Determinants of maternal health four weeks after delivery: cross-sectional findings from the KUNO-kids health study

BMC Public Health. 2021 Sep 15;21(1):1676. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11667-y.


Background: The aim of this study was to examine the interaction of a multitude of socio-economic, lifestyle, environmental, psychosocial and birth related determinants and their effect on maternal health four weeks after delivery.

Methods: We used data from a German birth cohort study, the KUNO-Kids health study. Social determinants, as well as the self-rated maternal health and the physical and mental health status of mothers (indicated by means of the SF-12-questionnaire) were assessed through standardized questionnaires and personal interviews right after delivery and four weeks later. Linear regression models were calculated to determine the relationship between influencing factors and health outcomes.

Results: 1428 women were included in the analysis. Maternal self-rated health showed significant positive associations with breastfeeding (B (regression coefficient) 2.67; 0.86-4.48 (95% Confidence interval)) and estimating one's child as rather healthy (B 0.27; 0.19-0.34) and negative associations with social and emotional strains (B -3.50; -5.11- -1.88), obesity (B -2.56; -4.69- -0.42), having experienced a C-section (B -1.73; -3.23- -0.23), a positive history of somatic diseases (B -2.14; -3.53- -0.74), parental stress (B -0.39; -0.66- -0.11) and education of more than ten years (B -2.42; -3.95- -0.90). Maternal physical health status showed significant negative associations with age (B -0.13; -0.25- -0.01), employment before maternity leave (B -1.90; -3.59- -0.21), social and emotional strains (B -1.50; -2.67- -0.34), parental stress (B -0.28; -0.45- -0.12), C-section (B -4.06; -5.12- -2.99), having the first child (B -2.03; -3.09- -0.97) and a history of somatic diseases (B -2.00; -2.99- -1.01). Maternal mental health status showed significant positive associations with education of more than 10 years (B 2.27; 0.98-3.56) and a high level of social support (B 1.20; 0.06-2.34), while social and emotional strains (B -4.16; -5.48- -2.84) and parental stress (B -0.70; -0.92- -0.47) were negatively associated.

Conclusions: We identified important protective factors for maternal health four weeks after delivery, such as a high level of social support. However, parental stress and social and emotional strains in particular seem to have a negative influence on maternal health. These findings have public health relevance.

Keywords: Birth cohort study; Maternal health; Self-rated health; Socioeconomic determinants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health*
  • Mothers*
  • Pregnancy
  • Social Support