The mental health crisis of expectant women in the UK: effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on prenatal mental health, antenatal attachment and social support

28Citations
Citations of this article
148Readers
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.

This article is free to access.

Abstract

Background: Pregnancy has been shown to be times in a woman’s life particularly prone to mental health issues, however a substantial percentage of mothers report subclinical perinatal mental health symptoms that go undetected. Experiences of prenatal trauma, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may exacerbate vulnerability to negative health outcomes for pregnant women and their infants. We aimed to examine the role of: 1) anxiety, depression, and stress related to COVID-19 in predicting the quality of antenatal attachment; 2) perceived social support and COVID-19 appraisal in predicting maternal anxiety and depression. Methods: A sample of 150 UK expectant women were surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions included demographics, pregnancy details, and COVID-19 appraisal. Validated measures were used to collect self-reported maternal antenatal attachment (MAAS), symptoms of anxiety (STAI), depression (BDI-II), and stress related to the psychological impact of COVID-19 (IES-r). Results: We found that the pandemic has affected UK expectant mothers’ mental health by increasing prevalence of depression (47%), anxiety (60%) and stress related to the psychological impact of COVID-19 (40%). Women for whom COVID-19 had a higher psychological impact were more likely to suffer from depressive (95% HDPI = [0.04, 0.39]) and anxiety symptoms (95% HPDI = [0.40, 0.69]). High depressive symptoms were associated with reduced attachment to the unborn baby (95% HPDI [-0.46, -0.1]). Whilst women who appraised the impact of COVID-19 to be more negative showed higher levels of anxiety (HPDI = [0.15, 0.46]), higher social support acted as a protective factor and was associated with lower anxiety (95% HPDI = [-0.52, -0.21]). Conclusions: The current findings demonstrate that direct experience of prenatal trauma, such as the one experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly amplifies mothers’ vulnerability to mental health symptoms and impairs the formation of a positive relationship with their unborn baby. Health services should prioritise interventions strategies aimed at fostering support for pregnant women.

Cite

CITATION STYLE

APA

Filippetti, M. L., Clarke, A. D. F., & Rigato, S. (2022). The mental health crisis of expectant women in the UK: effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on prenatal mental health, antenatal attachment and social support. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04387-7

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free