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Differences in levels of stress, social support, health behaviours, and stress-reduction strategies for women pregnant before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and based on phases of pandemic restrictions, in Ireland

Matvienko-Sikar, K., Pope, J., Cremin, A., Carr, H., Leitao, S., Olander, E. K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7792-9895 and Meaney, S. (2020). Differences in levels of stress, social support, health behaviours, and stress-reduction strategies for women pregnant before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and based on phases of pandemic restrictions, in Ireland. Women and Birth, doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2020.10.010

Abstract

Background
The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions can adversely impact antenatal maternal well-being and health behaviours.

Aim
To examine antenatal stress and stress-reduction strategies, social support, and health behaviours between women pregnant before and during the pandemic in Ireland.

Methods
210 pregnant women were recruited online and in the antenatal department of a tertiary maternity hospital before the pandemic, and 235 women recruited online during the pandemic. Only women resident in Ireland were included in this study. Women completed measures of stress, social support, health-behaviours, and self-reported stress-reduction strategies. Differences in outcomes were examined between women pregnant before and during the pandemic, and between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Irish Government COVID-19 restrictions.

Findings
Women pregnant during the pandemic reported lower perceived social support, including support from a significant other, friends and family, than women pregnant before the pandemic. There were no significant differences in stress in health behaviours but women reported higher stress and less physical activity during the pandemic. Women reported a range of comparable stress-reduction strategies before and during the pandemic. No differences were observed between phases of pandemic-related restrictions for any outcome.

Discussion
Our findings highlight negative impacts of the pandemic on social support, stress, and physical activity, which can have implications for maternal and child health. Lack of differences between restriction phases suggests on-going negative effects for antenatal well-being and behaviours.

Conclusion
Development of supports for pregnant women during the pandemic should include social-support and stress-reduction components.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Publisher Keywords: Pregnancy, Stress, Social support, Health behaviours, COVID-19
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR355 Virology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2020 08:36
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/25282
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 23 October 2021 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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