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Post natal depression linked to pregnancy complications

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The risk of post natal depression is increased if the mother experiences pregnancy complications or difficult labour, according to Dutch experts.

Suffering one complication increases the risk of the condition, but the chances are even higher if more than one thing goes wrong.

The researchers analysed data for almost 5,000 pregnant women for the study, 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

One complication meant women were more than twice as likely to get post natal depression overall, rising to more than five times for women who had four or five complications.

All the women were assessed on how they were feeling two months after delivery using a common scoring method.

The scoring ranged from 0, meaning no depression, to 30, meaning very depressed.

Of the total sample, 396 (8%) women experienced post natal depression and tended to be younger and from lower background 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.

Women who are not diagnosed early enough can end up suffering for many months or even years.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Natalie Jewell

    I would completely agree with this from personal experience. I had severe complications during my labour. It took 2+ years to be diagnosed because I just struggled on until I could no longer. I was too embarrassed to go to my GP and admit how I felt.

    It's given me a great insight into depression with my clients though so I have turned the negatives into positives. It's changed my perceptions of mental health problems and made me realise that depressed people sometimes can't face going to see a professional as well as feeling they may be stigmatised, struggle with their employer and be turned away for time wasting.

    We have a long way to go in this country when it comes to supporting depressed people.

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  • My niece ,who is a very dynamic ER nurse, was extremely anxious before the birth of her son. She had an almost phobic experience re the birth. Her aloof consultant midwife was very unsympathetic and told her she should not have become pregnant! As the delivery date drew nearer she tried to express her distress but it fell on deaf ears. She was convinced that something was not quite right...again dismissed. She was made to feel totally inadequate and neurotic. Well, the baby did get into distress and after being denied a c section she was rushed to theatre....ant the cord was tight around the baby's neck...not breathing.
    The baby was delivered and thank goodness was "revived". My niece is now experiencing depression and feels that all this could have been avoided if staff just LISTENED to her. What should have been the most wonderful moment in her life turned out to be the most horrific. And guess what? Our "superior" midwives and nurse consultants are still minimizing her experience and current level of anguish. These very same professionals are often without their own children and have not experienced the wonderful miracle of childbirth.....start to educate the staff during the pregnancy that their attitude impacts hugely on vulnerable mothers. My niece is a nurse and has training...heaven help those who suffer in silence.

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