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