A new study, “The Influence of Birth Experience on Postpartum Depression: A Follow-up Study” by Michelle Bland at Missouri Western State University, set out to determine the impact a woman’s birth experience has on postpartum depression.
The purpose was to determine whether a woman’s birth experience, control of the birth process, and place of birth (operating room, delivery room, or home) are related to the emergence of postpartum depression. The researcher hypothesized:
“a) the more control a woman has (or feels she has) over her birth experience, the less apt she is to suffer from postpartum depression
b) the more satisfied a woman is with her birth experience, the less likely she is to suffer from postpartum depression
c) the less invasive the birth experience, the more the woman will feel in control, and the more satisfied she is likely to be. Thus, it was predicted that the lowest incidence and severity of postpartum depression would occur in the home birth sample, and the caesarean group would have the highest incidence and severity of depression.”
Much of what they found was consistent with current literature as well as their predicted outcomes. The incidence and degree of depression was found to be associated with the place and type of delivery, as well as the perceived level of control over the birth experience, and the level of satisfaction.
The women who delivered at home were found to have the lowest rates of depression, have felt the most control over their birth experience, and were the most satisfied.
Although the women with C-sections were found to report the least control over their birth experiences, the data regarding their depression levels were inconclusive.