An emergency cesarean section is hard on a mother for many reasons. Most often, the need means that there is an inherent danger to mother and/or child, and this is terrifying in itself. Additionally, it is not ever part of a mother's birth plan, and dreams for a peaceful birth process go out the window.
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A study from the University of York in the United Kingdom has found that first-time moms who have emergency c-sections have at least a 15% higher chance of developing postpartum depression. The study looked at 5,000 first-time moms.
The researchers looked at emergency c-sections to see the effect of recovery as opposed to those who have elective cesarean procedures. Dr. Valentina Tonei is with the department of economics at the University of York and said that the researchers wanted to look specifically first-time mothers who find themselves in an emergent situation.
For those mothers, the process itself can be more traumatic because they're emergent and recovery can be difficult as well. They found that unplanned/emergent c-sections can have even more negative a psychological impact because not only are they physically impacting, they are mentally exhausting due to the loss of control and unmet expectations about their births.
Because of the mental and physical toll, researchers believe it makes sense that new mothers with emergent surgeries are at increased risk for postpartum depression, and doctors and providers should be sure to follow up with their patients frequently to monitor postpartum depression symptoms.
Dr. Tonei says that this study is important because new mothers who face emergent c-sections may need increased support systems as a result of their experiences.
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On a personal note, it should be added that sometimes emergent situations are ones in which the baby doesn't survive. That was my case, as I was nearly 42 weeks and required an immediate emergency c-section when my water broke and I began bleeding. My son was born, but died the next day, and my clinicians and support system immediately began to surround me with resources, shoulders to cry on and follow-ups that lasted for months and months after my son was born. I truly believe this was key to me not developing postpartum depression, and that care is a must for any woman who has an emergent c-section.