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Health

28th May 2024

‘Women cannot be expected to return to their pre-pregnancy state within 6 weeks’

Sophie Collins

pregnancy

Gynaecologists are highlighting the fact that women experience unique recovery journeys after pregnancy and childbirth

While some women may return to their pre-pregnancy selves within six weeks, others may require significantly more time, especially if they have long-term health conditions.

Dr. Maeve Eogan, a gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital, spoke on Newstalk Breakfast about the unrealistic expectation for women in Ireland to “snap back” to their old selves six weeks post-partum. 

She stressed that this timeline is not applicable to everyone. 

“We know for sure it’s not true because people experience so much at the time of birth, regardless of the type of birth,” Dr. Eogan explained. 

She talked about the various challenges women face during this period, including hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and adjustments to family dynamics.

Dr. Eogan pointed out that the Irish health service now recognises that recovery can take longer and has started to offer more post-natal supports. 

These include services provided by public health nurses, GPs, and hospital-based programs. 

Additionally, community-based post-natal hubs are emerging to offer lactation and midwifery support closer to home.

She emphasised the need for awareness that women cannot be expected to return to their pre-pregnancy state within six weeks.

“Women are not elastic bands, and they don’t just snap back to how they were before they had a baby,” she said. 

In an ideal scenario, Dr. Eogan said a variety of personalised, wraparound supports would be available to meet the individual needs of each woman.

Dr. Eogan also highlighted the critical role of public health nurses in enhancing post-natal care in Ireland, despite being overburdened. 

She suggested that maternity services could better support these nurses by informing them of other available resources, such as online lactation and breastfeeding support.

The urgency of improving post-natal care is underscored by statistics from the Health Service Executive (HSE), which indicate that over one in ten women in Ireland experience post-natal depression. 

This highlights the necessity for comprehensive and accessible support systems to ensure all women receive the care they need during their recovery.

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