In 2020 lockdown left parents expecting the arrival of their babies feeling extremely lonely, anxious and depressed during pregnancy due to restrictions which were put in place following the coronavirus pandemic.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time surrounded by all your loved ones. Instead for the past year for women around the globe it has been an extremely lonely time due to months of lockdown and restrictions resulting in experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
A recent study conducted by the University of Alberta concluded that “1 in 7 women experience anxiety or depression before or immediately after giving birth” researches added that the pandemic has made this a lot worse.
Jasmine, 24, from Exeter, found out that she was expecting her first baby a week before the first national lockdown back in March 2020. “I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time, it was the single happiest moment of my life. We were so excited to share it with everyone”. A week later, Jasmine and her partner had to cancel all plans to visit family following the government announcement of restrictions.
The following 9 months of pregnancy for Jazmin were spent feeling extremely lonely. Due to being on the shielding list and with all the restrictions in place, Jazmin found herself stuck behind the same walls of her home every day living in fear. “I rarely left the house during pregnancy, my partner was still working so I was alone all the time. My family lives 6 hours away, so going for a socially distanced walk was also not possible”.
Another study which was carried out by Aptaclub consisting of pregnant women and newborn mums concluded that “majority have experienced some form of anxiety (54%), loneliness (50%) or felt scared (36%) due to being alone during key pregnancy moments such as scans, appointments, the birth or hospital stays”.
Jasmine, who has now given birth to little baby boy Grayson, said she felt at her lowest when her partner couldn’t come to key appointments or when they received hardly any face to face guidance from her midwife. “It was definitely so hard to go and have to do everything on my own. As a first time mum in all honesty I had no clue what I was doing. There’s only so much you can read from the books I got online”. For her partner Sam, the frustration and feelings of anxiety were also apparent. “He felt helpless the entire time. He couldn’t come to any of the scans, wasn’t there to hear his heart beat for the first time or when we found out the gender of the baby. He hardly got to experience this at all. I don’t think it felt real for him until the very moment he arrived”.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, women were banned from having someone accompany them during any appointments. Another study provided evidence that 84% of new dads felt excluded from experiencing pregnancy with their loved ones and only 1 in 4 felt like they received enough essential information on caring for a newborn during their partner’s pregnancy.
Now, after the arrival of baby Grayson, Jasmine and her partner Sam still say they are feeling the effects of the lockdown on their mental health. “He’s here and he’s absolutely perfect and we honestly couldn’t be happier but, we haven’t been able to share his arrival with his grandparents, aunties, uncles, nephews and friends. He’s just been cooped up inside. We have no clue when the rest of his family will be able to meet him”.
The study conducted by Aptaclub also found that 57% of pregnant women in the study feel like they are missing out on the excitement and making memories with their family and friends as well as their child missing out in important bonding time with family members too.
Coronavirus has taken away the experience of a lifetime for first time parents. Unable to leave their house and see anyone has heightened feelings of anxiety and depression. Thankfully after many months and many parents going through pregnancy on their own, there has been an easing on allowing both parents into milestone appointments.
For Jasmine and Sam it’s a little too late. “Baby Grayson has been the best thing to happen to us, but we are still yet to experience pregnancy for the first time together in so many ways. Such an amazing time of someone’s life has been taken away from so many people sadly”.