Welcoming a new baby is typically an exciting time for any family, but a new report finds pregnant women and new moms are struggling with their mental health during the pandemic.
The recent survey from Brigham and Women’s Hospital with pregnant or postpartum women finds 36% reported clinically significant levels of depression. Rates were typically 15-20% pre-pandemic.
“One-out-of-5 women reported clinically significant anxiety,” according to study author Dr. Cindy Liu, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Liu says some women are coping with grief, loss, or disappointment.
“Losing out on major milestones or feeling like they couldn't really celebrate the joy of having a baby, that grief is actually associated with higher levels of mental health problems,” she said.
About 20% of new moms reported being very worried about the health risks related to COVID-19.
Mom-of-three Cassie Bonstrom welcomed a new life in the pandemic, but she also suffered a great loss. Her mom, already battling cancer, died of COVID-19 just before her new granddaughter was born.
“My mom wanted nothing more than to hold this baby. In my grief, I gravitate towards my family. I just want everyone to be together, and that's what we can't do right now,” said Bonstrom.
Pregnancy can be a stressful time for new moms, and the pandemic is adding even more challenges.
“Do we want to deliver early to get in and out of the hospital? And that I think is where the anxiety of pregnancy during a pandemic really set in for me, was what is the best thing for me to do during this time for my health and my baby's health,” Bonstrom said.
Bonstrom said she’s doing the best she can to get through it.
“My mom would have wanted us to create special memories with our children now, and to be as happy as we can, and be together,” she said.
She believes babies like hers will be resilient, just like their mothers.
Experts said pregnant women should acknowledge their grief and get professional help if needed.