COVID-19 has escalated depression and anxiety amongst pregnant women and new moms, study finds

Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted research that indicated that depression levels in pregnant women and new moms have increased by more than 16% since the COVID-19 pandemic started. According to WebMD, “more than 1 in 5 women reported significant levels of generalised anxiety. About 1 in 10 had post-traumatic stress disorder above the clinical threshold.”

The survey’s objective was so to research how the changes created by the pandemic are affecting women. From attending antenatal visits alone, birthing alone (depending on the country), and being unable to attend antenatal classes. All of these contribute to an expecting mother’s overall mental health during pregnancy. 

The postpartum phase becomes an equally difficult one, where women struggle to get as much support as they would under normal circumstances. The world has seen heartbreaking pictures of grandparents viewing their grandkids from the car and home windows. Motherhood became a sort of lonely experience under lockdown. 

Three strong emotions have overwhelmed mothers during this time:

  • Grief 
  • Loss 
  • Disappointment 

The health risk presented by the pandemic fuelled the anxiety that moms experienced during and after pregnancy. The fear of contracting the virus and infecting a child was heightened. 

Cindy Liu, the research author stated that “we know the perinatal period is already a time in which women are particularly vulnerable to mental health concerns.” Anything that poses any form of risk for pregnant women can escalate those issues. 

Tommy’s, a leading health information website, offers some practical tips on managing anxiety during pregnancy:

Be present 

This sounds like an easy task, but it is difficult to not worry about the future. But acknowledging what limited control we have allows us the capacity to manage what we can, and not fixate on an unknown future.  

Ask questions

Gynaecologist Dr. Zende advises women to ask their gynaes as many questions as possible. The fewer unanswered questions you have, the less likely you are to be anxious. 

Watch less news 

Current affairs news are a big source of anxiety for a lot of people. This is the case as well for pregnant and new moms. Try to find means to keep up to date with relevant news, but do not fixate on wanting to know every new update as it comes in. 

Rope in your family

Technology has allowed us to have online communities of people we care about. Women can still have and maintain relationships with friends and family, even if they can’t see each other. They can even be your eyes and ears for the outside world, updating you on important news that you should know. 

Take care of yourself

Your mental well-being also depends on how well you take care of yourself. You can continue or start creating an easy workout regimen, yoga, or a meditation schedule. It is also important to continue hydrating and eating well. 

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