A new study published on May 8 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, shows that women who became pregnant unintentionally are four times more likely to suffer from postpartum depression at twelve months postpartum.
Unintended pregnancy was defined in the study as both mistimed and unwanted pregnancies. Data was analysed for 688 women at three months and 550 women at twelve months and the results showed that postpartum depression was more likely in women with unintended pregnancies at both three months (11% vs. 5%) and twelve months (12% vs. 3%). The increased risk was highest at 12 months which indicates that this group of women have a long term risk of depression. When age, education level and poverty status were factored into the results, women with unintended pregnancy were still twice as likely to have postpartum depression at twelve months.
The authors conclude that unintended pregnancy may have a long term effect on maternal wellbeing and clinicians could consider pregnancy intention at antenatal visits and offer appropriate support both during and following the pregnancy.
Dr Rebecca Mercier, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of North Carolina and co-author of the research said: “While many elements may contribute to postpartum depression, the results of this study show that unintended pregnancy resulting in live birth could also be a contributing factor. Simple, low-cost screening interventions to identify women at risk could allow targeted intervention when appropriate”.
I find that when women at risk for PPD come in for therapy during their pregnancy they have less symptoms and a shorter duration of symptoms than if they prolong getting help. The sooner they resolve their feeling about the unplanned pregnancy, the less likely they will experience depression postpartum.