NEW MOMS NEED MORE REST AND RECOVERY
A study in this issue finds that childbirth-related symptoms, particularly among women whose infants were delivered by cesarean section or who breastfeed, are present at five weeks postpartum. Telephone interviews were conducted five weeks postpartum with 716 women and found on average, women reported six postpartum symptoms, most frequently fatigue (64 percent), and never or rarely feeling refreshed after waking in the morning (50 percent). Other highly reported symptoms included breast discomfort (60 percent) and a decreased desire for sex (52 percent).
In this study, women who had delivered by cesarean section had significantly worse physical health than women who gave birth vaginally. When women were compared by delivery type, women with cesarean sections reported significantly decreased physical function and vitality, role limitations, and greater pain. These women were not completely recovered after five weeks, which the authors point out is just less than the six week period usually allotted for recovery from major surgery. This is likely due to the fact that these mothers were recovering both from childbirth and surgery, and also had infant care responsibilities. With cesarean deliveries reaching a record high of 26 percent of all births in 2002, the authors also assert there is a need by the medical community to reassess the growing practice of cesarean deliveries.
Additionally, the study finds that breastfeeding was significantly associated with more symptoms. Breastfeeding mothers experienced significantly more fatigue, breast symptoms, back and neck pain, more constipation and hemorrhoids, sweating and hot flashes, and less desire for sex than women not breastfeeding.
According to the authors, with many new mothers returning to work soon after childbirth, there is a need to reexamine and broaden the defi
Contact: Kristin Robinson
American Academy of Family Physicians