Does Pain After Childbirth Increase Postpartum Depression Risk?

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Researchers have long known that childbirth pain can increase the risk of postpartum depression in women.
Up until now, though, research was predominantly focused on the pain women experienced during labor and delivery. But a new study suggests the pain that follows delivery may be an even bigger issue.
Pain experienced after childbirth, rather than during, may significantly contribute to postpartum depression, according to new research presented at the Anesthesiology 2018 annual meeting.
The more postpartum pain, the higher the risk of postpartum depression
To measure the impact postpartum pain has on new mothers, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied pain scores for 4,327 women from the start of labor through delivery and to hospital discharge.
The participants were first-time mothers who were delivering a single child vaginally or through cesarean delivery, commonly known as a C-section.
The research team then compared the pain scores to the mothers’ Edinburgh postnatal depression scale scores one week after they gave birth.Those who had higher postpartum pain scores were more likely to have postpartum depression. Those who experienced postpartum depression had more pain-related complaints during recovery and required more pain-relief medication.Furthermore, women who had a cesarean delivery were more prone to postpartum depression and had more reports of inadequate pain control.
Researchers also determined that women who were overweight or had a history of depression or anxiety were more likely to develop postpartum depression, as were those whose babies were born smaller and had lower Apgar scores. This is a measurement system used to assess the health of newborns one and five minutes after birth.It’s completely normal to experience some degree of “baby blues,” a mix of anxiety, loneliness, and lethargy new mothers commonly feel after giving birth. But if the negative feelings linger or worsen, it could very well be postpartum depression.
Affecting up to 1 in 7 women, postpartum depression is a very severe mood disorder that causes excessive irritability, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, disinterest in the baby, and difficulty concentrating, the American Psychological Association states.
If left untreated, postpartum depression can take quite the toll on both mom and baby.
“New mothers who struggle with depression often feel they are unworthy of being a mother because of feeling sad and disillusioned at a time when they are ‘supposed to feel’ elated, happy, and celebrating the birth of the baby.”