A mindfulness intervention to reduce maternal distress in neonatal intensive care: a mixed methods pilot study

Tamar Mendelson, Ciara McAfee, April Joy Damian, Amitoj Brar, Pamela Donohue, Erica Sibinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Mothers with an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are at risk for depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms, with negative implications for maternal-infant bonding, maternal well-being, and infant development. Few interventions to promote NICU mothers’ mental health, however, have been developed or tested. This pre-post pilot study assessed feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a mindfulness intervention for NICU mothers. Twenty-seven mothers were recruited from a university NICU and offered a mindfulness intervention via introductory video and audio-recorded practices. Participants completed a baseline self-report survey. After 2 weeks of engaging with intervention materials, participants completed a second survey and in-depth interview. Quantitative data were analyzed using paired t tests; qualitative data were analyzed using thematic coding. Twenty-four women (89%) completed the study. Quantitative data indicated significant improvements in depressive, anxiety, and trauma symptoms, negative coping, NICU-related stress, and sleep (p < 0.05). Qualitative data identified themes of perceived improvements in psychological distress and stress symptoms, self-care, and relationships. Findings support the mindfulness intervention’s feasibility, acceptability, and potential promise for reducing maternal distress and promoting well-being. Use of video and audio modalities may facilitate program sustainability and scale up. Further research on the program is merited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-799
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Maternal distress
  • Maternal well-being
  • Mindfulness
  • Neonatal intensive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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