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Mental Health and Meditation Practices of Pregnant Women during COVID-19

Author(s): Jennifer Huberty, Megan Puzia, Jeni Green, Chad Stecher

Introduction: The purpose of this paper was to describe pregnant women’s COVID-19 perceptions, mental health and meditation habits compared to non-pregnant women in a sample of meditation mobile app subscribers.

Methods: Women completed the “COVID-19 Health and Well-being Survey” which assessed perceptions of COVID-19 (i.e., worry, attention to news, stress from social distancing), perceived stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, and meditation habits. Propensity scores were used to match the five most similar non-pregnant women to each pregnant woman based on racial minority status, ethnicity, age, household income, education, and residence in a state with a high COVID outbreak rate. Perceptions of COVID-19, mental health, and meditation habits were compared using t-tests and chi-square tests.

Results: Of the 6,157 respondents, 50 were pregnant. The sample was mostly White (88.89%) with a mean age of 37.69 (SD=11.20). Pregnant women were more worried about getting COVID-19 than non-pregnant women and felt that they were taking more precautionary measures to prevent infection. Compared to non-pregnant women, pregnant women had less severe symptoms of depression and PTSD. The amount/frequency of meditation declined during the pandemic (t=2.31, p=.02). Pregnant women reported weaker pre-COVID-19 meditation habits, but larger increases in strength of meditation habits during the pandemic.

Discussion: The strength of mediation habits may play a role in pregnant women’s mental health during COVID-19. Stronger meditation habits may prevent increases in stress despite increased worry related to getting infected by COVID-19 and may reduce symptoms of depression and PTSD.

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