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The impact of COVID-19 on pregnant womens’ experiences and perceptions of antenatal maternity care, social support, and stress-reduction strategies

Meaney, S., Leitao, S., Olander, E. K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7792-9895, Pope, J. and Matvienko-Sikar, K. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on pregnant womens’ experiences and perceptions of antenatal maternity care, social support, and stress-reduction strategies. Women and Birth, doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2021.04.013


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on maternity care, supports and women's mental health.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess pregnant women's satisfaction with antenatal care and social support and to examine stress-reduction strategies women used during the pandemic.

Methods: An online survey was conducted between June and July 2020. Pregnant women, aged over 18 years were recruited. The survey included closed and open-ended questions to assess women's perceptions and satisfaction with their antenatal care, social support, and stress-reduction strategies. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis were used for quantitative analyses; qualitative content analysis was used for open-ended questions.

Findings: 573 pregnant women completed the survey. Women reported low levels of social support which was predicted by women's mental health and demographic factors and was related to public health and maternity service restrictions. Women reported that restrictions implemented in the maternity services limited their face-to face interactions with healthcare professionals and meant their partners could not attend antenatal appointments or support them in the postpartum period in the maternity setting. The lack of information on COVID-19 and pregnancy meant women had greater uncertainty about pregnancy and birth.

Discussion: Our findings indicate how the lack of access to antenatal care and reduced perceived social support as a result of the restrictions implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially intensifies pregnancy specific stress.

Conclusions: There is a need for the provision of supportive care, both formally and informally, particularly with women who may be more vulnerable during a pandemic.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: COVID-19, Antenatal care, social support, stress-reduction, maternity care
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
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 > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Date available in CRO: 08 Jun 2021 09:19
Date deposited: 8 June 2021
Date of acceptance: 29 April 2021
Date of first online publication: 6 May 2021
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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