Predictors of women's physical health problems after childbirth

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2005 Jun;26(2):115-25. doi: 10.1080/01443610400023064.


The objectives of this study were to document the extent and the correlates of common physical health symptoms in women two months after childbirth. Of special interest was determining whether violence and depression histories increase the risk for experiencing these symptoms. Participants were recruited in six Toronto-area hospitals and were interviewed by telephone 8-10 weeks later. Two hundred of the 332 (60.2%) women who were approached completed the study. Most women (96%) reported at least one physical health symptom 2 months postnatally (Mean = 3.4, SD = 2.0). Stepwise logistic regression was conducted for each outcome. Antenatal depression was a significant predictor of excessive fatigue and bad headaches. Sick leave during pregnancy predicted postpartum backaches. Adult emotional abuse and household income were associated with bowel problems. Episiotomy, maternal complications, and planned pregnancy predicted perineal pain. Finally, being Canadian born and having an assisted vaginal delivery increased the risk for hemorrhoids while cesarean section decreased the risk. A high prevalence of physical symptoms was found in women after childbirth. History of depression and violence were implicated in the occurrence of some of these symptoms. Other important predictors included demographic, maternal, and delivery-related factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Demography
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Headache / diagnosis
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology
  • Puerperal Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors