Impact of the Maternity Care Changes of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pregnant Women and Their Birth Partners: An Integrative Literature Review
Date of Completion
Master of Science in Nursing - Educational Leadership
Introduction: In March 2020, the novel coronavirus originating out of Wuhan in China and spreading rapidly worldwide, became known as the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients with pre-existing conditions, such as the elderly and pregnant women, are among those most vulnerable to severe infection due to COVID-19. Increased pulmonary expansion in the respiratory tract make pregnant women more susceptible to viral respiratory infections and exacerbation of illnesses like COVID-19. Another major concern correlated with the pandemic and pregnancy is its effect on pregnant women’s mental health. Unique physiological and psychological changes place pregnant women at an increased risk for experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, particularly during a pandemic. Methods: For this study, an integrative review of the literature was conducted utilizing the CINAHL database and Kennesaw State library. Focus of the review was the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of pregnant women and resulting health behavior changes. Databases were searched for articles published from April 2020 – April 2022 comparing the mental health status of women pregnant prior to the pandemic to women who were pregnant during the pandemic. Of the 7,767 articles identified using the search terms, “COVID-19”, “pregnancy”, and “pregnant women”, 56 were screened for inclusion criteria, and eight were analyzed. Results: Utilizing the Whittemore and Knafl review process, the themes of the unique vulnerability of pregnancy, changes in prenatal care, anxiety of uncertainty, fear of infection, social isolation, lack of support, mental health challenges in pregnancy associated with birth defects, and overflow of social media information emerged through data analyzation. Conclusions: Changes due to COVID-19 have had a profound impact on pregnant women requiring healthcare professionals to perform enhanced mental health screening for this vulnerable population. Additionally, health care provided should be relationship-based, create a buffer for mitigating stress, and promote resilience.