Pregnancy and childbirth have been described as a happy and joyful period. Because of a range of hormonal and other changes perinatal women go through during pregnancy and childbirth, they develop depression. This is a tough time for them to be depressed.
The world has created more awareness about depression today than there was decades ago. In 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) reported depression as a significant mental health issue. Global evidence has shown a considerable burden of perinatal depression in low-income, middle-income, and developed countries. This makes perinatal depression a major public health issue globally.
Depression is of many factors and levels. They range from biological to psychological. It has both social and cultural effects, such as inequality and isolation. There are several complications related to perinatal depression if it remains untreated. These range from low birth weight, newborn development, and short term fetal, a psychological disorder in later life, preterm birth, and stillbirths. They don’t end there; infections and malnutrition are some other consequences associated with it.
Life may be stressful, especially during these unprecedented times. There are high chances of women developing symptoms of perinatal depression. However, some steps can be taken to support and reduce the risk of the babies and the mother.
The Pandemic and Perinatal Women Depression
Difficulties women have to go through daily is the primary cause of perinatal depression. In developing countries, they range from poor healthcare, stress from feeding their families, and precarious earnings.
The pandemic has added an extra layer to peoples’ sense of uncertainty. Its control measures have done more harm than good. It has brought extra layers of anxiety.
Are there some other ways the pandemic has skyrocketed depression?
- Perinatal women are more concerned and care a lot about the health of their children. Even though there is no evidence of mother to child transmission of the disease, perinatal women are likely to express these concerns.
- Economic hardship because of the risk of unemployment results in potential stress and depression on perinatal women and their families.
- Health services are compromised, and efforts to do with maternal health swept under the carpet to focus on the coronavirus fight. Fear of getting the virus keeps away women from hospitals.
- People spend more time at home, and this has increased home-based violence and abuse. This is one factor that increases perinatal depression in women.
It is important to keep watch of the psycho-social health of perinatal women. Perinatal care providers have several things they can offer perinatal women to take care of their mental health during the pandemic.
Awareness should be created to the relevant healthcare professionals concerning the increased risk of depression in pregnant women. Perinatal women should also be informed about self-screening for depression. These can easily be done by using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale.
There should exist a frequent online follow-up system that facilitates partners’ involvement and improve social support and coping ability. Other useful activities that perinatal women should take into consideration are; physical activities, recognizing thoughts and emotional intensities, keeping a diary, listening to music, among others.
Should a vaccine be developed successfully, then pregnant women should be considered as a vulnerable group. They should be given much need for attention and treatment.
Media should cheap in and spread the word as they make aware of the perinatal about the pandemic. This can best be done by giving customized ads to send positivity and care for their mental health.
Perinatal women should not be left in the dark as they hold the lives of the future generation. The governments, organizations should join the fight to enlightening these women—a healthy next generation start with the actions taken today.