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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-6

Managing mental health of pregnant women during COVID-19

Ph.D. (Psychology), Panjab University, Chandigarh, Founder @TheBloom Mental Health and Wellness Coach, Delhi, India

Date of Submission18-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance31-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication30-Jan-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harshmeet Kaur
S Block, Greater Kailash Part 2, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tofj.tofj_4_20

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There is an uptrend in mental health issues among the general population during COVID. Psychologists speculated that the psychological impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women cannot be neglected. It can have a serious and long-lasting social-emotional impact on expectant mothers. Keeping the above in view, existing review on psychological impact of COVID-19 and its consequences among pregnant women was retrieved via the search on PubMed, Medscape, and Google Scholar database. Evidence also suggested effective coping strategies to be used during this time to manage stress. Guided by research evidence and medical guidelines, a brief guide called “CARE” which focuses on key self-care elements for healthy prenatal and postnatal experience during the COVID-19 crisis, are being discussed in the article. Globally, mental health and well-being awareness among pregnant women is needed.

Keywords: COVID-19, pregnancy, psychological impact, psychological management

How to cite this article:
Kaur H. Managing mental health of pregnant women during COVID-19. Onco Fertil J 2020;3:3-6

How to cite this URL:
Kaur H. Managing mental health of pregnant women during COVID-19. Onco Fertil J [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 May 10];3:3-6. Available from: https://www.tofjonline.org/text.asp?2020/3/1/3/308407

  Introduction Top

The WHO expressed that COVID-19 is dominating not only physical health but also causing serious and long-lasting disruptions in psychological health. Such widespread outbreak is a major concern for older adults, children, and pregnant women.[11] Robust evidence indicated an increase in psychiatric disorders among the general population during COVID-19[6],[24] A survey by Harvard School of T. H. Chan School of Pregistry indicated a need to assess well-being and mental health of pregnant and postpartum women as the spread of COVID-19 is going to increase the stress levels among the said population.

  Methodology Top

A review of literature was undertaken on maternal prenatal psychological distress and its effects on child, the psychological impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and psychological management of pregnant women during COVID-19. Research articles were selected from PubMed, Medscape, and Google Scholar. The search items included combinations of terms, e.g., “COVID-19,” “Pregnancy,” “Mental health,” “Psychological Impact of COVID-19,” “Anxiety,” “Depression,” and “Pregnant women,” to name a few.

Review of literature

Pregnancy is a life-changing event filled with emotional fluctuations as well as new challenges. Preexisting findings have indicated maternal anxiety, depression, and stress during pregnancy are associated with numerous prenatal and postnatal complications.[7],[10]

It is well known that stressful life events and natural disasters have adverse mental health outcomes for pregnant women.[16] Therefore, it can be implied that the psychological impact of life-threatening event like COVID-19 during pregnancy can affect women's mental health and that of her child. Research addressing the psychological impact of COVID-19 among pregnant women is evolving, and few data are available. Globally, recommendations related to the psychological management of pregnant women during COVID-19 are limited by lack of substantial evidence.[22]

Guided by clinical observations and evidence, anxiety can lead to exhaustion of mind and body. Consider [Table 1] for signs and symptoms of stress/anxiety among pregnant women during COVID-19.
Table 1: Pregnant women during current crisis may respond in different ways

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Maternal mental health and well-being during COVID-19

[Table 2] shows that maternal prenatal psychological distress is related to negative psychological effects on mother and child. Psychologists speculated that the pandemic is going to have psychological impact on pregnant women. Therefore, the mental health aspect should be an important part of prenatal healthcare, especially during this time.[15] Prenatal healthcare landscape is undergoing a change. Medical community, i.e., maternity care providers (gynecologists, obstetricians, midwives, and allied medical staff) are considering the need for comprehensive care, i.e., both physical and mental health care for pregnant women, pre- and postdelivery. Specialized toolkits like Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project for Moms and Project Teach are being created for maternity care providers to effectively manage mental health issues of pregnant women during this time. [Table 3] shows the psychological impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women. To have emotionally healthy pregnancy in the light of the pandemic, the mental health community is providing virtual mental health support through tele-counseling, apps based on therapy programs, discussion groups, and self-help tips.
Table 2: Research evidence: Maternal prenatal psychological distress and its psychological effects on mother and child

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Table 3: Research evidence: Psychological impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women

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Here are some notable and trusted support systems:

  • NIMHANS perinatal mental health helpline
  • Postpartum support international helpline
  • CBT for perinatal distress by beck institute of cbt
  • Lifeline 4 moms
  • Mumentum
  • Headspace
  • Mind the bump
  • Expectful
  • The bloom foundation.

