Over the last several months, the BabyBEEs Collaborative and the ISLAND Lab have been collecting data on the impact of COVID-19 for NYC families through the COVID-19 and Perinatal Experiences (COPE) study. Through analyzing this data, an area of the project's ongoing research aims to investigate maternal mental health as well as infant outcomes during this significantly challenging time for families. Our study participants (N=679) represent a cohort of pregnant women and new mothers in the New York City Metropolitan area who, in response to a series of online surveys, have provided valuable information of perinatal experiences captured during this global pandemic.
Our teams have created the infographic below to present preliminary findings and provide an informative overview of what we have learned so far.
Positive Changes: Surprisingly, a great deal of new and expecting mothers reported positive changes during this time. A majority (n=468) reported a greater appreciation for life due to COVID-19. Some even reported new connections and stronger relationships. Several studies have shown that hardship and trauma can lead to post-traumatic growth, providing people with greater resilience and appreciation for what they have (Jayawickreme & Blackie, 2016; Kissil et al., 2010). Although this pandemic may not be traumatic for all families, it presents many challenges that may lead to reflection and growth.
Self-Care: Based on our surveys, we have found that first time pregnant women (those with no other children) are using and finding self-care coping mechanisms to be the most helpful way to cope during this pandemic. To learn more about different methods of self-care, check out this blog post written by BabyBEEs Collaborative!
Missing out: Unsurprisingly, the majority (n=509) of moms reported that what they miss most is in-person contact with others. Social isolation and distress around social support was a common theme reported by the COPE cohort. When the weather is nice out, a socially distanced day at the park could be a good way to meet up with friends or let your baby meet new people! Stay informed of updated events weekly as the city re-opens here.
Stress: This pandemic has brought about lots of changes and distress. Families and individuals have undoubtedly felt and increased stress in their daily lives. Our survey responses showed that a large proportion of this stress is caused by financial concerns (n=153). This is followed by health concerns, impact on community and friends, and access to mental health care. While seemingly inevitable amidst the uncertainty of changing times, there are several self-guided practices that are shown to effectively manage stress; such as focused breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises. For additional information on mental health resources, visit our COVID-19 resource page.
Changes to care: Prenatal and postnatal care involve doctor checkups and testing that can ensure a healthy development of the baby and mother. Because of the pandemic, going to doctor’s appointments and hospital checkups is more difficult than ever. As this situation continues to evolve, the rules around pregnancy and giving birth has changed with it. Many moms reported only having one person allowed in the birthing room. Some reported going to appointments alone. As hospitals and other medical settings continue to adapt to these changing circumstances, we hope to see a dedication to bringing care for pregnant and new mothers.
Advice: We asked our cohort to give advice to other new and expecting mothers going through the pandemic. Many of our responses outlined staying calm, taking care of personal mental health, getting support, and staying at home.
As we continue to navigate this global pandemic , we hope that the information shared from our findings from COPE study is helpful and informative not only to our study participants, but to a larger audience of parents, families, and care providers in our community. If you are interested in learning more about the COPE study or these findings, please connect with us online or by email via the links below!