Pregnancy is often a wonderful time for new moms, their families and loved ones, but it usually also requires support and cooperation from those in the mother's support system. The coronavirus crisis, however, made this journey much more difficult than usual.
Aeroflow Breastpumps, a women's health medical equipment provider, found in a new survey that the COVID-19 crisis negatively impacted the quality of life for pregnant women and new mothers, although those with Medicaid may have had it worse.
For instance, although 38% of mothers who had private insurance said that they or their partner lost a source of income during the pandemic, that number jumped to 72% among mothers with Medicaid. Among this cohort, 45% chose not to return to work after their maternity leave ended, in order to raise their children and reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus — which only further increases the income gap between the two groups.
New mothers unable to attend in-person medical visits during the pandemic
The current health crisis hasn't just impacted many women's ability to keep work and advance their career either — Aeroflow Breastpumps shows that it has affected the entire pregnancy and postpartum journey as well. The survey revealed that:
- 29% of all new mothers were unable to attend all of their prenatal visits in person due to COVID-19 restrictions
- 60% who had in-person prenatal visits were unable to have their partner or a support person by their side
- 28% did not have in-person visits with a lactation consultant before discharge after giving birth
Additionally, the report found that just under 3 in 10 (28%) women who were offered the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding received it while another third chose not to get it at all while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, the majority of respondents (63%) said that their OB-GYNs or primary care providers never mentioned the vaccine to them at all.
Respondents reported a decline in mental health during pregnancy and postpartum
Under normal circumstances, most new mothers would have a support system made up of family and friends to help them through the pregnancy and postpartum process.
Understandably, that support system was noticeably lacking for pregnant women and new mothers over the past 18 months, as 31% of all new moms said their support people couldn't be with them due to the pandemic. Another 46% said that the circumstances caused by the pandemic prevented them from achieving their breastfeeding or postpartum recovery goals.
Aeroflow Breastpumps also noticed that women with Medicaid lacked the support that their counterparts with commercial health insurance had. Compared to the 24% of mothers with private insurance who said they had to take care of their baby by themselves during the pandemic, that number rose to 36% for mothers who had Medicaid. On top of that, 27% of those with Medicaid also had to take care of older children at home, which made their recovery even more difficult.
Other typically beneficial activities that new moms couldn't partake in due to the health crisis included:
- Going out in public (85%)
- Visits with friends and family (80%)
- Hiring child care (51%)
- Getting out for some fresh air (36%)
This could be why the majority of respondents reported an increase in isolation or poor mental health during pregnancy (68%) as well as postpartum feelings of depression, isolation and disappointment (68%) for pandemic-era mothers.
Methodology: Aeroflow Breastpumps administered a survey via third party to 1,083 women living in the United States with children between the ages of zero to one year. Of the sample size, half were on Medicaid (540) and the other half had commercial health insurance (543).