THE INFLUENCE OF BIRTH EXPERIENCE ON POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: A FOLLOW-UP STUDY
Posted Jun 06 2009 11:20pm
Not surprising, this study found that a woman's birth experience is directly correlated to her incidence of Postpartum Depression. My difficult, invasive, and disappointing childbirth experience certainly contributed to my postpartum mood issues. Even now, I struggle to overcome the sadness, grief and guilt that I have as a result of an emergency c-section (when I had planned for a completely natural and vaginal childbirth). While this may not change birth outcomes or the occurrence rates of PPD, I think knowing this ahead of time, as well as helping moms realize that specific expectations about birth usually are unachievable, would help to prepare families.
Here's a snippet... It was hypothesized that a.) the more control a woman has (or feels she has) over her birth experience, the less apt she is to suffer from postpartum depression, b.) the more satisfied a woman is with her birth experience, the less likely she is to suffer from postpartum depression, c.) the less invasive the birth experience, the more the woman will feel in control, and the more satisfied she is likely to be. Thus, it was predicted that the lowest incidence and severity of postpartum depression would occur in the home birth sample, and the caesarean group would have the highest incidence and severity of depression.
For the women who gave birth at home and the women who delivered vaginally in a hospital, the findings of this study were consistent with the current literature on an internal locus of control and lower levels of depression. Cohan, Pimm, and Jude (1998) note that informed patients who feel in control of their situation have quicker recoveries and are less prone to depression than patients who exhibit an external locus of control (feel that their fate is determined by others). The results were inconclusive for the caesarean patients. However, these results were consistent with the findings of these researchers that control is abdicated under general anesthesia and in surgery. Thus, the findings that women who had a caesarean (surgical) delivery had the least control over their delivery, and women who had a home birth had the most control (with vaginal hospital patients having a significantly distinct level of control between these two groups) were consistent with the current literature and the predicted outcome for these groups.
For the women who gave birth at home and the women who delivered vaginally in a hospital, findings regarding satisfaction levels and type of delivery were consistent with the current literature on satisfaction and postpartum depression.