Spring is right around the corner and many of us are hoping that with the COVID numbers decreasing, we will be able to get back to normal life. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball that can tell us whether or not the pandemic will be coming to an end soon. The COVID pandemic has drastically changed our lives and some of those changes may lead to effects that carry on for years.
Research suggests that women who are pregnant or postpartum experience increased levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, increased levels of distress could have effects on the women, fetus, and baby’s health and development. Research completed prior to the pandemic showed evidence that pregnant and postpartum women that have mental health problems may impact not only the woman’s health but also her baby.
The research was conducted by surveying over six thousand pregnant and postpartum women during the pandemic. The research showed that 31% of the women had increased levels of anxiety and depression, 53% reported loneliness, and 43% reported PTSD due to COVID. This data was compared to similar data that was recorded before the COVID pandemic. The comparison showed that psychological distress was significantly higher.
Dr. Karestan Koenen, one of the researchers of the study said, “We expected to see an increase in the portion of pregnant and postpartum women reporting mental health distress, as they are likely to be worried or have questions about their babies’ health and development, in addition to their own or their family’s health. However, the number of women who had significantly elevated symptoms was much larger than what had previously been published during the pandemic.”
Similar research was conducted by Stanford researchers. They studied pregnant women before and after COVID caused lockdowns in California. Their pre-pandemic research showed that one in four pregnant women showed signs of depression which is approximately 25%. When studied again after the lockdown occurred, that data rose to 50% of pregnant women showing signs of depression.
Graduate student and researcher Lucy King stated, “Because depression in pregnancy may affect the developing fetus as well as the relationship between the mother and the infant after birth, these effects are unlikely to cease when the pandemic ends.” Senior researcher Dr. Ian Gotlib said, “Studies like this are helpful in highlighting pregnancy in particular as a critical period to make sure women have support. That support is not just to get women through their pregnancy, but to help with their future health and the health and development of their children.”
To read more on these research studies, visit:
Pregnant and postpartum women report elevated depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress during COVID-19 pandemic from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Stress during pregnancy doubled during pandemic from Stanford News
Hadhazy, A. (2021, May 31). Stress during pregnancy doubled during pandemic. Stanford News. Retrieved March 12, 2022, from https://news.stanford.edu/2021/06/01/stress-pregnancy-doubled-pandemic/
Rura, N. (2021, May 5). Pregnant and postpartum women report elevated depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress during COVID-19 pandemic. News. Retrieved March 12, 2022