Effective interventions are needed to mitigate effects of stress and anxiety from conception and up to two years postpartum (the first 1000 days), but it is unclear what works, for what populations and at what time points. This review aimed to synthesise evidence from existing reviews of the effects of stress and anxiety interventions.
A systematic review of systematic reviews was conducted. PsycINFO, CINAHL, MEDLINE and the Cochrane databases were searched (inception to January 2020). Reviews were eligible if they examined effects of interventions during the first 1000 days on women's stress and/or anxiety. Extracted data were narratively synthesised. Review quality was assessed using existing recommendations including the AMSTAR tool .
Thirty-four reviews were eligible for inclusion; 21 demonstrated high methodological quality. Cognitive behavioural therapy demonstrates some beneficial effects for anxiety across the first 1000 days for general and at-risk populations. Support-based interventions demonstrate effects for stress and anxiety for at-risk mothers in the postpartum. Music, yoga and relaxation demonstrate some effects for stress and anxiety, but studies are limited by high risk of bias.
Existing evidence is inconsistent. Cognitive behavioural therapy and support-based interventions demonstrate some benefits. Further methodologically and conceptually robust research is needed.