Life Style

US women experienced increased pregnancy stress during pandemic: Study

ANI | March 17, 2021 02:48 PM
Representative image

Washington [US], March 17 (ANI): COVID-19 has created new problems for pregnant women in the United States, a group that already faced the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world even before the pandemic, suggested the findings of recent research.

One of their biggest concerns is their baby contracting the disease, according to a Washington State University study published recently in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. Some women expressed fears that simply going to the hospital to deliver would cause them to get the virus and then be forced to isolate themselves from their newborn.

"Pregnant women are really stressed about contracting COVID-19," said lead author Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, vice chancellor for research at WSU Health Sciences Spokane. "They have a lot of questions for their health care providers. There's a lot of we don't know yet, which is understandable, but it's especially stressful for the moms."

Researchers also found that the pandemic increased pregnant women's financial worries, made finding healthy food difficult and caused them to miss prenatal appointments. The study revealed even greater levels of stress and lack of social support among women of color and low-income pregnant women, highlighting an increase in health disparities that already existed prior to the pandemic.

"We know that prenatal stress impacts fetal development, so these are really big concerns," Barbosa-Leiker said.

For the study, the WSU research team analysed survey responses from more than 160 pregnant and post-partum women from April 28 to June 30, 2020. They collected both quantitative survey responses from the whole group and more in-depth qualitative responses from a sub-set of women.

In the study, 52 per cent of pregnant women and 49 per cent of postpartum women worried about their babies contracting COVID-19, and 46 per cent had sought extra information about COVID-19 protocols from the hospital where they had planned to deliver or had delivered, their babies.

In the qualitative portion of the survey, women reported many serious concerns. For example, a participant noted that their main concern during the pandemic was contracting COVID-19 and dying. Others worried about contracting the virus in the hospital when they delivered and that COVID-19 policies would force them to isolate from their newborn or keep their partners out of the birthing room. Barbosa-Leiker said hospitals had varying policies especially at the beginning of stay at home measures though the recommendation now is to keep babies and mothers together.

During the survey period, 27 per cent of pregnant women reported an inability to obtain healthy food and 25 per cent had missed prenatal appointments. Finances also emerged as a substantial issue: 19 per cent reported having their income reduced; 9 per cent had been laid off and another 10 per cent reported that someone in their household had lost their job.

Within the survey sample, the pregnant women appeared to be more stressed than post-partum women who had already delivered, as they were less likely to engage in healthy stress-coping behaviours, such as exercising, taking breaks from the news and making time to relax.

U.S. pregnant women already face more stressors than many of their peers in industrialised countries. According to a report from nine maternal mortality review committees, they have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and social and environmental stressors contribute to a U.S women's risk of dying within the first year of pregnancy.

Previous studies have also shown U.S. pregnant women have higher levels of anxiety and depression compared to Dutch women, and higher levels of psychological stress than British women - and this was before COVID-19.

The results of the recent WSU study reinforce the need for more resources and support for pregnant women, especially during the pandemic, Barbosa-Leiker said.

"Health care providers should continue to talk with moms about all their stressors as their mental health and emotional well-being is key during this time," she said. "Providers can keep resources on hand. For instance, if they learn there is job loss in the family, they could quickly refer them to wraparound services."

Other people can also provide more support but in a physically distanced way, Barbosa-Leiker said, as pregnant women and new mothers expressed a lot of guilt for keeping relatives, especially grandparents, away from the newborn.

"We heard a lot from our participants that they were stressed because they were afraid of offending family members," she said.

Barbosa-Leiker concluded, "Keeping in mind that new parents are doing everything they can to keep their baby and themselves safe and healthy, we should really try to support the parents' wishes about how they want to deal with visitors during the pandemic." (ANI)

Have something to say? Post your comment
Must Read
Randhawa terms Rs.1400 per quintal hike in DAP as anti-farmer step
Randhawa terms Rs.1400 per quintal hike in DAP as anti-farmer step
More than 1100 doses administered to industrial workforce at mobile vaccination camps: Deputy Commissioner
More than 1100 doses administered to industrial workforce at mobile vaccination camps: Deputy Commissioner
Punjab CM virtually kicks off 100% free travel facility for women in govt buses within state
Punjab CM virtually kicks off 100% free travel facility for women in govt buses within state
Punjab Cabinet okays time-to-time remission benefits for convicts instead of just once
Punjab Cabinet okays time-to-time remission benefits for convicts instead of just once
e-IPHMDP embolden partnership and mutual cooperation among ITEC nations: Vini Mahajan
e-IPHMDP embolden partnership and mutual cooperation among ITEC nations: Vini Mahajan
Bharat Bandh: Complete bandh in Kapurthala
Bharat Bandh: Complete bandh in Kapurthala
Punjab CM digitally orders mass transfers of 19905 school teachers under Teachers Transfer Policy-2019
Punjab CM digitally orders mass transfers of 19905 school teachers under Teachers Transfer Policy-2019
Immediately stop police deployment from BJP ruled states to WB: TMC to Chief Electoral Officer
Immediately stop police deployment from BJP ruled states to WB: TMC to Chief Electoral Officer
Punjab: 24 DSP officers Transferred
Punjab: 24 DSP officers Transferred
More economic worries mean less caution about COVID-19: Study
More economic worries mean less caution about COVID-19: Study
Renowned academician and researcher Dr. Buta Singh Sidhu joins as vice chancellor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University, Bathinda
Renowned academician and researcher Dr. Buta Singh Sidhu joins as vice chancellor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University, Bathinda
Cut chores, kill chill time: New advice to boost children's academic outcomes
Cut chores, kill chill time: New advice to boost children's academic outcomes