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Reactions: one third of women experience health problems more than six weeks after childbirth

A review of epidemiological data examines the physical and psychological complications that occur after childbirth in the medium and long term. More than a third of women reported lasting, and often neglected, health problems six weeks after childbirth. The most common complaints were: pain during sexual intercourse (35%), lower back pain (32%), urinary incontinence (8-31%), anxiety (9-24%), anal incontinence (19%), depression (11-17%) or significant fear of childbirth (6-15%). In their paper, published today in the journal The Lancet Global Health as part of a special series, the authors stress the importance of providing comprehensive health services beyond six weeks postpartum.

07/12/2023 - 00:30 CET
Expert reactions

Salud posparto - Emma Motrico EN

Emma Motrico

Full Professor in the Department of Psychology

Science Media Centre Spain

The review led by Australian Professor Joshua P. Voegel and colleagues, published in the prestigious journal The Lancet Global Health, provides a comprehensive summary of the consequences of poor delivery and postpartum care practices on maternal health. According to the study, these poor practices can cause serious health problems, such as secondary infertility, sexual dysfunction, urinary and anal incontinence, and postpartum depression and anxiety, which can affect up to one in five women.  

Clinical practice guidelines recommend prevention and screening of women at risk, but this service is not being provided in many developed countries, including Spain. Nor in many cases do women receive treatment, with devastating consequences for the health of mothers, which can make it difficult for them to care for their babies.  

The authors highlight the need for health services to adopt evidence-based practices in which the health of mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period are prioritised, professionals trained in these needs are available and mothers are provided with proven information so that they can make decisions about their health during this important stage. Only in this way will maternal health become a reality.

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest

Salud posparto - Eloísa Fernández EN

Eloísa Fernández Ordóñez

Assistant Professor

Specialist in Obstetric-Gynaecological Nursing

Science Media Centre Spain

Improved health conditions have drastically reduced maternal mortality figures. However, a recent study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet Global Health highlights how women's physical and mental health suffers after giving birth. 

Up to a third of women who have given birth experience health problems beyond six weeks postpartum. The data come mostly from developed countries. Researchers warn that women need access to comprehensive quality care and more extensive multidisciplinary follow-up after childbirth.

The author has declared they have no conflicts of interest
Neglected medium-term and long-term consequences of labour and childbirth: a systematic analysis of the burden, recommended practices, and a way forwar
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The Lancet Global Health
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