We all know that depression can significantly impact relationships, but something we don’t all know is that childbirth may be a cause of postpartum depression. Depression with relationships can cause many issues within a relationship, so it’s important to be aware of ways to manage, or in the case of the study in this article, prevent depression.
Keep reading to learn all about how childbirth may affect postpartum depression.
Childbirth Pain Study
A provocative new editorial suggests controlling pain during childbirth and after delivery may reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Katherine Wisner, M.D., a perinatal psychiatrist, bases her hypothesis on a Chinese study that found women who had pain control with epidural anesthesia during a vaginal delivery had a much lower risk for postpartum depression than women who didn’t have the epidural.
Wisner’s remarks are found in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia. “Maximizing pain control in labor and delivery with your obstetrician and anesthesia team might help reduce the risk of postpartum depression,” Wisner said. The study findings are among the few to examine the relationship between pain during labor and postpartum depression.
“It’s a huge omission that there has been almost nothing in postpartum depression research about pain during labor and delivery and postpartum depression,” Wisner said. “There is a well-known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression.”
Wisner is director of Northwestern’s Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders. She also is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The Chinese study found that women who had an epidural for pain relief during labor for a vaginal delivery had a 14% rate of depression at six weeks postpartum compared to nearly 35% rate of depression for those who did not have pain relief. An epidural was the only means of pain control available to the women. The study also found that breastfeeding was more common in the group who had an epidural for pain compared to those who did not (70% versus 50%)
“These findings are quite exciting and further research should be done to confirm them, especially in women at increased risk of postpartum depression and in women from other cultures,” Wisner said.
According to Wisner, severe acute postpartum pain occurs in approximately 11% of births. The incidence of chronic pain varies by study but ranges from 1% to 10% for vaginal delivery and 6% to 18% after a cesarean.
A woman who has chronic pain one to two months after delivery should be screened for depression, noted Wisner, also the Norman and Helen Asher Professor at Feinberg. Managing acute postpartum pain supports the new mother’s ability to emotionally attach and care for her infant, Wisner points out.
“Pain control gets the mother off to a good beginning rather than starting off defeated and exhausted,” Wisner said. “Whether it’s vaginal or cesarean section delivery, pain control postpartum is an issue for all new mothers. There is no way to have a delivery without pain. The objective here is to avoid severe pain.”
“Controlling that delivery pain so a woman can comfortably develop as a mother is something that makes a lot of sense.”
Get Couples Counseling in Orange County For Depression With Relationships
If you’re struggling with depression with relationships, taking the step to begin couples counseling could be the first step to strengthening your relationship.
Jennifer De Francisco, MPA, MSW, LCSW, offers couples counseling in Orange County, CA for couples at any stage in their relationship. Her approach provides a safe environment to open and honestly share thoughts and emotions. Through developing a positive, therapeutic relationship, you and your partner can interpret what is going on, both in your life and in the session, creating a better awareness within your relationship.
Contact Jennifer De Francisco by calling (949) 251-8787 or make an appointment online.
Source: Northwestern University