OBJECTIVE: Pregnancy and childbirth are associated with significant stressors, and excessive stress poses a threat to women’s mental and physical health, and well-being. In this study, we investigated the effect of participation in a single session of an exercise-based mother’s program with pair work in mitigating psychological and physiological stress responses in healthy postpartum women. Participants at home were defined as the control group and compared to the mothers who participated in the program.
METHODS: The subjects were 16 women, 2–12 months after delivery, who participated in a postpartum program. The 120 minute program included aerobic exercise using a balance ball, communication work with participants, and self-care (abdominal breathing, hip joint stretching). The Mood Check List-Short Form 2 was completed and salivary cortisol was measured before program (10:00 am, Time 1) and immediately after aerobic exercise (11:00 am, Time 2), and after the program (12:00 pm, Time 3). At baseline, the same measurements were made at the same time on a separate day at the homes of the research participants within one week after the program. Interactions and main effect were investigated using a repeated measures two-way analysis of variance (condition×time) for each indicator.
RESULTS: Significant interaction and main effect (condition×time) were seen in “Pleasantness” (P<0.001) and “Relaxation” (P<0.05); participating in the program, positive mood improve over time compared to the baseline. A significant main effect of time was seen in “Anxiety” (P<0.001), which was decreased with time in both conditions. Although salivary cortisol show a tendency to decreas gradually in both conditions, there was no significant change in salivary cortisol.
DISUCUSSION: It is possible an exercise-based mother program with communication work contribute to reducing psychological stress in postpartum women; increased pleasantness and relaxation.