Scand J Caring Sci - (-) - [2022-05-27; online 2022-05-27]
Most perinatal research relating to COVID-19 focuses on its negative impact on maternal and parental mental health. Currently, there are limited data on how to optimise positive health during the pandemic. We aimed to bridge this knowledge gap by exploring how women have adapted to becoming a new parent during the pandemic and to identify elements of resilience and growth within their narratives. Mothers of infants under the age of 4 months were recruited as part of a wider UK mixed-methods study. Semi-structured interviews with 20 mothers elicited data about how COVID-19 had influenced their transition to parent a new infant, and if and how they adapted during the pandemic, what strategies they used, and if and how these had been effective. Directed qualitative content analysis was undertaken, and pre-existing theoretical frameworks of resilience and post-traumatic growth (PTG) were used to analyse and interpret the data set. The findings show evidence of a range of resilience and PTG concepts experienced during the pandemic in this cohort. Salient resilience themes included personal (active coping, reflective functioning, and meaning-making), relational (social support, partner relationships, and family relationships), and contextual (health and social connectedness) factors. There was also evidence of PTG in terms of the potential for new work-related and leisure opportunities, and women developing wider and more meaningful connections with others. Although further research is needed, and with individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, these findings emphasise the significance of social support and connectivity as vital to positive mental health. Opportunities to increase digital innovations to connect and support new parents should be maximised to buffer the negative impacts of further social distancing and crisis situations.