Good news for fans of epidurals and every woman who is considering having one some day.

A study has revealed that controlling pain levels during childbirth may reduce the risk of postnatal depression.

If you’re of the “epidurals? Bring ’em on!” school of thought, this news will make you want to high-five science.

A new study has revealed that controlling women’s pain levels during childbirth has an unexpected benefit: it may reduce the risk of new mothers suffering from postnatal depression.

Chinese researchers analysed data from 214 women, and found that 14 percent of women who had an epidural during labour reported suffering depression six weeks after the birth of their baby, Essential Baby reports. In contrast, almost 35 percent of women who had no pain relief during childbirth reported suffering depression during that period.

The study also found that women who attended childbirth classes during pregnancy lowered their risk of postnatal depression, as did women who breastfed their babies, Yahoo News reports.

The study, which will be published in the August issue of journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, notes in its conclusion that further study with a larger sample size is needed ‘to evaluate the impact of epidural analgesia on the occurrence of postpartum depression.’

However, perinatal psychiatrist Katherine Wisner MD described the findings as ‘quite exciting’.

“(F)urther research should be done to confirm them, especially in women at increased risk of postpartum depression and in women from other cultures,” she said in a press release.

“It’s a huge omission that there has been almost nothing in postpartum depression research about pain during labor and delivery and postpartum depression,” she said.

“There is a well-known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression… Pain control gets the mother off to a good beginning, rather than starting off defeated and exhausted.”

If this post brings up issues relating to postnatal depression for you, you can visit Beyondblue: the national depression initiative  online, or call them on 1300 22 4636. You should also talk to your local GP or maternal health professional.

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