• exercise support program;
  • postnatal depression;
  • randomized controlled trial

ABSTRACT: Background: Depression during the perinatal period should be identified as early as possible to avoid negative effects on the new family. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an exercise support program on reducing psychological morbidity after childbirth. Methods: A controlled trial was conducted in a regional hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. Eighty primiparas with an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score above 10 at 4 weeks postpartum agreed to participate. They were allocated alternately to an intervention (to receive exercise support) and control group (to receive standard care) at 6 weeks postpartum. The exercise support consisted of 1 hour per week at the hospital and two sessions at home for 3 months. Sixty-three primiparas finished the exercise support program. The main outcome measure was the EPDS score at 5 months postpartum. Results: Women who received the exercise support program were less likely to have high depression scores after childbirth when compared with the control group. Conclusions: The exercise support program given to postpartum women appeared to benefit their psychological well-being. This promising finding should be tested in a well-designed randomized controlled trial. (BIRTH 35:1 March 2008)