New Study Finds Strong Link Between Postpartum Pain And Postpartum Depression

A new mother’s emotional and physical pain is often overlooked when she is trying to care for her child which can get too overwhelming and lead to postpartum depression

Some women often wonder at their sheer lack of happiness, despite knowing that they have just given birth to a life that they sustained within themselves. While its subjectivity can be debated upon, let this staggering statistic settle in – one out of nine mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD).

According to a new study by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, physical pain after childbirth is a strong contributor to mothers’ developing postpartum depression, a report by Science Daily confirms. They suggested that if they understand how the pain manifests in different ways, tackling it could be key to aiding the treatments of postpartum depression in women.

There are multiple factors that could contribute to its onset – like lack of social support, family history of depression, motherhood in teenage years, having a child who has been hospitalized, being a single mother, etc. However, irrespective of the first cause of this type of depression, its effects can be significantly harmful to the mother, and getting help at the earliest is probably the best course of action.

We treat these multiple causes with caution, but the same caution is often seen lacking when it comes to the role that physical postpartum pain plays in causing PPD.

One of the common experiences that women with fourth-degree tears faced after childbirth were postpartum depression. A fourth-degree tear due to childbirth refers to the postpartum vaginal tear that extends to the anus or rectum. Not only did this group of women undergo one of the most painful emergency surgeries, but also exhibited symptoms of PPD, as well as PTSD and severe anxiety.

Furthermore, despite going through these life-altering changes in their bodies, these mothers often also felt that their emotional and physical pain was not really given the attention or the care that they need. Moreover, they reported feeling that these pains were silenced and stigmatized.

“Women injured traumatically during birth are overlooked, and as a result, feel overwhelmed. Told again and again that they’ll ‘forget the pain’ and to ‘enjoy the baby’ as they recover,” one of the mothers told Scary Mommy.

According to Science Daily, there have been studies that have suggested this possibility that there could be between pain in childbirth and postpartum depression. However, this is likely to be the first time that researchers specifically investigated postpartum pain and PPD—and the results are strong and convincing.

“For many years, we have been concerned about how to manage labor pain, but recovery pain after labor and delivery often is overlooked,” said Dr. Jie Zhou, lead author of the study. “Our research suggests we need to focus more on helping new mothers manage pain after the baby is born.”

Wow. So new mothers were not only expected to care for the newborns on their own, but also make sure that they can work through the pain, often with little or no regard to its effects on their mental wellbeing. We are not saying that women can’t do it, but it’s a bit unfair, isn’t it? It is surprising to know that society looks down upon the mothers who raise their voices regarding their postpartum problems. And to top it all, some people also expect new mothers to just know all of this from the start?

While conducting their research, Dr. Zhou and his team looked at pain scores from 4,327 first-time moms who delivered either vaginally or via C-section at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They compared these moms’ pain scores with their Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) scores at one week postpartum.

The researchers found that moms who scored high for PPD also scored high on the pain scale, leading Dr. Zhou and his team to note that PPD was “significantly associated” with increased levels of postpartum pain. This find clearly outlines the impact of poor attention given to postpartum pain in new mothers. Furthermore, these results can help spread more awareness about holistic postpartum care that mothers deserve.

“While ibuprofen and similar pain medications are considered adequate for pain control after childbirth, clearly some women need additional help managing pain,” said Dr. Zhou. “We need to do a better job identifying who is at risk for postpartum pain and ensure they have adequate postpartum care.” The treatment, hence, should consider a perspective that is beyond just the treatment of pain, but it should also be to allow mothers to freely communicate what they are going through – without the stigma or stoicism. Moms need better, kinder, more comprehensive postpartum care. Pain and PPD need to be taken with utmost seriousness. No mom deserves to suffer.