Risk of postnatal depression doubled by urinary incontinence, study finds

21st June 2011

Women who suffer from urinary incontinence after giving birth are at double the risk of developing postnatal depression, new research has claimed.

Researchers at the McMaster University School of Nursing in Canada looked at 1,900 new mothers in their study and discovered that those who developed postnatal depression were most likely to have been incontinent.

Professor Wendy Sword and her team also found other factors which had an influence on the eight per cent of women who developed the condition, including the mother being under 25 years of age, and whether or not she had been admitted back into hospital.

The research team had initially set out to discover if there was a link between postnatal depression and the mode in which the birth took place, but found no connection.

Instead they discovered the incontinence issue, which Professor Sword said was surprising.

She added: "Urinary incontinence following childbirth has not received much attention as a factor contributing to postpartum depression and we do not yet fully understand the reasons incontinence is linked to depression."

Urinary incontinence occurs because the pelvic floor muscles can weaken during pregnancy, making it harder to tighten the muscles which control the flow of the bladder.

Posted by Phillip Briggs

1. Sword, Wendy et al: "Is mode of delivery associated with postpartum depression at 6 weeks: a prospective cohort study." British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 13th April 2011.

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