embed embed2
  • Study: Giving Birth Under General Anesthesia Increases Postpartum Depression Risk

    The research highlights the importance of having a support system for new moms.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Study: Giving Birth Under General Anesthesia Increases Postpartum Depression Risk
  • Each woman’s birthing story is different — some women opt to give birth without pain medication while some need drug-assisted pain management like general anesthesia, epidural, or spinal block anesthesia. But now a new study has found that a mother’s odds of having severe postpartum depression (PPD) can increase significantly when she has general anesthesia for a C-section delivery.

    The study, which was published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, looked at hospital records of more than 400,000 women who had C-sections in New York, United States where more than 34,000 gave birth under general anesthesia rather than spinal anesthesia (where mom stays awake during the surgery). Of those women, 60 percent were diagnosed with PPD and were readmitted about 164 days after being discharged.

    Researchers found that general anesthesia was linked to a 54 percent increased risk of PPD and a 91 percent increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

    What other parents are reading

    “General anesthesia for cesarean delivery may increase the risk of postpartum depression because it delays the initiation of mother to infant skin-to-skin interaction and breastfeeding, and often results in more acute and persistent postpartum pain,” says Jean Guglielminotti, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor of anesthesiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, in a news release.

    Recommended Videos

    “These situations are often coupled with a new mother’s dissatisfaction with anesthesia in general, and can lead to negative mental health outcomes,” he adds.

    According to MayoClinic, general anesthesia is sometimes needed in an emergency. But Dr. Guglielminotti notes it is often used to quicken delivery in emergency situations but there is no evidence that it benefits the baby.

    “Our findings underscore the need to avoid using general anesthesia for cesarean delivery whenever possible, and to provide mental health screening, counseling, and other follow-up services to obstetric patients exposed to general anesthesia,” says Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, co-author of the study and finster professor epidemiology and anesthesiology, in the release.

    What other parents are reading

    The researchers do note that more research is needed, as these numbers are not correlated to a cause-and-effect and are, rather, an observation. But what the study emphasizes is the importance of postpartum support for new moms. Taking care of a newborn is overwhelming, but a lot of moms who go through PPD choose to keep silent for fear of being judged (that what they’re feeling is not real) and dismissed (because they are just overreacting). PPD is a serious condition and more than ever, moms need the support of family and friends and know that they have someone to lean on when the load gets too much to bear.


    The study also highlights the reality of birth trauma. We’ve heard our share of labor and delivery horror stories here in the Philippines, and so mothers would also need help in ensuring that they deliver their baby as close to their birth plan as possible and to get support and care after if their childbirth experience is different from what they expected.  

    The first drug to specifically treat PPD has been approved by the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Click here to read more about it.

    What other parents are reading

View More Stories About
Trending in Summit Network
View more articles