Higher Risk Of Postpartum Depression From General Anaesthesia During C-section, Study Says

Higher Risk Of Postpartum Depression From General Anaesthesia During C-section, Study Says

Women who had full anaesthesia during delivery were 91% more likely to have thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

General anaesthesia during C-section could lead to higher probabilities of postpartum depression, a study finds. A combination of factors coupled with the effects of general anaesthesia is likely to be responsible.

Postpartum depression has seen a rise in the last decade. This has led to exclusive research on the issue. A study by researchers from Columbia University analysed 428,304 records of women for effects of general anaesthesia administered during C-section. The study was conducted over 8 years from January 2006 to December 2013 in state hospitals in New York.

Anaesthesia During C-section

C-section usually uses regional or local anaesthesia. But, in emergencies, general or full anaesthesia can also be used. The conditions under which women are given general anaesthesia vary from pre-term delivery to health conditions of the mother or the baby.

effects of general anaesthesia

Photo: istock

Women who get general anaesthesia miss on catching the first glimpse of the new-born. Also, the induced sleep prevents mothers from enjoying the first touch and feel of the baby. Effects of general anaesthesia also include delayed breastfeeding.

Postpartum Effects of General Anaesthesia

The study, published in the journal Anaesthesia and Analgesia, found that women who had full anaesthesia during delivery were 91% more likely to have thoughts of self-harm and suicide. About 54% more chances of postpartum depression, is also linked to this condition. Out of the total number of women studied, about 3% of women needed hospitalisation for severe postpartum depression.

Methods Used for the Study

8% of the total count of caesarean cases under survey were given general anaesthesia. Care was taken to exclude cases where patients had general anaesthesia for other surgeries and those residing outside New York State.

The analysis included Postpartum Depression (PPD) as the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes under research were anxiety disorders, adverse psychiatric results, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidality.

Dr. Jean Guglielminotti, lead author of the research, implied that general anaesthesia is not always bad. Previous studies have shown similar results. A 2017 study pointed towards emergency C-section deliveries increasing the likelihood of PPD. Another 2018 study showed epidurals decreasing the risk of PPD. Despite these, Dr. Guglielminotti believes more research is needed for conclusive reports.

How to Identify Postpartum Depression
effects of general anaesthesia

Photo: istock

Postpartum depression is not a new phenomenon, but lack of awareness makes it difficult to treat. If you have had a baby be alert about these warning signs.

  • If the usual dip in the mood does not go away after 2 weeks, talk to your caretaker.
  • Frequent ‘crying spells’, self-blame and acute unhappiness are warning signs.
  • Losing interest in things that you enjoyed, is worrisome.
  • Change in sleep patterns leading to insomnia is not a good sign.
  • Trouble making decisions about common things and a general lack of interest may be early signs of PPD.
  • If you are worrying too much about being a good mum, see your doctor.
  • Stressful events in your life at around this time and lack of support may cause PPD.
  • If you have been having thoughts of harming yourself in any form, it is time to take things seriously.
How to Fight Postpartum Depression

As soon as you or your family identifies any disturbing signs of PPD, talk to your doctor and follow the recommended treatments. On a personal level try the following steps.

  • Breast-feed your baby. Have skin-to-skin contact with the baby. Massage him/her daily. Smile and sing to him/her.
  • Take care of yourself with the right diet and pampering. Take naps while the baby is sleeping. Get out often to enjoy the sun and fresh air. Gradually reintroduce exercise into your routine.
  • Build a support network around you with other mums. Share your feelings with your family and spouse. Have couples’ time as well as family time.
How can Dads Help?
Higher Risk Of Postpartum Depression From General Anaesthesia During C-section, Study Says

Dads can contribute indirectly to help mum ease into Motherhood. | Photo: iStock

The spouse has an important role to play during post-partum.

  • Being empathetic and patient is the first step.
  • Dads must read up on PPD and accompany Mum to the doctor’s appointments.
  • Help with laundry, cooking and other chores.
  • Encourage mum to rest and get uninterrupted sleep.
  • Be there, whether couple-time or decision-making or even entertainment.

Postpartum is just a condition and not anybody’s fault. The sooner you get treated, the sooner you will enjoy your life with your baby.

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Written by

Jia Ling

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