Even before the pandemic, mothers faced difficulty accessing health information and often struggled to find adequate support in the few months after they’ve given birth. Since COVID-19 emerged as a global pandemic in March, traditional supports that new parents had have in the past have disappeared or been dramatically reduced. For example, many family resource centers cancelled in-person drop-ins and due to physical distancing recommendations, some parents have not had the informal support from family and friends they were used to or expecting.
To understand that impact that COVID-19 has had on new mothers, Justine Dol and Brianna Richardson, two PhD trainees from the MOM-LINC team, are asking moms from the Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) to share their experience on caring for a newborn during a global pandemic. After seeing the difficulties new parents were experiencing throughout their communities, they felt it was important to hear from moms directly.
What is unique about this project is that Justine and Brianna, supervised by Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo, a Professor in the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, actually did a similar survey with moms prior to the pandemic in the Fall of 2019. We heard from 561 mom across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island who shared with us their postpartum experiences. Prior to the pandemic, while 75% of moms were satisfied with their postpartum experience, some challenges were identified including the difficulties in accessing healthcare services, experiencing gaps in their follow-up care, and having unsatisfactory checks for themselves. We anticipate this may have only gotten worse since March due to the strain on the healthcare system. We also found that first time moms had lower confidence and higher postpartum anxiety than mothers with two or more children. Also, moms with babies between 4-6 months had higher levels of postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression than moms with younger babies. We are collecting the same information now to see if COVID-19 has impacted mothers postpartum mental health, as other studies have found.
Given the physical distancing recommendations across the Maritimes, some moms may be potentially at a higher risk of postpartum mental health than others, particularly first-time moms or moms with slightly older infants. Studies have also found that pregnant women are likely to experience more mental health challenges during COVID-19. Women who are pregnant or recently postpartum might be more impacted in already difficult transition period. While physical distancing recommendations are important to keep the spread of COVID-19 low, they also contributed to moms isolating at home, without any in-person support, being physically isolated from not only healthcare providers, but also from their extended family and support systems.
Given the significant changes, it is important to explore if and how the postpartum experience has shifted during COVID-19. Our goal is to use this information to help us to better understand the experience of mothers shortly after birth during COVID-19 and identify potential areas that could be improved to support mothers across the Maritimes.
How you can help:
We are asking moms who have given birth within the past six months and who live in one of the three Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) to complete a brief online survey.
If you or someone you know lives in a Maritime province and had a baby within the past 6 months, we would love to hear from you. The survey closes October 31st!
To complete the survey: tinyurl.com/momlinc-covid
Interested in reading more about this study? Check out the list below to explore all of the articles and interviews recently shared!
CBC NS Mainstreet (radio): “The challenges of raising a baby during a pandemic” https://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/nova-scotia/ns-mainstreet-halifax/
Global Morning (video): https://globalnews.ca/video/7323517/covid-19-impact-on-postpartum-mothers
Chronicle Herald (article): https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/local/researchers-seek-new-moms-pandemic-experiences-in-maritimes-494301/
The Guardian PEI (article): https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/canada/researchers-seek-new-moms-pandemic-experiences-in-maritimes-494301/
Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative (article): #ResearcherSpotlight Campaign, https://cpmhc.ca/researcherspotlight/