The impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on maternal mental health and coping in the UK: Data from the COVID-19 New Mum Study
Depression and anxiety affect up to 20% of new and expectant mothers during the perinatal period; this rate may have increased due to COVID-19 and lockdown measures. This analysis aimed to assess how mothers are feeling and coping during lockdown, and to identify the potential pathways that can assist them. Methods: 1329 women living in the UK aged ≥18 years with an infant ≤12 months of age completed an anonymous online survey. Descriptive analysis of maternal mental health, coping, support
... coping, support received, activities undertaken and consequences of lockdown was conducted. Linear regression was used to predict maternal mental health and coping, using activities, support, and consequences of the lockdown as predictors, while adjusting for age, gestational age, ethnicity, income, marital status and number of children. Results: More than half of the participants reported feeling down (56%), lonely (59%), irritable (62%) and worried (71%), to some or high extent since lockdown began. Despite this, 70% felt able to cope with the situation. Support with her own health (95% CI .004, .235), contacting infant support groups (95% CI -.003, .252), and higher infant gestational age (95% CI .000, .063) predicted better mental health. Travelling for work (95% CI -.680, -.121), lockdown having a major impact on the ability to afford food (95% CI -1.202, -.177), and having an income lower than 30k (95% CI -.475, -.042) predicted poorer mental health. Support with her own health and more equal division of household chores were associated with better coping. Conclusion: During lockdown, a large proportion of new mothers experienced symptoms of poor mental health; mothers of infants with lower gestational age, with low income, and who are travelling to work were particularly at risk. However, greater support for maternal health and with household chores showed positive associations with maternal mental health and coping. These findings highlight the urgent need to assess maternal mental health, and to identify prevention strategies for mothers during different stages of lockdown.