While all expectant mothers wish for a pain free birth, for most it is an incredibly painful experience. New research from China suggests that woman who use pain relief during labour may be at a lower risk of suffering from post-natal depression.
Of the 214 woman who took part in the study, 14% of woman who had an epidural during labour developed post-natal depression compared with 34% of woman who had no pain relief. The study also found that breastfeeding was higher amongst mothers who had an epidural during labour.
Often exhaustion and a traumatic birth experience can lead to post-natal depression, by using pain relief in labour these risks can be minimised. Katherine Wilson, a perinatal psychiatrist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, says ‘There is a well known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression, by controlling the delivery pain a woman can comfortably develop as a mother.'
Post-natal depression effects about 13% of mothers in New Zealand and can develop any time during the first year of the babies life.
Professor Steve Robson, vice president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says that this is an important area for further research. "There may be cultural differences, so I would urge slight caution in interpreting the results, but postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety are incredibly important issues so this link certainly needs to be followed up very carefully." he says
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