Women who control their pain during childbirth may be able to reduce their risk of postpartum depression, a new study says.
The study, to be published in the August issue of "Anesthesia & Analgesia," found women who used epidurals during a vaginal delivery had a much lower risk for developing depression.
The study involved 214 women. Half were given epidurals and half had no pain management for their vaginal deliveries, a Northwestern University press release reported. Researchers then looked at their mental statuses three days and six weeks after delivery using a postnatal depression scale.
Women who had an epidural had a 14 percent rate of depression six weeks postpartum. Nearly 35 percent of women who had no pain management developed 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,” Katherine Wisner, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine perinatal psychiatrist, said in the new release. ”There is a well-known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression.”
The study also found that mothers who had epidurals were more likely to breastfeed (70 percent) compared to those who did not (50 percent).
“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.