Evaluating the impact of sling provision and training upon maternal mental health, wellbeing and parenting: A randomised feasibility trial

WIGGLESWORTH, Helen, HUDDY, Vyv, KNOWLES, Rosie and MILLINGS, Abigail (2023). Evaluating the impact of sling provision and training upon maternal mental health, wellbeing and parenting: A randomised feasibility trial. PLOS ONE, 18 (11): e0293501.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0293501


Background Close body contact interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care have been shown to improve maternal mental health following birth. Infant carriers (‘slings’) facilitate hands-free close body contact. No studies have specifically examined whether sling use improves maternal mental health. A full-scale efficacy study is needed to examine whether sling use is beneficial to maternal mental health. The current study is a feasibility study designed to gather information to support the design of a future RCT, such as acceptability and study parameters, including recruitment rates, consent rate and attrition. Method Mothers of infants aged 0–6 weeks were randomised to one of two conditions: intervention (n = 35) vs. waitlist control (n = 32). Intervention participants received sling training, support, and free sling hire for 12 weeks. Participants completed self-report measures of mood, wellbeing and parenting at baseline (Time 1), and 6- (Time 2) and 12- (Time 3) weeks post-baseline. Results Eligibility and consent rates met feasibility objectives, though there were some difficulties with retention of participants in the study. Preliminary effectiveness analyses showed a non-significant improvement with a small effect size in postnatal depression from T1 to T3, and a significant improvement with a medium effect size in maternal self-efficacy from T1 to T3. Qualitative feedback indicated acceptability of the intervention and study participation. Intervention participants attributed greater autonomy, bonding with their baby, and parental self-confidence, to the intervention. Conclusions These findings indicate a randomised study of the impact of a sling and related support intervention upon maternal mental health is feasible. These findings should be interpreted within the context of sampling bias (due to the use of volunteer sampling methods), an absence of feedback from those who discontinued participation in the study, and the study not being adequately powered.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: General Science & Technology
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0293501
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2023 15:26
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2023 15:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32666

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