Fear of Childbirth May Predict Postpartum Depression

A recent study found that women are prone to postpartum depression if they have a fear of childbirth.

Fear of Childbirth May Predict Postpartum Depression

By Victoria Candland Published at December 3, 2017 Views 4,048 Comments 4

The fear of childbirth may be a clear predictor of postpartum depression, according to a recent study conducted by Finnish scientists who analyzed data of more than 500,000 mothers. The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, found that 0.3% of mothers who gave birth to a single child between those years experienced postpartum depression.

Additionally, the study found that 5.3% of women with a history of depression developed postpartum depression. Based on this finding, postpartum depression may be more prevalent in women with a history of depression. While that statistic is more or less to be expected, one of the other findings indicated that one third of Finnish women with postpartum depression had no history of depression.

The researchers discovered that women who don’t have a history of depression, but do have a physician-diagnosed fear of childbirth, are three times more likely to have postpartum depression.

Other risk factors for postpartum depression included caesarean section, pre-term birth and major birth defects. Mothers in the study were more susceptible to these triggers for postpartum depression when they give birth to their first child.

Many mothers experience the “baby blues” after childbirth. Between 50 and 80% of mothers suffer from feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness and restlessness after delivery. These symptoms can worsen and develop into postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can also include symptoms like trouble sleeping while the infant is sleeping, worry about hurting the baby, and a feeling of disconnection or numbness from the child. Although rare, psychotic depression is another sign of postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression not only affects the mother, but the baby. The presence of depression can hinder mother-baby bonding that needs to take place in order for the child to develop and maintain wellbeing. It can also impair the mother’s ability to tenderly engage with the baby.

The percentage of mothers with postpartum depression is much higher in the United States than in Finland. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 to 19% of American women reported having frequent postpartum depressive symptoms.

Yet, the connection found between fear of childbirth and postpartum depression may help mothers and physicians in the United States, Finland, and all other countries. The researchers hope that this discovered link will help healthcare providers better identify postpartum depression and intervene with the necessary treatment.

To learn more about postpartum depression:

Can Postpartum Depression Become Chronic?
Why am I Struggling with Postpartum Depression?
More Than Just the "Baby Blues"

Photo Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance

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