Could Labor Pain Meds Lower Your Risk of Postpartum Depression?

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profile picture of Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
January 30, 2017
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An epidural might be your secret weapon against postpartum depression.

A Chinese study found that women who received epidural anesthesia during a vaginal delivery had a much lower risk for postpartum depression than women who didn’t. How much lower? 21 percent.

“It’s a huge omission that there has been almost nothing in postpartum depression research about pain during labor and delivery and postpartum depression,” says Katherine Wisner, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine perinatal psychiatrist. “There is a well-known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression.”

Wisner thinks this might be about getting off on the right foot. “Pain control gets the mother off to a good beginning rather than starting off defeated and exhausted,” she says. “Whether it’s vaginal or cesarean section delivery, pain control postpartum is an issue for all new mothers. There is no way to have a delivery without pain. The objective here is to avoid severe pain. Controlling that delivery pain so a woman can comfortably develop as a mother is something that makes a lot of sense.”

Interestingly, women who opt for pain medication are also 20 percent more likely to breastfeed.

So…drugs make you happy? Not exactly a novel idea. But plenty of Bumpies are glad they went med-free.

Did you have an epidural?

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