Postpartum stress and protective factors in women who gave birth in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable stress throughout the world. Little is known about how postpartum women who gave birth during the early months of the pandemic were impacted. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the associations between potential risk, protective factors, and psychological distress among postpartum women who gave birth during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Postpartum women over the age of 18 years who gave birth in the US hospitals between March and July of 2020 and spoke English completed a survey about their experiences. Demographic and health variables were measured via self-report. Stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale-10. Mastery was measured with the Pearlin Mastery Scale. Resilience was measured with the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale-2. Results: This study included 885 women. Participants had higher stress and lower resilience relative to pre-pandemic norms. Participants had high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Women who had an infant admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit had more stress. Income, full-time employment, and partnered relationships were associated with lower stress. Resilience and mastery were related to lower stress, depression, and anxiety. Black, Indigenous, or People of Color women showed higher stress and lower resiliency. Single women were likely to report lower levels of mastery than partnered women. Conclusion: Stress, depression, and anxiety were high in postpartum women in this study. Income, partnered relationships, and employment security, along with protective traits such as mastery and resilience, may reduce the impact of stress on postpartum women in a pandemic. Care models should be modified to support women during a pandemic. Health disparities exist in postpartum stress. Future interventions should focus on building resiliency and mastery and ensuring appropriate resources are available to postpartum women in a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWomen's Health
Volume17
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • COVID
  • birth
  • mastery
  • pregnancy
  • resilience
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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