The onset of mental illness such as depression and anxiety disorders in pregnancy and postpartum period is common. The coronavirus induced disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting public policy responses represent an exceptional situation worldwide and there are hints for adverse psychosocial impact, hence, the study of psychological effects of the pandemic in women during hospitalization for delivery and in the postpartum period is highly relevant.
Patients who gave birth during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany (March to June 2020) at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Würzburg, Germany, were recruited at hospital admission for delivery. Biosamples were collected for analysis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and various stress hormones and interleukin-6 (IL-6). In addition to sociodemographic and medical obstetric data, survey questionnaires in relation to concerns about and fear of COVID-19, depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, maternal self-efficacy and the mother–child bonding were administered at T1 (delivery stay) and T2 (3–6 months postpartum).
In total, all 94 recruited patients had a moderate concern of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) at T1 with a significant rise at T2. This concern correlated with low to low-medium general psychosocial stress levels and stress symptoms, and the women showed a significant increase of active coping from T1 to T2. Anxiety levels were low and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale showed a medium score of 5 with a significant (T1), but only week correlation with the concerns about SARS-CoV-2. In contrast to the overall good maternal bonding without correlation to SARS-CoV-2 concern, the maternal self-efficiency correlated negatively with the obstetric impairment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obstetric patients` concerns regarding SARS-CoV-2 and the accompanying pandemic increased during the course of the pandemic correlating positively with stress and depression. Of note is the increase in active coping over time and the overall good mother–child-bonding. Maternal self-efficacy was affected in part by the restrictions of the pandemic.
Clinical trial registration DRKS00022506