Background & Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to healthcare systems worldwide, leading to changes in healthcare practices, including perinatal care delivery. As pregnant women are considered a vulnerable population, perinatal mental health has become a significant concern during the pandemic. This systematic review aims to synthesise the current scientific evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on perinatal mental health and its associated risk factors.
Materials & Methods: The review used a structured process based on JBI and PICOS strategy and searched three databases for studies published between July 2020 to December 2022 that measured specific mental health outcomes using validated measures. The PRISMA guideline was followed for the study selection process.
Results: Among the total 45 articles that have been included, the prevalence of depression and anxiety was found to be moderate to severe in pregnant and/or postpartum women during the pandemic, with a significantly higher level compared to prior to the pandemic. Additionally, pregnant and/or postpartum who tested positive for COVID-19 were more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Furthermore, perinatal women with pre-existing mental illness showed further deterioration during the pandemic, and lastly, pregnant and/or postpartum women had higher levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-pregnant women.
Conclusions: This systematic review finds a significant increase in depression and anxiety among pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic, with risk factors such as unemployment and poor social support. Healthcare professionals should establish treatment plans to prevent adverse mental outcomes for this vulnerable population.