Women are at an increased risk for anxiety following a caesarean section, new study finds

One in seven women experience symptoms of postnatal anxiety after giving birth in Australia, and now experts say they believe there is a link between anxiety and caesarean section delivery (c-section).

A new Italian study has found that new mums are at an increased risk for anxiety following elective caesarean births.

Baby being born via Caesarean Section

A study looks into anxiety levels of women following a caesarean section

The study, which is titled: ‘The role of elective and emergency caesarean delivery in maternal postpartum anhedonia, anxiety, and depression’, looked at the effect of emergency c-sections in comparison to elective c-sections.

Over 2,000 women took part in the study, filling out forms 48 hours after delivery. 76% of mums had a vaginal delivery and 23% had a c-section, elective or emergency.

Researchers found that depressive symptoms were significantly more present in women after a cesarean delivery, compared to a vaginal delivery and anxiety levels were significantly higher in the elective c-section group.

“We are very surprised and impressed by the importance of the results we have achieved,” co-author Lara Giliberti told Theravive.

“The anxious disorder detected in the sample, as well as the anhedonic one, can be a predictor of a major depressive development in the postpartum, and it would be suitable for a good perinatologist to know how the type of delivery and the differences between the caesareans affect the maternal feeling.”

mum birth hospital newborn

While there seems to be more than one trigger for feelings of anxiety after birth, pain while in recovery or feelings of guilt could be one of them.

“Psychologically, it is known how anxiety and anhedonia could be considered two different facets competing to the depressive slope,” Giliberti added.

“In both situations, but through different paths and motivations, caesarean delivery has actually resulted in being a risk factor in the development of postpartum depression.”

If you are feeling anxious following birth, c-section or otherwise, we advise you to speak with your GP immediately.

Caesarean sections

baby birth c section

A caesarean section (C-section) is a surgical procedure in which an obstetrician removes the baby through an incision (cut) made in the mother’s abdominal wall and the wall of the uterus.

There are situations where the safest option for the mother and/or baby is to have a caesarean birth, such as the baby is in the transverse or breech position and placenta previa (placenta blocking cervix).

A caesarean planned in advance is called an elective caesarean but there are also unplanned or emergency caesareans, which may be necessary if complications develop during labour.

A spinal combined with an epidural or a general anaesthetic will be used to ensure you have adequate pain relief during the operation.

In Australia, a caesarean is a common and relatively safe surgical procedure, but it is still major surgery. As with all surgical procedures, there are risks. These may include:

  • A longer stay in the hospital.
  • Pain around the incision sites.
  • Complications from the anesthetic.
  • Complications such as blood loss, wound infection, DVT’s, organ damage from the incision.
  • Need subsequent c – sections.
  • Baby may need help with breathing.
  • Skin to skin and breastfeeding may be delayed.

For more information about what choices might be right for you, discuss with your health care provider early in your pregnancy.

Women are less likely to need an emergency c-section if they remain hydrated, study finds

The Healthy Mummy Support Group

healthy mummy support group 28 day challenge

Need support? Look no further than our huge community of mums, who will support and encourage you.

To join our supportive community, click here.