Master of Science
Frisbee, Stephanie J
The 2019 novel-coronavirus (COVID-19) may have increased feelings of stress and worry in pregnant women. This study investigated the impact of the pandemic on perceived stress and postpartum depressive symptoms, with potential implications for pregnancy outcomes. Women (n=44) who recently gave birth completed questionnaires at 6 weeks postpartum that assessed stress, social support, depressive symptoms, and COVID-19 impact. In summary, 31.8% of participants had high levels of perceived stress, 36.4% had possible postpartum depression, and perceived social support was significantly negatively associated with depressive symptoms. No significant associations were observed between different biological and socio-environmental factors and perceived stress or depressive symptoms. Lastly, this cohort’s prevalence of stress and depressive symptoms were higher than that observed in the 2007 Maternity Experiences Survey (MES)-Ontario cohort. In conclusion, pregnant women reported increased feelings of stress and depressive symptoms during the pandemic, and those with higher social support experienced less depressive symptoms.
Summary for Lay Audience
The 2019 novel-coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected many people physically, mentally, socially, and economically. The challenges posed by COVID-19 may have led to increased feelings of stress and worry. This may be particularly true in pregnant women, as they may be already feeling stress from their pregnancy. Evidence report that higher levels of stress may be linked with higher levels of depressive symptoms and result in adverse pregnancy outcomes.
This project investigated the relationship between stress and negative mood in women who recently gave birth, and its potential impact on pregnancy outcomes. Women who recently gave birth were recruited through posters and information sheets in the obstetrical clinics of Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario. Once enrolled, they were asked to complete a 30-minute remote questionnaire that asked about their levels of perceived stress, perceived social support, postpartum depressive symptoms, healthcare satisfaction, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their life and pregnancy. The collected data was analyzed with the women’s medical and pregnancy history. This group of data was also compared to a “pre-pandemic” cohort from the 2007 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey (MES) to explore if there were differences in levels of stress and negative mood in women who were pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Study results reported that the majority of women who were pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced medium to high levels of stress and 36.4% of women experienced high levels of postpartum depressive symptoms. When compared to the pre-pandemic cohort, the current COVID-19 cohort had more women that experienced increased levels of stress and depressive symptoms. However, women with high social support were observed to have lower depressive symptoms, suggesting that social support may be helpful towards reducing depression. Finally, no relationships were observed between the age, weight, medical history, and feelings of stress or postpartum depressive symptoms in this cohort of women.
Yuan, Mei, "Investigating The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Maternal Perceived Stress, Postpartum Depressive Symptoms, And Pregnancy Outcomes In London, Ontario: A One Health Approach" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7970.
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