When I found out I was pregnant I had been working in a chiropractor’s office for almost 2 years and was dedicated 110% to the job. My plan was to keep working till I went into labor, take 3 full weeks off, start back working 1 day a week so I didn’t get behind on my files, be back working part-time by 6 weeks, and have a full-time babysitter between 8-12 weeks. I couldn’t have done anything more different! I ended up quitting at 6 months pregnant and for the first time in my life enjoy some me time. I’m sure glad I changed game plans and after seeing this study I’m definitely glad I didn’t go back to work after 3 weeks.
Women need a whole year to recover from childbirth despite the ‘fantasy’ image of celebrity mothers, study claims
- Official view is that new mothers should be back to ‘normal’ in six weeks
- Royal College of Midwives says seeing celebrity mothers ‘looking fantastic’ must add to the frustration
New mothers may be told that they will be back to ‘normal’ within six weeks of giving birth, but a new study has found that most women take much longer to recover.
Dr Julie Wray, of Salford University, interviewed women two to three weeks, three months and six to seven months after they had given birth to gain a unique insight into postnatal recovery.
She concluded that it takes a year to recover from childbirth. Her study also revealed significant dissatisfaction amongst new mothers with postnatal services.
The new mothers Dr Wray spoke to said that the six week recovery time was a ‘fantasy’.
Many were disappointed by the six week check, which all mothers receive from either their midwife or their GP. Some did not receive a physical examination, and others were not told whether or not their bodies had recovered yet.
The psychological effects can also take much longer to recover from.
Dr Wray’s study found that hospital wards can have a negative impact on women’s ability to recoup and celebrate the birth of their child because of the constant stream of visitors and the unfamiliar rules and regulations.
Helping new mothers adapt to having a baby in the home has also changed a lot over the years.
In the past women were shown how to perform tasks such as baby bathing and were only discharged from hospital when they were ready.
Now women can go home as soon as six hours after childbirth and many feel they are just ‘left to get on with it’.
Dr Wray said: ‘The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed.
‘Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth.
‘However, government funding cuts and a national shortage of midwives means that postnatal services will only face further challenges. The midwifery profession must raise the status of postnatal care as any further erosion can only be bad for women and their children.’
The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the research.
Sue MacDonald, Head of Education and Research at the RCM told MailOnline: ‘We are very aware that the postnatal period has always been a bit of a fairy tale.
‘We are often not able to see women as much as we would like to. Community midwives may be able to help at home but not always, and mothers do not stay in hospital for very long after childbirth any more.
‘Women do suffer ill-health, which involves back ache and feeling tired. They could be seen as minor problems, but they are not minor for new mums.’
The physical recovery is, of course, just one side of the story. Women also need to make the psychological transition to being a mother – which is even tougher for those who were working before giving birth.
Many feel the pressure to get back on their feet soon after childbirth. And seeing celebrities like Amanda Holden looking fantastic just weeks after almost dying during childbirth must be ‘very, very frustrating’, MacDonald said.
She added that recent studies have shown that women will put up with a lot of discomfort after childbirth because they think that it is normal. The Royal College of Widwives is conducting its own studies to see how they can make sure that discomfort is not the norm.
My personal view is that this is a statement about how poor our maternity/postnatal care is in this country. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with you practitioner or midwife. You should be able to ask them anything and should never feel rushed during an appointment. If you feel uncomfortable or uncared for maybe it’s time to switch care providers! The only part of this I disagree with is where she makes it seem like going home soon after birth is a bad thing. I had my daughter at 3:13 and was home by 7:00 that same night. However, I felt prepared and had my husband and mother there to help me. I was also in a birth center not a hospital so my perspective is probably different from the women interviewed.
How long do you feel it took you to recover from childbirth? How long was your maternity leave? Did your spouse get paternity leave?