After a survey revealed that nearly three-quarters of those who were pregnant during the pandemic had moderate to high levels of discomfort, and one in five suffered depressive symptoms, a group of researchers advised that additional mental health assistance for pregnant women is needed.
The findings of the study appeared in the journal titled ‘Canadian Family Physician’.
The researchers, led by clinicians at Unity Health Toronto, surveyed nearly 1,500 participants online – 87 per cent of whom were Canadian – who had been pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly 69 per cent of respondents reported moderate to high levels of distress and 20 per cent had depressive symptoms.
“The high levels of distress highlight the importance of considering mental health centrally in support for this population,” said Dr Tali Bogler, study lead author and family physician and chair of family medicine obstetrics at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto.
“The findings also highlight the overall impact the pandemic has had on families in general and the downstream impact this will have,” added Dr Bogler.
A limitation of the study was that it did not have comparable data on distress levels among pregnant people prior to the pandemic. However, a population-based survey conducted in Japan before the pandemic found 28 to 32 per cent of pregnant people reported distress.
Researchers also sought to learn more about what the common sources of concern were for expectant parents during the pandemic. Participants were provided with a list of 27 concerns and asked to indicate their level of concern for each issue.
The top five concerns during pregnancy included: hospital policies regarding support persons in labour; not being able to introduce their baby to loved ones; getting sick from Covid-19 while pregnant; not being able to rely on family or friends after labour for support; and conflicting medical information on Covid-19 in pregnancy and newborns, especially early in the pandemic.