A recent study finds that women who give birth via unplanned Cesarean view their deliveries more negatively than those who deliver by planned Cesarean or vaginally, although the method of birth shows no differential effects on infants.
The study, to be published in the March issue of Developmental Psychology (Vol. 36, No. 2), followed 570 pregnant women from between 12 and 21 weeks of pregnancy through birth, with follow-ups postpartum. The researchers, Amanda M. Durik, Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, and Roseanne Clark, PhD, all of the University of WisconsinMadison, initially interviewed the women in their second trimester of pregnancy and gave them a questionnaire to measure neuroticism, self-esteem and depression.
Following delivery, the researchers reviewed the women's hospital records and interviewed them for details of their delivery and postpartum recovery. The researchers also videotaped mother-infant interaction and measured the women's depression and self-esteem at four months postpartum and again at 12 months postpartum.
According to their findings, the type of birth had no effect on the infants' psychosocial outcomes. However, women, especially those who initially scored low in neuroticism and who delivered by unplanned Cesarean, viewed their experience more negatively and showed the least positive feelings toward their infants at four months. They found, though, that those negative effects of unplanned cesareans on mother-infant relationships had worn off by 12 months postpartum.
"The finding that infants are not adversely affected by Cesarean deliveries is good news," Hyde says, "especially since between 15 percent and 20 percent of infants born in the United States are delivered by Cesarean."