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  • Writer's picturePCOS Vitality (c)

Beyond pregnancy: more than a third of women experience lasting health problems after childbirth

A new study sheds light on the high burden of postnatal conditions experienced by at least 40 million women every year. Many women experience labour-related and childbirth-related morbidity in the medium-to-long term after childbirth (ie, beyond 6 weeks postnatally). The most prevalent conditions are dyspareunia (35%), low back pain (32%), urinary incontinence (8–31%), anxiety (9–24%), anal incontinence (19%), depression (11–17%), tokophobia (6–15%), perineal pain (11%), and secondary infertility (11%). •

Other conditions that occur as a consequence of labour and childbirth are less frequent (or less common), yet still have severe effects on women’s health and wellbeing. These conditions include pelvic organ prolapse, post-traumatic stress disorder, thyroid dysfunction, mastitis, HIV seroconversion, nerve injury, psychosis, venous thromboembolism, and peripartum cardiomyopathy. However, there are scarce population-level data from low-income and middle-income countries, except for postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. • Although high-quality guidelines do exist for some of these conditions, these are mostly developed in, and tailored for, high-income country settings. Available guidelines consistently highlight the importance of good-quality care at birth, systematic clinical assessments, screening of postpartum women to identify those at risk, and prompt management.

The Review authors have called for more recognition of these conditions within the healthcare system not just in terms of typical postnatal care but to prevent future complications that can lead to lasting health issues. Beyond motherhood, people need access to a range of services to help them both emotionally and physically.

You can access the full review here

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