Having been lucky enough to have had my children in Norway, I got a enjoy 12 months of maternity leave with both of them.
Lovely as it was to have a full year to just focus on being a mama, I am also aware this might seem totally luxurious and even a little indulgent, especially compared to countries where maternity leave is far shorter and you are expected to be back on your feet after birth a lot quicker.
But, actually, recent research claims you actually need this long to recover after birth.
Because while new mums are often told they will be back to ‘normal’ within six weeks of giving birth, a new study has now found that most women take much longer to recover.
Dr Julie Wray of Salford University interviewed women two to three weeks, three months and six to seven months after they had given birth to gain a unique insight into postnatal recovery.
And what she concluded, was that recovering from childbirth takes a full 12 months.
That’s right, mamas. Three months is not enough, nor is six. Worringly, Wray’s study also revealed significant dissatisfaction amongst new mothers with postnatal services.
Many were disappointed by the six-week check, which all mothers receive from either their midwife or their GP. Some did not receive a physical examination, and others were not told whether or not their bodies had recovered yet.
And never mind just your body. Everyone who has had a baby know that the emotional shift and the psychological effects can also take much longer to recover from.
The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed.
“Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth,” Wray explains. “The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed.”
There is no denying much has changed for new mums over the years, and only a generation or two ago new mums were allowed to stay on in hospital a lot longer after birth, while many now feel like they have to go home before they are ready. As well as this, many mums nowadays work outside the home, and have to return to work in order to keep their jobs and incomes long before they might actually feel ready to do so.
Wray thinks more and longer care of new mums is needed, and thinks it is worrying so many new mums feel the pressure to get back on their feet soon after childbirth.
“Government funding cuts and a national shortage of midwives means that postnatal services will only face further challenges,” she warns. “The midwifery profession must raise the status of postnatal care as any further erosion can only be bad for women and their children.”
The Royal College of Midwives in the UK welcomed the research, with Sue MacDonald, Head of Education and Research at the RCM telling MailOnline: “We are very aware that the postnatal period has always been a bit of a fairy tale.We are often not able to see women as much as we would like to.”
How long did it take YOU to feel back to normal after having had your baby? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie