Research Findings Linking Mother’s Fear of Childbirth and PPD Leave Me Cold

A new study that has recently been garnering much media attention has me perplexed. It was conducted by various Finnish health organizations, and after analyzing over 500,000 childbirths between 2002 and 2010 they concluded that a fear of childbirth is linked to a tripled risk of postpartum depression (PPD).

Whoa! This conclusion troubles me because it reminds me of earlier views by some Obstetricians and Gynecologists who wouldn’t talk to their patients about PPD for fear it would put the thought in their heads. In other words, women are so suggestible, that merely uttering the words postpartum depression might encourage women to catch it.

In my mind, this reluctance to discuss the disorder would be a huge step backwards for it would encourage keeping women in the dark about PPD because of the misguided belief it would lower their risk of getting it. Nonsense, I say. It’s much more preferable to be educated and prepared so that if symptoms during the postpartum period were to appear, the new mom can take steps to get early treatment.

Here’s some more information about the study and see if you get my point.
“Researchers from various Finnish health organizations, including the University of Eastern Finland, analyzed 511,422 single childbirths in Finland between 2002 and 2010. Among these new mothers, 0.3 percent were diagnosed with postpartum depression. 5.3 percent of women with a history of depression were also diagnosed with postpartum depression.
“Approximately one-third of women who experienced symptoms of postpartum depression had no reported history of depression. Women without a history of depression, who were also diagnosed with a fear of childbirth, were at an estimated three times higher risk of postpartum depression.”

Now, this part of the study I can get on board with, “Health care professionals make it a point to inform women that postpartum depression is not a character flaw, but rather a complication of giving birth.”

In order for me to pay more serious attention to all of this information, and to be convinced, I’d need to see better-controlled and replicated studies.

Also, one of the first rules I learned in my graduate school training was.. “correlation does not mean causation.” In other words, even if their research found that women with fear of childbirth had higher incidence of postpartum depression, we have to be careful not to assume this leads to a conclusion that fear of childbirth can cause PMAD.

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~ by ppdsus on January 21, 2014.

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