London: Women who choose to delay motherhood until after they have established their career are more likely to suffer from post-natal depression, scientists have warned.
It is perhaps because older mothers are more likely to ‘over-prepare’ for their first-born and struggle when things don’t go as planned.
“There are some indications that older, first-time mothers are vulnerable to postpartum depression, perhaps because they are used to being in control of their own lives: they have completed a long education and established a career before they have children,” the Daily Mail quoted research leader Silje Marie Haga, from the University of Oslo, in Norway, as saying.
“But you can’t control a baby; on the contrary, you have to be extremely flexible.
“Several of the women I interviewed said themselves that this contributed to the huge feeling of letdown when things did not turn out as they had planned,” Haga stated.
The latest study analysed surveys from around 350 new mothers as well as in-depth interviews with 12 first-time mothers. It found 16.5 per cent reported suffering from depression for up to six months after giving birth.
Haga said the interviews highlighted a number of risk factors apart from biological ones.
“It’s not the need for control in itself, but rather the failure to achieve specific expectations that can trigger a depression,” she said.
“In contrast, women who take a more relaxed approach to motherhood with more undefined expectations cope better with unexpected challenges,” she asserted.
Other women struggled after the delivery left them ‘feeling like a failure’.
“In my study the women who had the greatest need for control often had the strongest wish to have a natural birth,” Haga noted.
She added that difficulties with breastfeeding could also trigger baby blues as there is a huge societal pressure to choose breast over bottle.
Haga said new mothers needed both practical and emotional support - particularly from their partner - as well as an understanding that life can be exhausting for them.