OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore how first-time mothers in the UK experienced new parenthood during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
DESIGN: This study used a cross-sectional exploratory, qualitative interview design.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten first-time mothers who had given birth since COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
RESULT: Experiences of new, first-time mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic were organized around two themes. First, new mothers felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility for their baby which was heightened by the pandemic. The challenge of meeting this responsibility was heightened in the context of societal expectations to do the 'right' thing and uncertainty and distrust around official guidance about COVID-19. Secondly, the expected transition into motherhood was altered by the pandemic. Disruption to the birthing experience, an inability to connect with close friends and family, and limited healthcare support was perceived to be detrimental. However, altered social expectations and the increased presence of the partner were perceived as positives.
CONCLUSION: Many of the common challenges experienced by new, first-time mothers have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public policy and scientific research must target this group in order to protect this population from the negative impact of the remaining COVID-19 pandemic and any future pandemics.