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Postpartum health of employed mothers 5 weeks after childbirth.

McGovern P; Dowd B; Gjerdingen D; Gross CR; Kenney S; Ukestad L; McCaffrey D; Lundberg U
Ann Fam Med 2006 Mar-Apr; 4(2):159-167
Most new mothers return to work soon after childbirth. A need exists to reexamine the definition of postpartum health and evaluate employed women's recovery from childbirth in association with such factors as delivery type and breastfeeding. Using a prospective cohort design, we recruited Minnesota women into the study while they were hospitalized for childbirth in 2001. Telephone interviews were conducted 5 weeks postpartum. Eligible women were 18 years or older, employed, and spoke English. Multivariate models using 2-stage least squares were used to estimate factors associated with physical and mental health and postpartum symptoms. A total of 817 women were enrolled (71% response) in the study; 716 women completed interviews at 5 weeks postpartum. On average, women reported 6 postpartum symptoms, most frequently fatigue (64%), breast discomfort (60%), and decreased desire for sex (52%). Findings showed that cesarean (vs vaginal) deliveries were associated with significantly worse physical function, role limitations, and vitality. Multivariate findings showed that the effect of delivery type on physical health was moderately large (beta = -5.96; P = or <.01), and breastfeeding was associated with an increased frequency of postpartum symptoms (beta = 4.63; P = .01). These mothers experienced several childbirth-related symptoms at 5 weeks postpartum, indicating a need for ongoing rest and recovery. Health concerns were greater for women who were breastfeeding and for those whose babies were delivered by cesarean section, suggesting a need for greater support for these women and a reassessment by the medical community of the progressively growing practice of cesarean deliveries.
Occupational-health; Employees; Employee-health; Demographic-characteristics; Sex-factors; Women; Mental-health; Fatigue; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Humans
Pat McGovern, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Mayo Mail Code 807, 420 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R18-OH-003605; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008434
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Organization of Work
Source Name
Annals of Family Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Page last reviewed: August 5, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division