Labor Pain Severity and Postpartum Depression: Is There a Link?

More pain relief during labor equaled lower scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
More pain relief during labor equaled lower scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

HealthDay News — Women who obtain good pain relief during labor may have a lower risk of postpartum depression, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from October 22 to 26 in Chicago.

Grace Lim, MD, director of obstetric anesthesiology at Magee-Women's Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues evaluated 201 women who had received epidural pain relief for their labor. The women answered questions about their pain and reported depression symptoms six weeks after childbirth.

The researchers found a link between the pain relief and the depression risk. Those with more pain relief during labor had lower scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. The link held even after taking into account such factors as a history of anxiety or depression, the mode of delivery, or other coexisting health conditions.

"Labor pain matters more than just for the birth experience. It may be psychologically harmful for some women and play a significant role in the development of postpartum depression," Lim said in a news release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. "We found that certain women who experience good pain relief from epidural analgesia are less likely to exhibit depressive symptoms in the postpartum period."

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