Maternal health after childbirth: results of an Australian population based survey
Article first published online: 19 AUG 2005
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Volume 105, Issue 2, pages 156–161, February 1998
How to Cite
Brown, S. and Lumley, J. (1998), Maternal health after childbirth: results of an Australian population based survey. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 105: 156–161. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1998.tb10045.x
- Issue published online: 19 AUG 2005
- Article first published online: 19 AUG 2005
- Received 12 February 1997 Returned for revision 9 June 1997 Accepted 8 August 1997
Objective To describe the prevalence of maternal physical and emotional health problems six to seven months after birth.
Design Statewide postal survey, incorporating the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, distributed to women six to seven months after childbirth.
Participants All women who gave birth in a two-week period in Victoria, Australia in September 1993 except those who had a stillbirth or known neonatal death.
Results The response rate was 62.5% (n= 1336). Respondents were representative of the total sample in terms of mode of delivery, parity and infant birthweight; young women, single women and women of nonEnglish speaking background were under-represented. One or more health problems in the first six postnatal months were reported by 94% of the women; a quarter had not talked to a health professional about their own health since the birth. Of women reporting health problems, 49% would have liked more help or advice. The most common health problems were tiredness (69%), backache (435%), sexual problems (26.%), haemorrhoids (24.%) and perineal pain (21%); 16.% of women scored as depressed. Compared with spontaneous vaginal births, women having forceps or ventouse extraction had increased odds for perineal pain (OR 4.9 [95% CI 3.–6.]), sexual problems (OR 2.6 [95% CI 1.–3.]), and urinary incontinence (OR 1.81 [95% CI 1.–2.1). These differences remained significant after adjusting for infant birthweight, length of labour and degree of perineal trauma.
Conclusion Physical and emotional health problems are common after childbirth, and are frequently not reported to health professionals despite the fact that many women would like more advice and assistance in dealing with them.