London, Jan 4: Women who are afraid to give birth have an increased risk of postpartum (postnatal) depression.
According to a Finnish study, expectant women with prenatally diagnosed fear of childbirth are at an increased risk of postpartum depression, and the consequences may be severe.
“Postpartum depression may affect the mother’s abilities and skills to engage in delicate interaction with the child, and thus impair the development of an attachment relationship – possibly affecting the child’s later development and well-being,” said the study published in the British Medical Journal “Open”.
After studying over 500,000 mothers in Finland, the researchers came to the conclusion that fear of childbirth puts women without a history of depression at an approximately three times higher risk of postpartum depression – a new observation which may help healthcare professionals in recognising postpartum depression.
The risk of postpartum depression is highest after the first child’s birth.
Postpartum depression was diagnosed in 5.3 percent of women with a history of depression, while approximately a third of women experiencing postpartum depression had no history of depression.
In these women, physician-diagnosed fear of childbirth during pregnancy was discovered to nearly triple the risk of postpartum depression.
Other risk factors included caesarean section, pre-term birth and major congenital anomaly, said the study.
Postpartum depression affects one in every five new mothers in India.
What begins as insecurity, usually within 30 days of the baby’s birth, rapidly expands to other symptoms that typically include sadness or anxiousness through the day that often worsens in the evening; crying spells; low self-esteem; lethargy and sleeplessness.
The milder version is called postpartum blues, where the mother’s feeling of being overwhelmed, low and having difficulty sleeping resolves on its own within a month.