The fourth stage of labor: the health of birth mothers and adoptive mothers at six-weeks postpartum

Fam Med. 1991 Jan;23(1):29-35.


This study was conducted to determine the frequency of various health problems in new adoptive and biological mothers six weeks after they adopted or delivered their infants. Participants included 108 married first-time adoptive mothers, 72 married first-time biological mothers, and 133 controls (married women without children), each of whom completed a mailed questionnaire. Compared to controls, adoptive and biological mothers reported more fatigue, less readiness to work at a job, and less activity with household chores and recreational or social functions. In addition, biological mothers complained of more breast and genitourinary problems than did adoptive mothers or controls. Apart from their fatigue and hesitation to work at a job, adoptive mothers reported relatively good health, with the best mental health outcomes and the fewest acute physical problems of the three groups. These findings suggest that, for both adoptive and birth mothers, some aspects of postpartum recovery may continue up to and beyond the sixth postpartum week.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoption*
  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Morbidity
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires