C-Section Awareness | Cesarean Sections and Postpartum Depression
Pregnancy and childbirth can be an emotional roller coaster. It’s common for moms-to-be and brand-new moms to experience feelings like joy, anxiety, excitement and fear, sometimes simultaneously. But motherhood can also result in something you might not expect — depression.
After childbirth, many new mothers undergo mood fluctuations, crying jags and sleep disruption. These “baby blues” typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. However, some new moms experience a more serious, long-lasting mental health issue known as postpartum depression, and women who deliver their babies via C-section may be uniquely susceptible to this.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression signs and symptoms may include:
- Severe mood swings, including irritability or anger
- Trouble bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Sleeping or eating too much or too little
- Overwhelming lethargy
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable hobbies
- Anxiety about being an “unfit mother”
- Hopelessness, worthlessness or inadequacy
- Recurring thoughts of harming yourself or your child
C-sections are the most common surgical procedure in the U.S., with doctors opting to deliver approximately one in three babies via cesarean section. However, C-sections require a surgeon to slice through layers of muscle and tissue, which brings a higher risk of infection and leads to a lengthy, painful recovery time.
C-section recovery can last up to six weeks, and the resulting exhaustion and pain can cloud the joy and love you feel in the initial, crucial phases of bonding with your baby. If you barely have the energy to look after yourself, you might struggle to connect with your newborn child.
In some cases, your OB-GYN might schedule your cesarean section weeks before your delivery. You’ll then have a little bit of time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the recovery period and arrange for someone to help take care of your newborn and do household chores. However, if your doctor decided to proceed with surgical intervention after you were already in labor, you might be more vulnerable to the psychological effects of a C-section. For example, emotions after a C-section may include persistent shame or sadness that you didn’t deliver your baby vaginally.
How to Avoid an Unnecessary C-Section
In some cases that represent a health risk to the mother and child, an OB-GYN might decide that performing a C-section is less dangerous than encouraging a vaginal delivery. Thousands of women have high-risk pregnancies or emergency C-sections performed for unforeseen complications such as a breech baby or a dangerous drop in blood pressure during labor.
However, if your labor is progressing as expected and your and your baby’s vital signs remain within normal levels, you can likely deliver your baby vaginally. Women who experience relatively non-eventful, typically healthy pregnancies can take steps to maximize the chances of delivering their child without undergoing major, invasive surgery.
- Talk to your OB-GYN: Ask your doctor how often they perform C-sections and the circumstances under which they’d decide to do one for you.
- Research your hospital: A hospital’s safety protocols also influence whether you end up getting a C-section. Look up your hospital’s cesarean rates.
- Bring a delivery room advocate: Your partner has your best interests at heart, but may be too caught up in the heat of the moment to be level-headed. A doula or close family member can ask doctors and nurses why they’re making specific decisions and speak up on your behalf.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
Having a baby can bring up complicated, unexpected emotions. If you feel exhausted, sad, or disappointed, don’t ignore these feelings. Tell your partner, your OB-GYN or a therapist, and seek help from our treatment program at Pine Grove if your postpartum depression symptoms persist. We specialize in mental health care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth. To learn more and verify your insurance, contact us today.