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COVID-19 New mothers more likely to have postpartum depression during lockdown




Almost half (47.5%) of women with infants under 6 months met the postpartum depression threshold during the initial COVID-19 blockade. This is more than double (23%) the pre-pandemic European average rate and is a UCL researcher.

The woman described isolation, malaise, anxiety, inadequacy, guilt, and increased stress. Many were saddened by the feeling that they and their baby had lost opportunities and were worried about the developmental impact of social isolation on new children.

Those whose partners were unable or unavailable to help with parenting and household chores, especially those who were also dealing with homeschooling demands, felt the negative effects of the blockade most seriously.

Researchers surveyed 162 mothers in London between May and June 2020, using a unique social network survey designed for the blockade. Participants listed up to 25 people important to them and shared who they interacted with and how they shared it directly by phone, video call, or by messaging on social media. ..

Women also reported on their well-being with researchers assessing depression based on the most commonly used tool, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This gave us an idea of ​​the full range of mothers’ social interactions and their mental health.

The findings will be published in the journal today (May 11, 2021). Psychology Frontier..

The more remote or face-to-face contact the new mother had with people, the fewer depressive symptoms they reported, and the reduced social contact during the blockade may have increased the risk of postpartum depression. Suggests.

However, if women maintained direct contact with their families, they were actually more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than women with a small number of relatives. Researchers believe this reflects the fact that families can react to mothers suffering from mental health and break blockade rules to help them.

For many mothers, the blockade created a “continuous mother’s burden” that no one around them helped, and virtual contact (video calls / phone / text / social media messages) helped, but it was still inadequate. I felt there was. Virtual contact meant that women had to be willing to seek help because they couldn’t see their friends and family struggling and felt they had amplified their maternal stress.

Caring for a newborn baby is difficult and all new mothers suffer from some degree of mental, physical and emotional fatigue. Low social support is one of the major risk factors for developing postpartum depression. Measuring social distance during a blockade creates numerous barriers to receiving practical and meaningful support from others within weeks or months of arrival of a baby. , Made many new mothers feel completely overwhelmed.

Villages are really needed to raise children, especially in a crisis where everyone is dealing with growing demands, stress and serious life events. According to our research, blockades make new mothers more susceptible to postpartum depression, and digital solutions may help, but that’s not the answer. Policy makers will continue to address COVID-19 for moms, babies, and the whole family, so this must be taken into account. “

Dr. Sala Myers, UCL Anthropology

Not everything the new mother experienced as a result of the blockade was negative. Some people felt that it “protected” family time and led to better bonds. Another benefit is that partners are more likely to provide co-parenting and support than they would have been if the UK had not been blocked.

Dr. Emily Emott (UCL Anthropology) said: Babies, family and friends, and new mothers often agree on changes in identity and isolation that are even more difficult.

“But wherever the partner was more at home because of the blockade, where he could share relentless work and household chores, and take care of existing children, the new mother benefited. Overall. By spending this time together, this should be a source of thought not only in the pandemic, but also when considering helping parents with new babies. “

Here are some comments from new mothers surveyed about their experiences: “It definitely made me more anxious-I’m doing enough for my baby, is she okay, is she healthy and happy, if I should do more, people I’m a good mom? Many of this is difficult to communicate online. “

The first mom said, “I feel like I’m making up with each other, and there’s no one to guide me.” Another mom said, “It’s not that your child isn’t developing for you. I’m worried. I haven’t been stimulated enough. “

“No one came to take a break before the blockade, and I’m exhausted,” said one mother.

Another said, “I think the blockade made me feel like I was no longer my own person. Without anyone to hug him or help him a little, it was all me and a lot of pressure. I feel. I can be indignant. I feel like I don’t have time to rest. “Another mother said,” I’m an exhausted mother and I can’t concentrate on either child, which is for everyone. I’m giving a blow. “


Journal reference:

Myers, S & Emmott, EH (2021) The link between mothers’ cross-social communication and their postnatal depressive symptoms during Britain’s first national blockade. Psychology frontier.


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