Africa Studio/ShutterstockWhen it comes to giving birth, moms everywhere can agree: No two experiences are the same. From the moment your water breaks to the baby’s first cries, every delivery can take a million different (and unpredictable!) turns. But scientists now believe that some births might have one major thing in common. According to new research, the time of year your baby is born could significantly affect your chances of suffering from postpartum depression (PPD). Watch out for the silent signs you could have PPD.
To determine the factors that might influence the so-called “baby blues” in new mothers, researchers reviewed medical records from over 20,000 mothers who had babies from June 2015 through August 2017. “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,” lead study author Jie Zhou, MD, of Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a statement.
Of the 4 percent of study subjects who suffered from PPD, those who delivered in winter or spring were less likely to get PPD than those who gave birth in the summer or fall. Other risk factors included maternal weight, race, and epidural use, as well as the baby’s gestational age when born, the researchers revealed at this year’s American Society of Anesthesiologists meeting.
Why is PPD more likely in women who deliver in the summer or fall? A few factors might determine their risk. For starters, mothers with new babies often stay indoors to care for their little one, which could make them feel isolated from their social circles—especially when the weather is nice. (Beware of the common myths of postpartum depression, though.)
Previous studies have also linked PPD to low levels of vitamin D. A mother’s vitamin D levels often decrease throughout the winter—when she is not exposed to sunlight as often—so she might lack the vital nutrient when she gives birth in the summer or fall.
But season isn’t the only component to consider. Mothers with increased BMI, as well as those who gave birth to babies with low gestational age or did not have anesthesia, were also more at risk of developing PPD, according to the study findings. The authors also found that Caucasian women could be less likely to suffer from PPD than other populations “due to differences in socioeconomic status among these ethnicities,” Dr. Zhou said.
Although mothers can’t necessarily control the date at which they give birth, they can watch out for common symptoms of PPD if they are at risk. And let’s not forget that men can suffer from postpartum depression, too.