Pregnant women felt “constantly overshadowed by the unknown” during the pandemic, according to a new study. As such, the loneliness and insecurities that pregnant women felt going through pregnancy over the past year or more, led to a decline in mental well-being in this population. And much of this decline in well-being may be traced to the influx of consistently changing information that occurred regarding COVID, leaving pregnant women unsure about how to safely navigate life in general.
Researchers from the University of Gothenburg found that women who were expecting during the pandemic were under a great deal of mental stress as a result of constantly changing information about the virus, the inability of partners to be with them for prenatal appointments, and the fear that partners would contract COVID themselves, according to Medical Xpress. As a result, women felt that the pregnancy that they had hoped to experience filled with joy and excitement was instead filled with anxiety and for some, fear about the unknown.
The study, which was published in the journal, Women and Birth found that there were two groups of women involved in the study. There were those who did their best to try and forget about COVID and live their daily lives and those who completely changed their lives in order to try to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
What is interesting about this study is that it involved pregnant women from Sweden, where the government decided to take a herd immunity approach to fight the coronavirus. As such, instead of locking down the country like so many others had found effective, according to the BBC, the Swedish government decided to rely on its citizens to social distance themselves, limit gatherings to less than 50 people, working from home when possible, and more.
Whether or not the government took the right approach is still up for debate. However, the decision to not go into lockdown like neighbors Norway, Denmark, and Finland caused extra stress for pregnant women who felt like it was up to them to keep themselves and their unborn babies safe from the virus, according to the study.
To determine the level of stress that pregnant women were under, researchers conducted a small study with 14 women who had babies from August through November 2020. According to EurekAlert!, none of the women contracted COVID and while some may have had complications with their pregnancies, all carried their babies to term.
While all of the women admitted to having extra stress and anxieties during their pregnancies being consistently bombarded with developing news regarding coronavirus, the women found different ways of dealing with it.
According to the study, some distracted themselves with work or with older children and tried their best to not think about how devastating the virus could be. Others, not finding an outlet to channel their fears, watched and read everything they could about the virus and shut themselves off to their friends to stay safe.
Though these feelings of anxiety and the like existed, all of the participants felt like the medical care they received was as it should be, according to Medical Xpress. However, where they felt their care was lacking was in the information they were being provided about their pregnancies as well as the pandemic itself.
While researchers state that future studies need to be conducted to see how other women in Sweden, as well as other countries, felt during their pregnancies, what is clear from the information collected thus far is that women need more support during their pregnancies when there is a worldwide emergency occurring. If that support is received, the mental stress and decline in wellbeing can be avoided. And in turn, this allows women to again enjoy their pregnancies and not live in constant fear of the worst possible outcomes.
This study adds science to that gut-feeling.
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