One in three new mothers around the world experience long-term health problems following childbirth.
A recent global study has revealed that over 40 million women annually face ongoing health complications following childbirth. This highlights the need for increased awareness and acknowledgement of typical postpartum challenges.
A comprehensive examination of the state of maternal health globally reveals a significant prevalence of chronic health issues that persist for extended periods of time following childbirth. This affects one out of every three new mothers worldwide.
The results were discovered through a collection of articles released in the Lancet Global Health and eClinicalMedicine, supported by the United Nations’ Special Program on Human Reproduction, the World Health Organization, and the United States Agency for International Development.
Pascale Allotey, a professor and director at the World Health Organization, stated that numerous postpartum conditions result in significant hardship for women in their daily lives long after giving birth. These conditions, which can have both emotional and physical impacts, are often not given enough recognition, awareness, or reporting.
“Throughout their lifetime and even after motherhood, women require access to various services provided by healthcare professionals who attentively address their concerns and fulfill their needs – allowing them not only to overcome childbirth but also to experience overall well-being and a high quality of life.”
The study looked into health issues that occurred or persisted six weeks or more after giving birth. These issues included discomfort during sexual intercourse, which affected over a third (35%) of new mothers, lower back pain (32%), loss of bowel control (19%), loss of bladder control (8-31%), feelings of anxiety (9-24%), feelings of depression (11-17%), pain in the perineal area (11%), fear of future childbirth (6-15%), and difficulty getting pregnant again (11%).
Scientists urged for increased acknowledgement within the medical field of these prevalent issues, most of which arise after the time when women usually have access to postnatal care.
The authors emphasized the importance of receiving proper care during pregnancy and childbirth to prevent potential risks and complications that could result in long-term health problems after giving birth.
According to experts, even though these conditions are common, they have not received much attention in clinical research, practice, and policy.
After examining documents from over ten years, the researchers discovered a lack of recent, well-regarded guidelines for treating 40% of 32 important medical conditions. They also found no high-quality guidelines from lower- or middle-income countries.
The researchers warned that there were significant data gaps. None of the conditions identified in the research had nationally representative or global studies available.
According to the researchers, the data that is currently accessible primarily pertains to affluent countries and the estimated number of 40 million may not accurately reflect the overall global impact. It is reported that approximately 140 million women deliver babies annually.
The broader discussion on women’s health during and after pregnancy highlights the need for increased focus on the overall well-being of women and girls.
The study states that neglecting important matters like these is a possible explanation for why 121 out of 185 countries have not made significant strides in decreasing maternal deaths in the last twenty years.
According to João Paulo Souza, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, maternal health should not only be a concern during pregnancy. Souza is also one of the authors of the initial paper.
Several elements can affect the probability of a woman having a successful pregnancy, including her surroundings, political and economic circumstances, availability of nutritious food, and level of control over her life. It is essential to address all of these factors in order to enhance her overall health, in addition to providing access to excellent healthcare throughout her lifespan.