Changes in social contact may have affected well-being of pregnant women

February 3, 2022
Changes in social contact may have affected well-being of pregnant women

Research conducted at the University of Essex revealed the protective effect of social support on expectant mothers’ mental health, especially against symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused a notable spike in depression and anxiety in expectant mothers not surprisingly due to changes to maternity services forced by lockdown measures and other restrictions.

The UK study of 150 women highlighted a spike in reported depression rates from 17% to 47%, with anxiety rates also jumping up from 37% to 60% in expectant mothers. The study was carried out during height of the coronavirus crisis between April 2020 and January 2021 — before the national vaccination programme rolled out.

Besides the prenatal trauma experienced, which can significantly amplify vulnerability to mental health problems, the study also showed that pregnant women with higher depressive symptoms felt less attached to their unborn babies.

“While this result is in line with previous observations that women’s mood during pregnancy influences the early relationship with her child, it reinforces the need for authorities to support women throughout their pregnancy and the postnatal period in order to protect their health and their infants’ development,” said psychology lecturer Dr. Silvia Rigato.

Help from partners, family and friends, and the National Health Service (NHS) was then a crucial protective factor  with regards to expectant mothers’ mental health, according to the study, and was associated with fewer negative symptoms.

Dr. Rigato concluded that it was vital to “protect maternal wellbeing during pregnancy and beyond,” and “to ensure that all children, and their new families, are given the best possible start in life.”


Category: Education, Features

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