Publication date: Jul 10, 2023
Early reports during the COVID-19 pandemic showed pregnant and postpartum women have increased rates of anxiety and depression. We hypothesized that exposure to more COVID-19-related events (e. g., stay-at-home orders, school closures, work layoffs, family members ill with COVID-19; Event Exposure), greater perceived impact of COVID-19 events on the family (Family Impact), and less social support would be associated with more anxiety and depression symptoms among first-time mothers. We interviewed 125 first-time mothers of infants under 3 months of age from four pediatric primary care offices (June 2020 – February 2021) to assess COVID-19 experiences, anxiety and depression symptoms, and social support. Hierarchical linear regression evaluated relations between COVID-19 Event Exposure, COVID-19 Family Impact, and social support on maternal anxiety and depression symptoms. COVID-19 Event Exposure was not associated with depression or anxiety symptom scores. However, greater COVID-19 Family Impact was related to increased maternal depression and anxiety symptoms when controlling for COVID-19 Event Exposure. Reduced social support predicted higher depression symptom scores, but not anxiety symptom scores, when accounting for other variables. The number of COVID-19-related events experienced by first-time mothers did not predict anxiety or depression symptoms. However, greater perceived impact of COVID-19 on their family was associated with higher symptoms of anxiety and depression in these mothers. Pediatricians can promote resilience strategies to help new mothers adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic to help decrease anxiety and depression symptoms.