Pregnancy and Parenting Features

Older First Time Mothers at Greater Risk for Postpartum Depression

Grammy & Natalie
Creative Commons License photo credit: donireewalker

A recent study conducted by the University of Oslo (Norway) has found that women who wait to have children until after they have established themselves in a career are more likely to deal with postpartum depression. Roughly 13% of all first time mothers experience postpartum depression. In the study, first time mothers over 40 were more likely (16.5%) to have postpartum depression than younger age groups.

There are many possible reasons why older women are more likely to experience postpartum depression. The research seems to indicate that women who are accustomed to having a large degree of autonomy and control of their own lives find it harder to cope with the changes that having a baby brings. Women who are younger tend to feel less need for control and ten to take things as they come more easily.

Other researchers suggest that it isn’t so much the need for control as it is the tendency to place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Postpartum depression was especially pronounced in women over 40 who also Trouble breastfeeding

  • Delivered via Caesarian section
  • Had trouble breastfeeding their babies

If you are experiencing postpartum depression, regardless of your age at the time of childbirth, let your health care professional know. Your doctor will have helpful suggestions for getting through postpartum depression. Postpartum is a normal condition which affects a large percentage of new mothers, and should not be viewed as weakness or a sign that anything is intrinsically wrong with you or your parenting.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Waiting to Have Children

The fact that the risk of postpartum depression is greater among older women doesn’t negate the fact that there are a number of advantages to waiting to have children. In the first place, waiting until you’ve finished your education and established a career generally puts you in a better position to provide for your baby. Your baby will also benefit from the fact that you have more life experience and maturity than younger first time mothers.

Still, it’s important to recognize going in to childbirth that you are more likely to struggle with postpartum depression if you are over 40. Discuss postpartum symptoms and coping strategies with your doctor before giving birth if possible. The more you know going in, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with postpartum.