• mind-body intervention;
  • pregnancy;
  • stress reduction;
  • review


Objective:  To examine published evidence on the effectiveness of mind-body interventions during pregnancy on perceived stress, mood, and perinatal outcomes.

Data sources:  Computerized searches of PubMed, Cinahl, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library.

Study Selection:  Twelve out of 64 published intervention studies between 1980 and February 2007 of healthy, adult pregnant women met criteria for review.

Data extraction and synthesis:  Studies were categorized by type of mind-body modality used. Progressive muscle relaxation was the most common intervention. Other studies used a multimodal psychoeducation approach or a yoga and meditation intervention. The research contained methodological problems, primarily absence of a randomized control group or failure to adequately control confounding variables. Nonetheless, there was modest evidence for the efficacy of mind-body modalities during pregnancy. Treatment group outcomes included higher birthweight, shorter length of labor, fewer instrument-assisted births, and reduced perceived stress and anxiety.

Conclusions:  There is evidence that pregnant women have health benefits from mind-body therapies used in conjunction with conventional prenatal care. Further research is necessary to build on these studies in order to predict characteristics of subgroups that might benefit from mind-body practices and examine cost effectiveness of these interventions on perinatal outcomes.