Introduction: Anxiety is one of prevalent mental disorders in pregnant women and causes alteration in autonomic nervous system (ANS) function and cardiovascular system adaptation. It could potentially lead to increased risk of maternal complications and morbidity. SEFT had been known to lower anxiety level and autonomic nervous system activity but its application in pregnant women is still debated. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the effectiveness of SEFT in primipara women.
Method: a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent control group study was conducted in Bantul District, Yogyakarta, Indonesia involving primipara who fulfilled the research criteria. SEFT was performed at the 9th month of pregnancy and 1 week before the estimated date of delivery. LF/HF ratio was assessed and compared in the two groups as representation of HRV and autonomic nervous activity.
Results: 62 primiparous women were enrolled in this study and divided equally to the intervention and control group. This study showed that the LF/HF ratio was already different between the two groups at the beginning of the study. However, while the mean of LF/HF ratio was decreasing in the intervention group, an increasing trend was observed in the control group. Finally, the comparison of the mean difference between the two groups revealed that SEFT significantly lowered the ratio of LF/HF in primipara, thus improving the HRV.
Conclusion: SEFT effectively lowered LF/HF ratio in primipara women which might indicate a better balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve responses. However, further study should be conducted to validate the application of SEFT in pregnant women with anxiety.