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August 15, 2013

Women in big cities may have higher risk of postpartum depression

Having a baby isn’t easy, otherwise everyone would do it and there would be ten kids per family. After 9 months of grueling back pain, frequent urination, sore stretch marks, and squished lungs, the woman is expected to give birth to a watermelon-sized human. If this wasn’t enough, they are then expected to care for said human on limited sleep and with hormones with levels fluctuating worse than a Six Flags roller coaster. Is it any wonder that so many new mothers have a hard time coping?

Baby blues hits 66 percent of new moms

In fact, about two-thirds of new moms experience the baby blues within the first 3 weeks after delivery. Baby blues are characterized by anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and crying fits. However, after about 2 weeks, the symptoms of baby blues should start to fade and the mother should feel more in control and less overwhelmed. A small percentage of moms can’t shake the blues, though, and they end up developing a more severe condition known as postpartum depression.

Rural areas exhibit less depression

Postpartum depression is a form of depression caused by the hormonal fluctuations after birth, sleep deprivation, and the lack of adequate support systems. Researchers have also now found that this depression is more prevalent in urban areas. They looked at data from over 6,400 Canadian women and found that 7.5 percent experienced some degree of postpartum depression. The likelihood was highest in high density populations. If the city had 500,000 or more people, women had a 10 percent risk of depression. About 7 percent of those in semi-rural areas had it (areas with less than 30,000 people) and 6 percent in rural areas (less than 1,000 people) experienced it.

The reason for this variance was not pinpointed, but researchers said, “Supports and services targeted toward increasing connections for isolated women in large urban centers may need to be increased . . . Considering the substantial negative effect of postpartum depression, such interventions could have broad-reaching social and public health impact.”

Risk factors identified

The scientists also listed risk factors for postpartum depression which might help identifying the condition easier, as it can go undiagnosed. Factors included history of depression, lack of social support, severity of labor side effects, and immigration status.


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