Postpartum Depression May Be Linked To Pain After Childbirth, According To Study

Most people are well aware of the fact that giving birth is painful, but not many are taught about the pain that can come after. Often, new moms feel unprepared for managing pain levels after labor and the delivery process. Now, studies are pointing towards the necessity of helping moms through the recovery process. According to new research, postpartum depression can be linked to mother's pain after childbirth.

There are a variety of things that can cause pain after childbirth. For those who experienced a vaginal birth, they may have vaginal soreness, discharge, afterpains, trouble peeing, and other issues as outlined by WebMD. The outlet also noted that while recovering from a c-section, people may experience after-pain, vaginal discharge, and other issues.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is another thing that new moms may have to deal with. It's not to be confused with the "baby blues", which can include mood swings, crying spells, and anxiety, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. Instead, postpartum depression is typically more severe and longer lasting.

There can often be stigma around postpartum depression, which makes it difficult for people to receive an accurate diagnosis or treatment. Understanding postpartum depression and how it develops is key to managing it, though, and new studies are making that much easier.

In the past, pain during childbirth has been linked to postpartum depression. Now, though, researchers are beginning to look into the impact that pain after childbirth may have on new mothers. In new research presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 meeting, researchers presented data pointing to its possible ties to postpartum depression.

For the study, researchers received pain scores (from the start of labor to hospital discharge) from 4,327 first-time mothers who delivered one child vaginally or by c-section, as outlined by Eurek!Alert, and compared those scores to the mothers' Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) score one week after delivery.

They found that postpartum depression was more common in mothers with higher postpartum pain scores. According to Eurek!Alert, mothers with postpartum depression "demonstrated more pain-related complaints during recovery and often needed additional pain medication. Women in the postpartum depression group were more likely to have delivered by C-section. They also had more reports of inadequate postpartum pain control."

This study is the first to actually differentiate postpartum pain from that experienced during labor and delivery. Jie Zhou, lead author of the study, said, according to Eurek!Alert:

"For many years, we have been concerned about how to manage labor pain, but recovery pain after labor and delivery often is overlooked...While ibuprofen and similar pain medications are considered adequate for pain control after childbirth, clearly some women need additional help managing pain. We need to do a better job identifying who is at risk for postpartum pain and ensure they have adequate postpartum care."

Removing stigma around both postpartum depression and the pain of childbirth can help new mothers feel more comfortable seeking help. But, it's also up to medical professionals to identify those who are at risk and help them.