Postpartum Depression Linked to Mom's Recovery Pain After Childbirth

by Karen Gaudette Brewer Contributing Editor

How well a new mother’s pain is managed during her recovery from childbirth appears to directly influence her risk of postpartum depression. Doctors should strive to identify moms who may need more than ibuprofen to endure pain, and provide adequate postpartum care, suggests new research presented at the Anesthesiology 2018 annual meeting in San Francisco.

Previous studies have connected the pain of labor and delivery to the extreme sadness, low energy, and anxiety of postpartum depression without specifying childbirth recovery pain as a significant risk factor. In this study, researchers reviewed pain scores for 4,327 first-time mothers delivering at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital between June 2015 and December 2017. They compared those scores with the mothers’ Edinburgh postnatal depression scale scores one week after delivery and found depression associated with higher postpartum pain scores.

“Our research suggests we need to focus more on helping new mothers manage pain after the baby is born,” said lead author Jie Zhou, M.D., M.B.A., and assistant professor of anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Postpartum depression affects about 1 in 9 women and can lead to lower rates of breastfeeding and poor bonding with the baby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Karen Gaudette Brewer
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Karen Gaudette Brewer

Karen Gaudette Brewer is an author and longtime journalist with an extensive background in public policy, government, food, and wellness. She's the Executive Editor emeritus of HealthCentral following staff roles at, The Seattle Times, and The Associated Press. She's honored to help illuminate the daily experiences of those who live with invisible illnesses to increase understanding and ease stigma.