Antenatal interventions to reduce maternal distress: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials

Y.J. Fontein-Kuipers*, M.J. Nieuwenhuijze, M. Ausems, L. Budé, R. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

63 Citations (Web of Science)


Background Maternal distress can have adverse health outcomes for mothers and their children. Antenatal interventions may reduce maternal distress. ObjectiveTo assess the effectiveness of antenatal interventions for the reduction of maternal distress during pregnancy and for up to 1year postpartum. Search strategyEBSCO, Medline, PubMed, Cochrane, secondary references of Cochrane reviews and review articles, and experts in the field. Selection criteriaRandomised controlled trials in which the association between an antenatal intervention and the reduction of maternal distress was reported. Data collection and analysisTwo authors independently abstracted data from each trial. A random-effects meta-analysis assessed the reduction of maternal distress associated with antenatal preventive and treatment interventions, compared with routine antenatal care or another intervention. Main resultsTen trials with 3167 participants met the inclusion criteria, and nine trials (n=3063) provided data for the meta-analysis of six preventive interventions and three treatment interventions. The preventive interventions indicated no beneficial reduction of maternal distress (six trials; n=2793; standardised mean difference, SMD -0.06; 95% confidence interval, 95%CI -0.14-0.01). The treatment interventions indicated a significant effect for the reduction of maternal distress (three trials; n=270; SMD -0.29; 95%CI -0.54 to -0.04). A sample of women, selected retrospectively, who were more vulnerable for developing maternal distress showed a significant reduction of maternal distress after the interventions (three trials; n=1410; SMD -0.25; 95%CI -0.37 to -0.14). Author's conclusionsPreventive antenatal interventions for maternal distress show no effect. Antenatal interventions for women who have maternal distress or are at risk for developing maternal distress are associated with a small reduction in maternal distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-397
Number of pages9
JournalBjog-an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Interventions
  • midwifery
  • mental health
  • maternal distress
  • pregnancy
  • public health

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