Depression in pregnancy: the studies of a researcher from the University of Pisa awarded

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Depression in pregnancy

Martina Smorti, professor ofUniversity of Pisa, è fra i Paladins of the Paeseni della Salute. The recognition of her was conferred on her last October 26 in the Capitol for her studies on trough pregnant. His research published in the "Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology" focused on the impact of depression in clinical aspects of childbirth, revealing important information. We asked her to tell us about her research and to give us some advice to help pregnant women suffering from depression.

In this article

  • Research on depression in pregnancy
  • The impacts of depression on childbirth
  • Prenatal attachment: how to help the expectant mother develop it
  • Preventive interventions for women suffering from depression
  • Advice for new mothers suffering from depression
  • Future studies

Research on depression in pregnancy

Professor, how did you conduct your research?

"The research was conducted on a sample of 220 women in 'last trimester of pregnancy, who accessed basic routine services, such asechography of the third quarter. They were given a questionnaire, then at the time of birth the doctors found some data such as the duration of the birth, the quantity of epidural and oxytocin administered, the overall well-being of the child. We observed under what conditions one was required greater operability during childbirth by doctors, to verify the hypothesis that, in the case of depression, childbirth is more complex ".

The impacts of depression on childbirth

What are the impacts of depression on childbirth?

"The results showed that depressive symptoms in pregnant women affect thecourse of childbirth and on well-being of the child. Childbirth tends to be more lungo e tiresome and more frequently requires medical intervention, for example with the administration of epidural and oxytocin. However, a deep bond with the child, the development of a feeling of affection can reduce this negative impact by making the birth more serene and physiological ".

Read also: Daddy depression puts children's mood at risk

Prenatal attachment: how to help the expectant mother develop it

We read in the article that prenatal attachment is a factor that can counterbalance these effects: what does it consist of and how can we help the future mother to develop it?

"It's a bond that usually develops in a way spontaneous and natural, not immediately, but after a few months. Particularly when mom starts listening to i movements of the child and speak with him when it is in baby bump. With these small attentions you create a attachment even before giving birth: we can therefore advise future mothers to listen to the movements, to talk to the baby, to sing and recite nursery rhymes to the baby in the belly and to start engage in a relationship, for an affectionate dialogue with him. It could for example to imagine the reasons for a movement: maybe he is angry, or he is happy because dad has arrived. Giving meaning, even imaginative, to the child's activity, lays the foundations of a bond and is very useful because it allows you to develop one parental sensitivity which will prove essential after childbirth. I also recommend holding a pregnancy diary, noting perceptions and moods of the mother in relation to the movements of the child. Thus one is generated reflection on a person who is not yet there, but with whom it is necessary begin to relate".

Preventive interventions for women suffering from depression

What preventative interventions in your opinion should be implemented for women suffering from depression?

"The hospital should offer aconsulting activity at the department of gynecology, where pregnant women requiring hospitalization are hospitalized. We try to understand how they are, we encourage the dialogue and let's make sure they don't feel alone. It is about understanding the nature of any disorder from which the woman suffers. A little bit of fear, in fact, it is physiological. On the other hand, anxiety and depression represent a further step. In any case, the psychological and emotional support is critical. In more serious situations, a pharmacological intervention, which however acts only immediately, on the symptoms. For this reason, I recommend always adding a psychotherapy course that helps the woman to focus on positives relationship with the child. The intervention must therefore be integrated and act on two levels ".

Read also: Postpartum depression: what it is, how to recognize it, how to overcome it

Advice for new mothers suffering from depression

What would you say to a woman suffering from depression and about to become a mother?

"It can be useful to talk about childbirth as a moment that can be painful, as it involves a separation, but which ends with a meeting: mother and child can collaborate to achieve this goal together: the realization of motherhood. We try in every way to shift attention to positive emotional states. Pregnancy changes in any case balance area of woman and pair: therefore aparticular attention by both new parents to find a new organization for the whole family. Finding a different balance in personal and couple life can be tiring because it requires you to bargaining tasks, roles and responsibilities but it is functional to the adaptation of the couple to the new child. In any case, if the woman is suffering from depression, she does not go never blamed. And if his disorder is a true clinical depression it must be supported with the right support psychotherapeutic and possibly pharmacological ".

Read also: Postpartum depression, here you can find help

Future studies

After this recognition, what will your next steps in research be?

"We started working on effects of Covid on pregnancy. One of the things that struck us the most is that during the pandemic, while women with one normal pregnancy, carried on at home, have undergone a increased depressive symptoms because ofisolation and the perception of loneliness, women hospitalized due to complicated pregnancy reported in fashion significantly less this increase, because in hospital they could recreate a kind of community (obviously in the covid free departments), for example with the roommate and with the staff, sharing with other people the experience of pregnancy. The other plan we are working on is the pregnancies that occur as a result of major losses like neonatal bereavement, when the memory of the loss is still very much alive. If the couple succeeds in process independently, or with external support, what happened, the new pregnancy becomes a moment in which the couple flourishes again, the moment of the birth of a more conscious parenting. If, on the other hand, there has not been the mental or material space to process the loss, the risk is that it will result more difficult develop a attachment to the child, for fear of losing it or because it is perceived as a substitute for the first, who failed to live ".

The interviewee

Martina Smorti, psychologist and psychotherapist, is associate professor of Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology at the University of Pisa. You mainly deal with the study of risk behaviors in young people and psychological well-being in the perinatal period. Her research published in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology focused on the impact of depression in clinical aspects of childbirth.

  • pregnancy depression
  • childbirth and depression
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