Difficult pregnancies lead to post-natal depression

Women who experience pregnancy complications or a difficult labour have a higher risk of experiencing post-natal depression, scientists will say today.

Suffering one complication increases the risk of the condition, but the chances are even higher if more than one thing goes wrong. Dutch researchers analysed data for almost 5,000 pregnant women for the study, which was published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

They found that women admitted to hospital during their pregnancy had more than twice the risk of post-natal depression as those who stayed out of hospital until delivery time. Women who experienced pre-eclampsia (linked to high blood pressure) were also more than twice as likely to suffer.

Having an emergency Caesarean section increased the risk 1.5 times, similar to the risk if a baby was admitted to hospital after birth or if there were concerns during labour that the baby was in distress.

All the women were assessed on how they were feeling two months after delivery using a common scoring method. Of the total sample, 396 (8 per cent) of the women experienced post-natal depression and tended to be younger and from lower levels of education than those who did not suffer.

Around one in 10 of all pregnant women are known to get the condition, which mostly occurs in the first three months after delivery. It can range from mild symptoms – sometimes called the "baby blues" – to clinically diagnosed post-natal depression.

Pauline Jansen, from Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, and co-author of the paper, said: "Our study showed that various complications during pregnancy and delivery are associated with an increased risk of postpartum depression in women two months after giving birth."

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