Several studies revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Additionally, previous studies have shown that social support during pregnancy has a positive impact on the mental health of women in general. Since the changes during the pandemic have also caused social distancing, this may have created a negative effect on pregnant women’s well-being.
The study by Dule et al. investigated the health-related quality of life of pregnant women in Ethiopia. Face-to-face interviews (with masks and distance) were conducted with 384 pregnant women receiving antenatal care in the town Mettu in August 2020. To assess the women’s current physical, psychological, and environmental well-being, and their social relationships they were asked questions from the short version of the WHO quality of life questionnaire. Additionally, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support and the Fear of COVID-19 Scale were used to measure the women’s feelings of social support and fear of the virus.
The results revealed that quality of life differed among the participants and was influenced by the perceived support from friends or family. Women, who were more satisfied with their social support, had higher scores on the quality of life questionnaire. Due to protective measures implemented by the Ethiopian government, visiting friends, family, and going to healthcare follow-up appointments were limited, thus lowering available social support and subsequently quality of life.
Moreover, mothers who felt more scared of COVID-19 also presented lower quality of life compared to mothers with less fear. Causes for increased fear may have been high case numbers of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, less follow-up appointments during pregnancy, worries about one’s health and the baby’s health, economic difficulties caused by the pandemic, and many more.
Interestingly, women in their second trimester showed better quality of life than women in their first or third trimester. However, this could be due to nausea and vomiting during the first trimester, and it might be due to weight gain and worries about giving birth during the third trimester.
Limitations of this study include the short period of data collection, which inhibited the proof of causality. Nevertheless, the study emphasised the importance of lowering fear and increasing social support for pregnant women in times of a pandemic.
Article available at: Wiley Online Library
Full list of authors: Aman Dule, Mohammedamin Hajure, Mustefa Mohammedhussein, Zakir Abdu