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Postpartum morbidities in Iranian women 5 years after childbirth: A longitudinal study

02 April 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 4



Awareness about the extent of maternal physical and emotional health problems after childbirth is increasing, but few longitudinal studies have been published.


The aim of this study was to describe changes in the prevalence of maternal health problems in the 5 years after birth and their association with parity.


A population-based cohort study was conducted in Mahabad, a city in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. The study population comprised women who visited public health-care centres for routine antenatal care from May 2009 to September 2013.


Based on a sample size analysis, 311 women were recruited to the study. Over the 5-year period, 32 participants were lost to follow-up, with a total of 279 participants completing all five stages of the research. Overall, the majority (94%) of postpartum morbidities did not resolve within the first week, and 26% of participants reported experiencing issues 5 years postpartum. Adjusting for the method of birth, primiparous women were more likely than multiparous women to report fatigue at all stages, and sexual problems were most frequently reported by multiparous women.


Health problems commonly occurred after childbirth, with some resolution over the 5 years after childbirth. Important differences in prevalence of postpartum morbidities were evident when parity was considered.

Women's health after childbirth is attracting a more appropriate level of consideration than it has in the past (Vanderkruik et al, 2013). The incidence and prevalence of postpartum health issues include a range of physical and psychological health problems (Cooklin et al, 2015) that do not necessarily resolve in the 2 years after childbirth (Van der Woude et al, 2015). Health problems that persist during the first year of motherhood tend to be due to the physical experience of childbirth, not necessarily to the demands of caring for a new baby (Rouhi et al, 2012). These problems are usually not acute or life-threatening. However, the effects on daily functioning (childcare, household responsibilities, intimate relationships and employment) are not inconsequential for new mothers (Walker et al, 2015). Postpartum morbidity is a worldwide phenomenon and an estimated 94% of women report having problems related to childbirth during the 6 months postpartum (Van der Woude et al, 2015). For every maternal mortality of pregnancy-related causes, about 20 women experience acute or chronic morbidity, often with tragic consequences (Hardee et al, 2012).

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