Even before the pandemic, we knew that 1 in 10 women develop a mental health condition during pregnancy or within the first year of having a baby. But for the first time, research from over 60 organisations working on the frontline has been brought together to investigate the impact of the pandemic on maternal mental health.
A new report was released today by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) who commissioned the research, which was conducted by the Centre for Mental Health. The results from the study show that women have faced greater likelihood of poor mental health during and after pregnancy throughout the pandemic. Poor mental health can include feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.
How has Covid-19 affected maternal mental health?
The report shows that as the pandemic progressed, there was an increased risk to the mental wellbeing of pregnant women and new mums at such an emotionally challenging time. It also showed that women of colour and women from poorer economic backgrounds are more likely to experience mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
The research shows that access to crucial services reduced for pregnant women, new mums and babies across the UK, especially during the early stages of the pandemic. And while health and care staff worked hard to deliver safe care, significant gaps emerged. Women also experienced a reduction in informal support from friends, relatives and networks of other women sharing their experiences.
Extra pressures also included anxiety about giving birth during lockdown without their partners, fears of losing jobs, heightened levels of domestic violence, bereavement, worries about catching Covid-19, and concern about new babies catching the disease.
You can read the full report and the findings here.
The potential impact on dads and partners is also highlighted, particularly regarding increased concerns around missing pregnancy milestones and supporting their partner.