"These results provide the first evidence that changes in optimistic expectancies are accompanied by changes in immunity, as well as the first evidence for a mechanism by which this effect occurs. Changes in expectancies about law school predicted changes in cellular immune function, and this relationship could be partially accounted for by positive but not negative affect. The results support the validity of psychological interventions to improve immunity and health (e.g., Andersen et al., 2007) and suggest that efforts to correct irrationally pessimistic expectancies may be warranted, particularly if these efforts also increase positive affect".
Interestingly, the authors conclude:
"Although optimistic expectancies are associated with both increased positive affect and decreased negative affect, it may be as important for immunological health for people to be happy as it is for them to lack anxiety".
That song "Don't worry, be happy" was on the mark!
Of course, childbearing women do have 'worries' and their anxieties can be alleviated by having a midwife to journey through their experience with. Midwives can provide a sounding board and provide information and a safe space where worries and fears can be explored; strategies for self management developed and worries dissipated. In such a supportive environment, women's cell-mediated immunity is obviously improved, which would 'fit' with the reduced numbers of women experiencing pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature labour that is associated with 1-2-1 midwifery care.
Optimistic Expectancies and Cell-Mediated Immunity — Psychological Science