Adrienne Larson, Gracie Manlow, Amy Caridge, Tishra Beeson, Amie Wojtyna
Amy Claridge (Family and Child Life)
Risk factors associated with prenatal depression have been studied extensively, but it is unclear whether typical risks are relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. This mixed-method study involved surveys and interviews with women in their third trimester of pregnancy to understand prevalence and correlates of prenatal depression during a pandemic event. Survey participants included 378 pregnant women in the United States with due dates between April and December 2020 who self-reported depressive symptoms using the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Participants were predominately white, married, and highly educated. A subset of 21 women participated in qualitative interviews. In total, 56.3% of women reported depressive symptoms consistent with clinical levels of prenatal depression. Correlates of depressive symptoms included younger age, unmarried status, lack of access to paid parental leave, feeling unsafe in current romantic relationship, fear and worry about upcoming childbirth, and change in birth plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In-depth interviews with participants revealed key themes around pregnant women’s experiences with fear and anxiety, mixed emotions, and grief and loss. These findings underscore the pervasive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women during the perinatal period, with specific implications for the care of women with prenatal depression and their families. The heightened potential for prenatal depression in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is concerning given the potential adverse effects of maternal depression. Practitioners must work together to engage in additional assessment of risks of prenatal depression to ensure support for expecting families is readily accessible.
Keywords: COVID-19, Perinatal depression, Pregnancy