A pilot study of a group-based perinatal depression intervention on reducing depressive symptoms and improving maternal-fetal attachment and maternal sensitivityedit
To conduct a pilot study of a group-based perinatal depression intervention, the Mothers and Babies Course, on depressive symptomatology, maternal-fetal attachment, and maternal sensitivity, 60 pregnant women with moderate to severe depressive symptomatology were randomized to a 6-week intervention or usual care group at their initial prenatal care visit. Measures of depressive symptomatology and maternal-fetal attachment were collected at baseline and 36 weeks gestation. At 12 weeks postpartum, participants completed a measure of depressive symptomatology, and an objective measure of maternal sensitivity was collected. Participants randomized to the intervention group completed an average of 5.2 sessions, and 70% of women completed all six sessions. Exploratory analyses showed that at 12 weeks postpartum, participants randomized to the intervention group had an 8.32-point decrease from baseline on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) as compared to a 4.59-point decrease among participants randomized to usual care. Participants randomized to the intervention group had a mean change score of 12.60 in maternal-fetal attachment via the Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale (MFAS) as compared to 4.60 among participants in usual care. Maternal sensitivity scores, assessed via the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training-Feeding Scale (NCAST-Feeding), were higher at 12 weeks postpartum for women in the intervention group as compared to women in usual care (59.2 and 51.8, respectively). Our pilot study findings provide preliminary support for the benefits of a perinatal depression intervention, delivered in a group setting, on reducing depressive symptomatology, and improving maternal-fetal attachment and maternal sensitivity. Further research, conducted with larger samples, is necessary to determine the effect of this intervention on indicators of maternal attachment.