MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Living through the coronavirus pandemic is difficult for all families juggling work, school and stress. But one group facing unique mental health challenges is new moms.

Depression and anxiety affects one in seven women during and after pregnancy. Now, research from the University of Alberta shows the pandemic is creating more struggles.

“What we found is that the moms really are not OK right now,” says study author Dr. Margie Davenport.

The study surveyed 900 women who were either pregnant or new moms. In April and May, nearly 41% had symptoms of depression compared to 15% before the pandemic. 72% experienced moderate to high anxiety compared to 43% pre-COVID.

“We were fully expecting that women would be experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety, but the magnitude of the increase was really quite shocking,” Dr. Davenport says.

New mom Tara Guillot gave birth to her daughter Penelope Mae just weeks into the pandemic. She says social distancing is making many new moms like herself feel more isolated. Her daughter has not met her grandparents yet.

“It was heartbreaking. I felt robbed of people being able to enjoy her. She’s never going to be this little again,” Guillot says.

Women like Guillot are also finding support online. She met Sharibeth Lugo-Kidd through a group called Finding your Village.

“It’s just so refreshing to know that I’m not the only one out there, besides just like me and Tara,” Lugo-Kidd says.

Both moms encourage new parents struggling during this time  to reach out for help.

Physical activity may also help. New moms who got the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week reported less depression and anxiety.

Experts say in addition to exercise, and talking with friends, yoga and mindfulness can also help reduce stress.

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