World is neglecting women after birth – report

Health services need to pay attention to the long-term problems that many women face after giving birth, according to a major report published today.

At least 40 million women a year, worldwide, are likely to experience these problems, the World Health Organization said.

Low back pain affects nearly a third while incontinence affects nearly as many as anxiety and depression affect up to a third of women.

Up to 15% develop fear of childbirth while 11% suffer infertility.

The analysis is published by The Lancet Global Health today.

The researchers say they could find no high quality guidelines on the subject issued anywhere in the last 12 years for 40% of the 32 conditions linked to childbirth. No low or middle income quality has produced guidelines for any of the problems during the 12 years.

There are also significant problems with the evidence, they say. There were no national or global studies.

Dr Pascale Allotey, WHO director of sexual and reproductive health, said:

“Many postpartum conditions cause considerable suffering in women’s daily life long after birth, both emotionally and physically, and yet they are largely underappreciated, underrecognised, and underreported.

“Throughout their lives, and beyond motherhood, women need access to a range of services from health-care providers who listen to their concerns and meet their needs – so they not only survive childbirth but can enjoy good health and quality of life.”

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