The impact of COVID-19-related stress on perinatal women is of heightened public health concern given the established intergenerational impact of maternal stress-exposure on infants and fetuses. There is urgent need to characterize the coping styles associated with adverse psychosocial outcomes in perinatal women during the COVID-19 pandemic to help mitigate the potential for lasting sequelae on both mothers and infants. This study uses a data-driven approach to identify the patterns of behavioral coping strategies that associate with maternal psychosocial distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in a large multicenter sample of pregnant women (N = 2876) and postpartum women (N = 1536). Data was collected from 9 states across the United States from March to October 2020. Women reported behaviors they were engaging in to manage pandemic-related stress, symptoms of depression, anxiety and global psychological distress, as well as changes in energy levels, sleep quality and stress levels. Using latent profile analysis, we identified four behavioral phenotypes of coping strategies. Critically, phenotypes with high levels of passive coping strategies (increased screen time, social media, and intake of comfort foods) were associated with elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety, and global psychological distress, as well as worsening stress and energy levels, relative to other coping phenotypes. In contrast, phenotypes with high levels of active coping strategies (social support, and self-care) were associated with greater resiliency relative to other phenotypes. The identification of these widespread coping phenotypes reveals novel behavioral patterns associated with risk and resiliency to pandemic-related stress in perinatal women. These findings may contribute to early identification of women at risk for poor long-term outcomes and indicate malleable targets for interventions aimed at mitigating lasting sequelae on women and children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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