New Study: Emergency Cesareans Increase Risk of Postpartum Depression

The number of C-sections performed around the world has increased dramatically over the last few decades. A recent study from the University of York has taken a look into the link between emergency cesareans and postpartum depression. The author of the study, Dr. Valentina Tonei,  has called for more support and resources for the mental health of mothers who have C-sections, emergency or otherwise.

We wanted to discuss the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, the findings of the study, and how we can help provide you with the best possible postpartum care.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is defined by The Office on Women’s Health as:

“A serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health.” While many women experience what they call the baby blues, PPD lasts longer and brings on feelings that aren’t expected for new mothers.

Symptoms of PPD

While it’s different for everyone, postpartum depression does have some common symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Feeling restless or moody
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Having thoughts of hurting the baby
  • Having thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Having no interest in or connection with your baby
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, or like a bad mother
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

You can read more about PPD and the symptoms here. 

Study Overview

There are approximately 25,000 unplanned C-sections in England each year. For this study, the University of York selected 5,000 women from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which represents the UK population. In order to eliminate the effects of previous births, the women selected were all first-time mothers who had to have an emergency cesarean.

The study then isolated the effects that unplanned C-sections had on first-time mothers’ psychological well-being. They conducted research in the first nine months after delivery by taking note of factors like the resources and staffing levels in hospitals. The study also took the mental health history of the mothers into account.

Results of the Study

The University of York study has found evidence that emergency C-sections puts a greater risk of mental health problems on new mothers. Dr. Tonei believes the results are extremely important because “…they provide evidence of a causal relationship between emergency C-sections and postnatal depression.”

She noted that unplanned C-sections might have this negative impact on mothers because they’re just that: unexpected. That can take a toll on a mother’s mental and physical health, and make them feel like they’ve lost control.

While there has been recognition for the cost associated with C-sections, Dr. Tonei believes that there are “hidden costs” that come with the surgery as well. She hopes that the evidence found in this study can shine a light onto the link between emergency cesareans and postpartum depression.

Postpartum Care at A Woman’s Healing Center

Our doctors at A Woman’s Healing Center are all board-certified obstetricians. Between each of them, they have provided prenatal, labor & delivery, and postnatal care services for more than 16,00 babies. That’s a lot of experience! We pride ourselves on our ability to develop quality relationships with our patients and help them have a positive labor & delivery experience, no matter how complicated.

The most important step in being diagnosed with PPD is to speak to someone about your symptoms. Many women feel embarrassed about their feelings, and decide not to speak up. If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, please reach out to one of our doctors. You can call us at any time of day or night at (970) 419-1111.  If it is outside of our normal office hours, our answering service is available for emergency calls. You can also find more resources on postpartum depression and our labor and delivery services below.

Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help or bring up any feelings you might have following the birth of your baby.  We’re here for you and ready to help.  It’s normal to go through a range of emotions following the birth of a baby – both good and “bad” emotions – and you are not alone.

Additional Resources on Postpartum Depression.