Women who give birth with epidural bond better with baby, Israeli study suggests

Researchers from Soroka Medical Center tracked over 230 mothers, found those who did not used pain-relieving procedure were more likely to have postpartum concerns, depression

Illustrative image of a mother with postnatal depression (iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a mother with postnatal depression (iStock by Getty Images)

A study of hundreds of women in childbirth found that mother-infant bonding was impacted among those who did not have epidural analgesia during delivery.

The study at Soroka Medical Center was recently published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Anesthesia.

It found 30 percent more complaints regarding the initial bonding between mother and baby among those who did not have the pain-reducing procedure compared to those who did, including concerns about future treatment of the baby, fear of injury to the baby, and depression.

Prof. Eyal Sheiner, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka and a coauthor of the paper, told Channel 12 news that “bonding has very great importance to the vitality of the mother and especially the newborn.”

The study tracked 234 women who gave birth at the Soroka University Medical Center maternity ward during 2020, of whom 126 (53.8%) had an epidural.

The women were asked to complete two questionnaires, one on postpartum bonding to assess the mother-infant connection and another to assess the risk for postpartum depression.

Researchers also took into consideration pregnancy complications and sociodemographic data.

They said that mother-infant bonding “was significantly higher among women who received epidural analgesia” and that epidurals were “independently associated with a better mother-infant bonding.”

Epidural also demonstrated a trend toward a lower risk for postpartum depression.

Epidural analgesia, which involves an injection into the lower spinal cord, is the most common choice for pain relief during delivery.

According to Channel 12, aside from a recent trend of women choosing to not have epidurals, sometimes even those who do want one are unable due to a shortage of anesthesiologists.

In 2020, a little more than a quarter of women giving birth at the Soroka did so without an epidural, the report said.

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