he pain experienced by a mother following childbirth, rather than during the labour and delivery process could be linked to postpartum depression Image: Flickr

The pain experienced by a mother following childbirth, rather than during the labour and delivery process could be linked to postpartum depression, that affect about one in nine women, according to a new study.

Postpartum is depression that occurs after childbirth.

The researchers, from the Harvard University, found that postpartum depression was higher among women who were overweight, suffered from a vaginal opening, had a history of depression, anxiety or chronic pain and whose babies were smaller.

Previous studies have demonstrated that postpartum depression was associated with the pain of giving birth. 

However, it was not specified which part of the labour process -- before, during or after delivery -- may be the source of the problem.

"For many years, we have been concerned about how to manage labour pain, but recovery pain after labour and delivery often is overlooked," said Jie Zhou, Assistant Professor at Harvard University. 

For the study, the team reviewed pain scores (from the start of labour to hospital discharge) for 4,327 first-time mothers delivering a single child normally or by C-section.

Mothers with postpartum depression especially who have delivered by C-section, demonstrated more pain-related complaints during recovery and often needed additional pain medication.

"While ibuprofen and similar pain medications are considered adequate for pain control after childbirth, clearly some women need additional help managing pain," said Zhou. 

"We need to do a better job identifying who is at risk for postpartum pain and ensure they have adequate postpartum care."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression can lead to lower rates of breastfeeding and poor bonding with the baby.

Symptoms include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability and changes in sleep or eating patterns 

The results were presented at Anesthesiology, the Annual Meeting of American Society of Anesthesiologists, at Bay-San Francisco.

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