Postpartum recovery: what does it take to get back to a baseline?

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Apr 1;33(2):86-93. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000684.


Purpose of review: Limited guidance exists regarding how to assess postpartum recovery. In this article, we discuss various aspects of inpatient and outpatient postpartum recovery.

Recent findings: The postpartum period for many women includes sleep deprivation, maternal-neonatal bonding, breastfeeding, and integrating a new life into the family unit. Factors which impact inpatient quality of recovery include pain, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, shivering, comfort, mobilization, ability to hold and feed the baby, personal hygiene maintenance, and feeling in control. Outpatient recovery domains include psychosocial distress, surgical/medical factors, feeding and breast health, psychosocial support, pain, physical function, sleep, motherhood experience, infant health, fatigue, appearance / cosmetic factors, sexual function, and cognition. Postpartum recovery is likely to take longer than six weeks; however, no consensus regarding recovery duration exists among professional societies. Obstetric quality of recovery (ObsQoR) is a recommended measure of inpatient postpartum recovery; however, studies are needed to determine the optimum outpatient recovery assessment tool.

Summary: Postpartum recovery is an important area that requires clinical and research attention. Future studies should focus on identifying and developing valid, reliable, and responsive measures of recovery as well as tracking and optimizing recovery domains following all delivery modes.

Supplementary video abstract also available:

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep