We already know PPD can have a major impact on the emotional and physical health of a new mother. But now, a British study published in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health says postpartum depression adversely affects female fertility as much as having major birth complications. In fact, women who experience depressive symptoms within 12 months of giving birth are less likely to have more than two children, even more so perhaps than if they experienced a traumatic birth.
According to HNGN, researchers looked at 300 women born between 1930 and 1967 who lived in industrial Western countries while raising their kids. What they discovered was that suffering from postnatal depression has significant, long-term effects on families. Moms with PPD experienced significantly lower fertility levels versus moms who never had depressive symptoms. This phenomenon was observed most acutely in women whose symptoms occurred after a first baby.
What I found interesting is that when a woman did experience PPD after a first child, she was not less likely to have a second baby, but she was less likely to go for a third. Perhaps a second bout of depression was enough to convince her another pregnancy wasn't in the best interest of her health or her family's well being?
The takeaway: Postnatal depression is a very serious condition that can lead to multiple poor outcomes for moms and their families. The CDC estimates as many as one in 10 women experience depressive symptoms after birth. If you're one of them, there is no shame in what you're feeling; please seek help. Talk to your doctor, ob-gyn, or midwife as soon as possible.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.