartum, safe sex practices, how and what to feed your baby, how to put your newborn to sleep, and the milestones your baby will reach,” says Dr. Garfield. “Women in the mindfulness intervention group are taught stress reduction techniques and take part in mindfulness exercises, such as mindfulness eating and yoga.  The intervention group also discusses postpartum topics, but in a more collaborative way that allows the women to guide the conversations and talk about how Black culture influences new motherhood.”  

Women in both groups use video conferencing to meet for one hour each week for eight weeks.  They complete questionnaires about their mental health and how they are bonding with their babies at the beginning, middle, and end of the eight week program.  They also submit saliva samples to measure changes in stress and hormones.

“Having both the intervention and control group are key to understanding our results.  We need to determine if improvements in mental health and maternal-infant bonding are due to the group dynamics or the culturally influenced mindfulness component” says Dr. Garfield. “I predict women in the mindfulness intervention group will show the most improvement in their mental health.  I believe teaching Black mothers strategies and tangible concepts to reduce stress during the postpartum time period is a crucial piece of the puzzle.”

Thus far, 18 women have completed the study. Dr. Garfield hopes to enroll 30 additional women in the study before the end of the year. With the grant ending in the spring of 2024, she plans to publish her results by the summer.

To learn more about how Loyola Nursing is advancing nursing science and improving health, visit the research page on our website.