Pandemic Stress Increasing Mental Health Issues For Pregnant Women & New Moms

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – “I have felt almost like I’ve had postpartum depression all over again,” says Jen Schwartz. She now has a seven-year-old son, but the stay at home orders brought on by a global pandemic have given her flashbacks to the stress of new motherhood: isolation, not leaving your house, and anxiety about what the future holds. Schwartz says, “All of those things are so similar, right? They’re so similar.”

This week marks Maternal Mental Health Awareness, which, this year, is being exacerbated by stress from the coronavirus. Schwartz says, “It’s really just set up this perfect storm for a maternal mental health illness, like postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.”

Schwartz is the CEO and founder of Motherhood Understood, an online community of women helping women. This week, she offers daily Instagram live chats with maternal mental health experts.

“Taking care of mom is taking care of the baby,” says Cynthia Wood. Wood is the executive director of new non-profit in Charlotte called Mind Body Baby NC. Mind Body Baby is a collective of perinatal practitioners who are also moms, who work to educate and support new moms. Wood says what everyone is experiencing right now could help raise overall awareness of maternal mental health down the road.

The isolation, loss of control and not knowing when this will end, “That’s what women are dealing with all the time,” says Wood. She says the pandemic has, and will, prompt an increase in moms experiencing mental health issues. “I think that there’s already evidence that it’s happening,” Wood says.

She, like Schwartz, just doesn’t want moms to suffer in silence. “What you can’t do is just assume it’s gonna go away and tough it out. It will not help you, it will not help your child, it will not help your relationship. It only hurts. ”

Mind Body Baby offers support groups at different times and locations across Charlotte. For the time being, they’ve all moved online.