Reducing Pain During Labor May Decrease Postpartum Depression
There are a lot of women who have given birth naturally and felt completely empowered by the experience. There are lots of women who have given birth without medication and have not even found the labor or delivery to be that painful. And there are women who have found the whole thing to be traumatic and incredibly painful.
Myself, I've been on both ends of the spectrum. My first “natural” birth was not so much fun and it was full of twists and turns and surprises that I was very unprepared for, which made the experience even more painful. In fact, I was so nervous from that experience, I cried when I went into labor with my second baby. But ironically, her all-natural birth turned out great and was an empowering experience.
After that, however, I was done and opted for epidurals for my subsequent two more births. I loved being able to experience a pain-free birth and it was interesting how much different the experience could be. For women like me, who do find labor to be painful, one study has some interesting evidence that it may be in our best interest to do everything we can to reduce labor pain.
According to a study by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) that came out in October of 2016, reducing pain during labor through an intervention such as an epidural may help to decrease postpartum depression in some women.
The study found that women who reported having less pain during labor also reported lower rates of postpartum depression. But while the study suggests that helping control pain during labor may lead to lower rates of postpartum depression, it can not prove that. There may be other factors at play. For example, women who naturally have less painful labors or have a higher tolerance for pain may also be genetically disposed to not get postpartum depression. We don't know the exact causes or mechanisms of what triggers postpartum depression. There are many factors that go into it. So really, this study just found a correlation between less pain and lower rates of postpartum depression.
However, doctors see the study as an important step into researching how a woman's experience during her pregnancy can lead into her experience after pregnancy.
“Labor pain matters more than just for the birth experience. It may be psychologically harmful for some women and play a significant role in the development of postpartum depression,” said the lead doctor on the study.
Hey, anything we can do to help decrease postpartum depression is worth looking into, right?
What do you think? Did you notice a correlation between your labor pain and PPD?