After suffering a headache during her first trimester of pregnancy, the mother of a newborn girl in the United States decided to take to the Internet to educate others about the effects of labor on the child’s brain.
“I was in a rush to get a class on how to birth a baby online,” the woman told ABC News, explaining that the headache left her in a daze.
“My husband and I decided to do it.”
The mother of four said she decided to go on the Internet because she wanted to “help people who were experiencing the same thing.”
“I’m glad I did,” she said.
“I’m sure my friends are also having a headache, too.”
The woman was referring to the headaches experienced by a growing number of women who go online for information about childbirth.
Many of the headaches that women have had have been caused by labor-related stress, including migraines, dizziness and heart palpitations.
“Women are feeling pretty tired right now and there are a lot of symptoms that could be due to labor-induced stress,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Shih, a family medicine resident at the University of California-Los Angeles.
“And it’s not just women who are experiencing these symptoms, but women are also suffering,” she added.
While there is no known cure for labor-associated stress, many doctors recommend that women with chronic stress take time off from work, take time for themselves and/or seek counseling and medication to deal with the pain.
“Some women are going to have to take time away from work,” Dr. Shipp said.
“It can take several months or even a year to really get comfortable with not being around the baby,” she explained.
“This is the kind of stress that many women have in the middle of pregnancy and it can cause the baby to be at a point where it doesn’t really have a lot going on,” she continued.
“And I think that the mother, at this point, is at the point where she’s experiencing these things in the most extreme.”
“It’s just so hard to talk about,” Shipp added.
“But I think the more that we understand what the baby is experiencing, the better chance we have at preventing these kinds of problems.”
While some women report being physically uncomfortable during labor, the most common symptoms are headache, nausea, muscle aches, joint pain, constipation and dry mouth.
A recent study published in the journal Paediatric Neurology suggested that the pain experienced by women during labor is often linked to the amount of stress they have to deal in the first months of pregnancy.
“We don’t know how much stress is going on with this kind of thing,” Dr (now-deceased) Dr. Anthony DiPietro, an OB/GYN at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told ABC.
“We do know that women are at increased risk for postpartum depression and anxiety disorders.”
DiPietros findings were confirmed by a survey conducted in 2011 by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
About 15% of women with labor- and delivery-related complaints experienced labor-linked depression and 40% of those who experienced labor related anxiety disorders.
More than 50% of the women surveyed reported experiencing stress-related symptoms during labor.
DiPiantres research found that the women who had been diagnosed with labor related stress were at a significantly increased risk of developing postpartums depression, anxiety and postparticular pain.
The researchers, led by Dr. Peter A. Stankovic, M.D., found that mothers who reported feeling anxiety during labor were at an increased risk to develop postpartumpic depression and postnatal anxiety disorders such as postpartic dyspnea.
Stankovic said he was not surprised by the findings.
“Most of the research that I’ve seen indicates that stress is a contributing factor in postpartuinal depression and a few other symptoms, so I’m not surprised to see that the symptoms of labor- related stress are also associated with postparturition depression,” he said.
The women in the study were divided into two groups: Those who had experienced labor and delivery anxiety and those who had not.
After the women completed the online pregnancy classes, they were given a test to see if they had postpartumatic depression.
“If they had depression, they would be tested for posttraumatic stress disorder,” DiPienro explained.
“If they did not have depression, the tests would show whether they were free of postpartural depression.”
“We are in the midst of a severe pandemic in our country,” DiMietro said.
He continued, “This is a really, really, very serious pandemic and we need to get this information out there.
Women are dying