Dr. Nancy Snyderman on Postpartum Depression and Cesareans


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By Jill—Unnecesarean

When I pick up a medical or health care advice book written for consumers, I usually turn right to the index and look for the following terms: pregnancy, cesarean and childbirth to see how they are covered. Considering the fact that the cesarean section is the most frequently performed surgery in the United States and that 80 percent of U.S. women will have a child by the age of 44, it always surprises me that advice for consumers about pregnancy tends to be marginalized in its own shelf in the library or bookstore.

The New York Times best selling book by Nancy Snyderman, M.D., Medical Myths That Can Kill You: And the 101 Truths That Will Save, Extend, and Improve Your Life had a few brief mentions of pregnancy in the book. However, in skimming through the rest of the book, I found an interesting blurb about postpartum depression and cesareans sections in the mental health chapter.


TRUTH: Postpartum depression is a real medical disorder.

Some women become depressed after delivering a baby, and this is termed postpartum depression or the baby blues. No one knows the exact cause, but it is thought to be related to the complex mix of physical, hormonal, emotional, and psychological changes associated with having a baby. For example, the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increase by ten times during pregnancy but plummet after delivery, which could explain a new mother’s unprovoked crying, irritability, and spikes of elation. Women who undergo a Cesarean delivery are highly prone to postpartum depression. Exactly why, we don’t know, but some therapists say that in certain cases Cesarean delivery can cause effects similar to posttraumatic stress syndrome. For some women expecting to give birth by vaginal delivery, having a C-section may bring on frustration, anxiety, or depression. There are ways to prevent or cope with postpartum depression: Ask for help after you get home. Talk about your feelings; suffering alone in silence will only add to your depression. Your body has been through an arduous process, so try to sleep as much as possible after giving birth. Follow a healthy diet. The baby blues are usually transient, lasting only a few weeks. If your depression continues to pull you down, talk to your doctor.