Covid-19 pandemic became an unexpected stressor for the entire population and, particularly, for pregnant women and lactating mothers. The alarming infectious risk together with the lockdown period could affect the emotional state of mothers-to-be, as well as breastfeeding rates, mother-baby bonding, or neonatal weight gain. The aim of this study is to describe the impact of this world health emergency in mother-baby pairs right after the first wave of Sars-Cov-2 pandemic (from March to May 2020).
A prospective observational study was carried out in mother–child dyads from those women who gave birth between June and August 2020 in a tertiary hospital. 91 mother-baby pairs were initially enrolled and 56 of them completed the follow-up. The study design had two separate steps: i) Step one: A clinical interview plus three psychometric tests (EPDS: Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, PBQ: Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire and STAI-S: State-Trait Anxiety Inventory); ii) Step two: mother–child dyads were followed using a round of three brief telephone interviews (conducted at the newborn’s 7, 14 and 28 days of age) to accurately depict the newborn’s outcome in the neonatal period.
In terms of maternal mental health, 25% of the sample screens positively in the EPDS, requiring further evaluation to rule out depressive symptoms. STAI-state and PBQ detect no abnormalities in either anxiety levels or mother–child bonding in our sample, as 100% of the mothers score below the cut-off points in each test (34 and 26 respectively). When comparing feeding practices (breast/bottle feeding) in 2020 to those practices during pre-pandemic years (2017–2019), a significant increase in breastfeeding was found in pandemic times. All newborns in the sample showed an adequate weight gain during their first month of life.
Women and newborns in our sample did not experience an increase in adverse outcomes in the neonatal period in terms of maternal mental health, breastfeeding rates, bonding and further neonatal development.