Postpartum Depression and Gender of Baby?

Disclaimer: This is one of those posts that I sit with for a while before deciding to post. Partly because I’m not sure how I feel about it and party because I worry it might stir up emotions that are unwarranted and unfounded. Anyway…. in the name of promoting the research relevant to postpartum depression:

In a recent study, “Quality of life, postnatal depression and baby gender“, in the Feb issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, the researchers report on a study of French mothers and the impact of the gender of their babies.

One of their conclusions was that this work is the first to demonstrate that the birth of a boy reduces a number of dimensions of the mothers’ quality of life. Dimensions studied were: physical functioning, physical role, bodily pain, mental health, emotional role, social functioning, vitality, general health, standardized physical component, and standardized mental component. (I’m not sure what the last two refer to.)

They also conclude there is a relationship between the gender of the baby and postpartum depression.

Women who had given birth to boys reported a lower quality of life score in 70% of the cases compared to the women who had given birth to girls, regardless of whether they had PPD.

I’ve seen this in clinical practice when a mother has certain expectations based on her own desires or those imposed by cultural or social beliefs. But I would cautious clinicians and clients not to generalizing from this study.

The lead author, De Tychey says: “We believe that our findings have important public health consequences, as they point to the need for developing prevention and early psychotherapeutic programmes for women giving birth to boys.”

I would add: “or to girls“.

Reference: J Clin Nurs. 2008 Feb;17(3):312-22.

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