Summer or Fall Baby? Risk of Postpartum Depression Is Higher, Study Finds
Maybe we shouldn't grumble about freezing winters — or those rainy, muddy springs. A study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts suggests that having a baby in winter or spring may have a protective influence on mothers, making them less likely to develop postpartum depression.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Jie Zhou of Brigham and Women’s Hospital said of the study, “We wanted to find out whether there are certain factors influencing the risk of developing postpartum depression that may be avoided to improve women’s health, both physically and mentally.” His team pored over the medical records of more than 20,000 women who gave birth between the months of June 2015 and August 2017.
Of the sample size, 817 women — about 4 percent — reported struggling with PPD. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, irritability, restlessness, insomnia and lack of focus. PPD is considered to be caused by a mix of factors, including hormonal fluctuations, fatigue and the psychological adjustment to becoming a mother.
But why would winter and spring have a protective effect? Study researchers suggested those particular seasons could be linked to "enjoyment of indoor activities mothers experience with newborns." What? Naps, laundry sorting, Netflix and cranking the thermostat? We're baffled — we'd have guessed beautiful fall strolls and gorgeous summer outdoor fun would have had a more positive effect. Talk about counterintuitive.
The study findings were presented in Boston at the Anesthesiology 2017 conference. Another interesting factor? Researchers found that a longer pregnancy equated to lower chances of PPD (also totally counterintuitive to any of us who've ever yelled, "When the hell is this baby coming?") and that not having an epidural increased the risk of PPD (that we can sort of understand... ouch). But there seemed to be no correlation between vaginal vs. C-section births and PPD risk.
So if you're a Type A planner, you might want to schedule a winter or spring baby. You know, if you've got nothing else on your calendar.