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September 17, 2021  
UTERINE NEWS: Feature Story

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  • No Link Between Baby Blues and Caesarian Sections

    No Link Between Baby Blues and Caesarian Sections

    April 11, 2005

    By: Jean Johnson for Uterus1

    The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is handy list of questions about sleeping and laughing and general happiness. The scale was published in the British Medical Journal in 1987, so perhaps it’s in keeping with British Isles themes that an update on postnatal depression and caesarian sections came out in 2005. That said, not much is new on the score of depression in the days following the birth of a child.

    Baby Blues
    What Are They?
  • Sadness and loss of interest in life
  • Emotional instability and tearfulness
  • Irritability and anxiousness
  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue
  • Guilt and feelings of worthlessness

    How Long do They Last?
    Symptoms usually start three to four days after delivery and usually subside within 10 days. Depression within six months of delivery may be post partum depression.

    Baby blues are treated much like any other form of depression:
  • Support
  • Counseling
  • Medication

  • The baby blues are much as folks have thought them to be for decades now – a rather unfortunate, but nonetheless, quite common aspect of childbirth that is largely affected by hormones and the mother’s larger life context and influences. Nonetheless, that the study which questioned 14,000 women eight weeks after delivering full-term healthy infants confirmed current medical thinking was gratifying to those in the field – not to mention expectant mothers wondering how the option of having a caesarian section might affect the condition.

    “There is no risk of postnatal depression to be managed differently with regard to mode of delivery,” concluded the study. “Women who plan vaginal delivery and require emergency caesarian section or assisted vaginal delivery can be reassured that there is no reason to believe that they are at increased risk of postnatal depression.”

    Conversely, said professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Dundee in Scotland and one of the authors of the study, Deirdre Murphy, “It suggests that a worry about postnatal depression is not good grounds for offering caesarian section.”

    As to why Scotland researchers were inspired to investigate the topic, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Jillian Romm, RN, LCSW, said “They probably wondered if there was something about recovering from surgery like a caesarian that would impact a mother’s mood.”

    “My assumption has always been that post partum mood disorders are really related to the hormonal shifting that happens with birth and to some extent the context of a woman’s life and the support she has around her. So it’s unlikely that this type of depression would be related to the method of delivery.”

    Romm called the results “underwhelming” adding that “okay, we probably knew all this but it’s nice to know that it’s been looked at scientifically.”

    Perhaps one of the reasons for the baby blues study is a history of poorly-understood depression in new mothers. Indeed, one 11th century gynecologist, Trotula of Salerno, wrote that “if the womb is too moist, the brain is filled with water, and the moisture running over to the eyes, compels them to involuntarily shed tears.”

    More, since it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that women got into the medical profession in significant numbers, they’ve only been able to make inroads into the field of gynecology for a few decades. Given that track record, it’s a bit easier to see why researchers in the British Isles thought it prudent to check and double check.

    Last updated: 11-Apr-05

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