Around 40% of pregnant women and new mothers experience high levels of worry and anxiety, which can negatively affect their daily lives. Anxiety can be fuelled by negative thoughts about the future, such as worrying, ‘Will my baby be healthy?, or mulling over negative events from the past.

The research team, which is based at King’s College London, includes midwives, psychologists and service users. Drawing on what they have they learnt from previous research into anxiety, the team have produced a simple, online training programme called RELAX (REducing Levels of AnXiety) that aims to reduce anxiety and negative thinking in pregnant women and new mothers. 

Professor Colette Hirsch, a clinical psychologist at King’s College London, who is leading the study says:

We already know that this type of training reduces worry and anxiety in non-pregnant people. This study will find out whether the RELAX training helps to reduce worry and anxiety in pregnant women and new mothers.

Professor Collette Hirsch

Professor Colette Hirsch, a clinical psychologist, King’s College London

The study is a randomised controlled trial. Eligible pregnant women will be randomly invited to join one of two groups: the first receiving their usual maternity care plus the RELAX training, and the second group, their usual maternity care only. This allows the researchers to compare the two groups and see how effective the training is. Participants allocated to the RELAX training will complete 12 short online sessions over four weeks at a convenient time. Each session involves listening to short descriptions of everyday situations, imagining how the scenario may turn out and answering some questions. The aim is to help reduce patterns of repetitive negative thinking.  

Ophilia, who was involved in the development and testing of the RELAX training, describes her feelings of worry during pregnancy:

I used to worry a lot in my pregnancy. Is the baby okay? Am I eating the right things for my baby? It was just constant worry, constant thinking.

Ophilia, who was involved in the development and testing of the RELAX training

Describing her experience of using the RELAX training, Ophilia says: “To be honest, I absolutely loved it. I loved it because it was something that helped me with my anxiety a lot.”

Take part in the study

If you are 16-28 weeks pregnant and find that worry is a problem for you, please complete our questionnaire to find out if you are eligible to take part in the study at

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