The Stress of Parenting in the Postpartum Period During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ka Derricka M. Davis, Layna Lu, Brittney Williams, Maria V. Roas-Gomez, Karolina Leziak, Jenise Jackson, Joe Feinglass, Lynn M. Yee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic produced a major shift in parental roles, which disproportionally exacerbated existing challenges for low-income new parents. Our objective was to identify pandemic-related parenting challenges experienced by low-income postpartum individuals in the context of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Semistructured interviews with 40 low-income postpartum individuals were conducted within 10 weeks after giving birth in April 2020–June 2020. Interviews addressed maternal health and well-being, parental stress, including COVID-related barriers to providing for children, and access to essential services. Interview themes were developed using the constant comparative method. Results: Half (n = 20) the participants identified as non-Hispanic Black and 38% (n = 15) as Hispanic; 75% (n = 30) were parents of multiple children. Parenting-related themes included challenges of parenting multiple children, barriers to maintaining self-care, and novel barriers to providing for children. Participants discussed handling new roles as educators, struggles with entertaining, allocating time among children, and effects of the pandemic on older children. Participants frequently described their lack of alone time, changes in self-care and coping strategies due to continuous parenting, and effects on maternal mental health like increased anxiety. Many participants reported lack of communal support, financial stress, and difficulty accessing services. Conclusions: New burdens introduced by the pandemic challenged low-income individuals’ health and wellbeing. Understanding these psychosocial stressors and developing interventions to ameliorate these burdens may be key to promoting family health during difficult times; one potential solution for preventing postpartum depression is offering continual social services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-903
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • parental challenges
  • parental postpartum challenges
  • postpartum
  • postpartum health care
  • women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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