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Five Weeks Postpartum, Fatigue Still Common

New mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding, report persistent symptoms

TUESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Five weeks after giving birth, women report persistent symptoms ranging from fatigue to diminished interest in sex, and such symptoms are more common in women who are breast-feeding or who have had a Caesarean section, according to research published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Pat McGovern, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues recruited 817 Minnesota women hospitalized for childbirth in 2001, and interviewed 716 of them five weeks postpartum.

Sixty-four percent of the women reported fatigue, 60 percent still experienced breast discomfort, and 52 percent said they felt a decreased interest in sex, the researchers report.

Women who underwent Caesarean rather than vaginal deliveries reported worse physical problems, trouble fulfilling their roles and diminished vitality, the researchers report. Breast-feeding was linked to increased frequency of symptoms after childbirth.

"These mothers experienced several childbirth-related symptoms at five weeks postpartum, indicating a need for ongoing rest and recovery," the authors write. "Health concerns were greater for women who were breast-feeding and for those whose babies were delivered by Caesarean section, suggesting a need for greater support for these women and a reassessment by the medical community of the progressively growing practice of Caesarean deliveries."

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