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Brigham And Women's Study Finds More New Moms Struggling With Depression In Pandemic

BOSTON (CBS) - Welcoming a new baby is typically an exciting time for any family. But a new report finds pregnant women and new moms are struggling with their mental health during the pandemic.

Mother-of-three Cassie Bonstrom welcomed a new life in the pandemic but she also suffered a great loss. Her mom, who was already battling cancer, died of COVIID-19 just before her new granddaughter was born.

"My mom wanted nothing more than to hold this baby," she said. "In my grief. I gravitate towards my family. I just want everyone to be together, and that's what we can't do right now."

Pregnancy can be a stressful time for new moms. And the pandemic is adding even more challenges.

"Do we want to deliver early to get in and out of the hospital? And that I think is where the anxiety of pregnancy during a pandemic really set in for me," Bonstrom said. "What is the best thing for me to do during this time for my health and my baby's health?"

A recent survey from Brigham and Women's Hospital with pregnant or postpartum women finds 36-percent reported clinically significant levels of depression. Rates were typically 15-to-20 percent pre-pandemic.

"One out of five women reported clinically significant anxiety," said study author Dr. Cindy Liu. Liu says some women are coping with grief, loss or disappointment.

"Losing out on major milestones, feeling like they couldn't really celebrate the joy of having a baby, that grief is actually associated with higher levels of mental health problems."

Read: CDC Advice For Coping With Stress During The Pandemic

About 20 percent of new moms reported being very worried about the health risks related to COVID-19.

Bonstrom says she's doing the best she can to get through it.

"My mom would have wanted us to create special memories with our children now, and to be as happy as we can and be together," she said.

And she believes babies like hers will be resilient, just like their mothers.

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