Pregnant women experienced increased fear and depression during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused over 900,000 deaths and there has been over 28 million cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The pandemic has reportedly increased overall stress, anxiety, and depression. 

The study included 331 pregnant women in China without COVID-19. In February 2020, participants completed an online questionnaire on their mental health. The questionnaire asked about isolation, the participants’ health, and their fears for their children. 

The survey results showed that 83.1% of participants indicated they were mostly worried about “potential infected people were unprotected and non-isolated.” The health of their baby was the next most common concern, with 78.6% of participants fearing “self-infection could affect the health of their baby.” 

More than half, 56.2%, feared “they themselves becoming infected and being isolated.” Investigators found that COVID-19 increased pregnancy stress, whereas a sense of security decreased it, according to the study. 

"If a pregnant woman is diagnosed or suspected of COVID-19 infection, it may induce different degrees of psychological stress such as fear and anxiety, which would not be conducive to the mother's or child's health…It is essential for the health staff to build trust with pregnant women and their families, and to communicate accurate information to them during COVID-19 outbreak," co-author Xiu-Min Jiang, RN, said in the press release. 

Clinicians should evaluate pregnant women’s psychological responses and provide them with the appropriate guidance, according to the study. Health care providers should aim to provide methods to enhance pregnant women’s sense of security during the COVID-19 pandemic, the study concluded. 

Reference:
Pregnant women's psychological health during the COVID-19 outbreak [News Release] September 10, 2020; Fuijian, China. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/w-pwp090920.php. Accessed September 14, 2020.