During pandemic, pregnant women had been experiencing anxiety. The symptoms have been discussed in [Table 1]. Guided by research evidence and medical guidelines, given below is a brief guide called “CARE” which includes 4 key self-care elements for healthy prenatal and postnatal experience during the COVID-19 crisis [Table 4]. The key elements are shown in [Table 4]. In simple terms, self-care in pregnancy means “care for your mind, body, soul and your baby to-be.” Coping skills for women, that have been considered effective in dealing with COVID-19 stress has been discussed in [Table 5].
Table 4: Care model for managing mental health of pregnant women during COVID-19

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Table 5: Research evidence: Coping skills for women in pregnancy during COVID-19

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  Conclusion Top

Rising to prenatal mental health issues during challenging times, researchers in the field of mental health science, practicing psychologists, and maternity care providers must be brought together to carry out more rigorous research related to its prevention. Better psychological interventions to boost prenatal and postnatal mental health and well-being of pregnant women during pandemic at a global level are needed. Considering the fact that approaching a mental health professional is still a stigma in India, enlarging awareness through various platforms such as web portals, webinars, social media, success stories events, storytelling, campaigns, government programs about getting access to mental health professionals for support during stressful life events is much needed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Berthelot N, Lemieux R, Garon-Bissonnette J, Drouin-Maziade C, Martel É, Maziade M. Uptrend in distress and psychiatric symptomatology in pregnant women during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2020;99:848-55.  Back to cited text no. 1
Corbett GA, Milne SJ, Hehir MP, Lindow SW, O'connell MP. Health anxiety and behavioural changes of pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2020;249:96-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
Durankuş F, Aksu E. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on anxiety and depressive symptoms in pregnant women: A preliminary study. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2020; 32419558:1-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
Evans J, Melotti R, Heron J, Ramchandani P, Wiles N, Murray L, et al. The timing of maternal depressive symptoms and child cognitive development: A longitudinal study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2012;53:632-40.  Back to cited text no. 4
Glover V. Annual Research Review: Prenatal stress and the origins of psychopathology: An evolutionary perspective. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2011;52:356-67.  Back to cited text no. 5
Goyal K, Chauhan P, Chhikara K, Gupta P, Singh MP. Fear of COVID 2019: First suicidal case in India ! Asian J Psychiatr 2020;49:101989.  Back to cited text no. 6
Grigoriadis S, VonderPorten EH, Mamisashvili L, Tomlinson G, Dennis CL, Koren G, et al. The impact of maternal depression during pregnancy on perinatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74:e321-41.  Back to cited text no. 7
Horsager-Boehrer R.COVID; Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters Tips to manage 'pandemic pregnancy' stress. UT Southwestern; 2020. Available from: https://utswmed.org/medblog/tips-manage-pandemic-pregnancy-stress/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 21].  Back to cited text no. 8
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Huizink AC, Mulder EJ, Robles de Medina PG, Visser GH, Buitelaar JK. Is pregnancy anxiety a distinctive syndrome? Early Hum Dev 2004;79:81-91.  Back to cited text no. 10
Louisiana Mental Health Perinatal Partnership. Helping Perinatal Patients Cope during COVID-19 Outbreak. LMHPP; 2020. Available from: https://wavetulane-my.sharepoint.com/personal/mgleason_tulane_edu/_layouts/15/onedrive.aspx.  Back to cited text no. 11
Madigan S, Oatley H, Racine N, Fearon RM, Schumacher L, Akbari E, et al. A meta-analysis of maternal prenatal depression and anxiety on child socioemotional development. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2018;57:645-657.e8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Meaney MJ. Perinatal maternal depressive symptoms as an issue for population health. Am J Psychiatry 2018;175:1084-93.  Back to cited text no. 13
Michigan Medicine. Prenatal Care during COVID-19. Michigan Medicine; 2020. Available from: https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/psychiatry/michigan-psychiatry-resources-covid-19/adults-specific-resources/prenatal-care-during-covid-19 [Last accessed on 2020, May 11].  Back to cited text no. 14
Neurosciencenews. COVID-19 Places Added Prenatal Stress on Mother and Child that could have Lasting Impact. Neurosciencenews; 2020. Available from: https://neurosciencenews.com/coronavirus-prenatal-stress-16351/. [Last accessed on 2020 May 11].  Back to cited text no. 15
O'Connor E, Senger CA, Henninger ML, Coppola E, Gaynes BN. Interventions to prevent perinatal depression: Evidence report and systematic review for the us preventive services task force. JAMA 2019;321:588-601.  Back to cited text no. 16
Pearson RM, Campbell A, Howard LM, Bornstein MH, O'Mahen H, Mars B, et al. Impact of dysfunctional maternal personality traits on risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years: A population-based longitudinal study. Psychol Med 2018;48:50-60.  Back to cited text no. 17
Saccone G, Florio A, Aiello F, Venturella R, De Angelis MC, Locci M, et al. Psychological impact of COVID-19 in pregnant women. Am J Obs and Gyne 2020; 22:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 18
Szekely E, Neumann A, Sallis H, Jolicoeur-Martineau A, Verhulst FC, Meaney MJ, et al. Maternal prenatal mood, pregnancy-specific worries, and early child psychopathology: Findings from the DREAM BIG consortium. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2020, 60:186-197.  Back to cited text no. 19
Tarabulsy GM, Pearson J, Vaillancourt-Morel MP, Bussières EL, Madigan S, Lemelin JP, et al. Meta-analytic findings of the relation between maternal prenatal stress and anxiety and child cognitive outcome. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2014;35:38-43.  Back to cited text no. 20
The Mother Baby Center Team. Tips for Emotional Health during Pregnancy and COVID-19. The Mother Baby Center Team; 2020. Available from: https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/care/tips-for-emotional-health-during-pregnancy-and-covid19. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 23].  Back to cited text no. 21
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Wu Y, Zhang C, Liu H, Duan C, Li C, Fan J, et al. Perinatal depressive and anxiety symptoms of pregnant women during the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak in China. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2020;223:240.  Back to cited text no. 23
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


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