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Postpartum care: make sure your concerns are addressed

Many stories are set in some long ago time in some land far away and feature some character or characters whose mother either died in childbirth or was somehow maimed and never the same.

But those are far-away stories, right? Well, not entirely. With today's modern medicine healthy babies and moms have become the rule - not the exception. But it is important to note exceptions do still happen.

As we will discuss in this post, injuries to the mother can interfere with what is supposed to be the joyous occasion of welcoming the new child.

Recovering from childbirth

If you're like most new mothers, you think of your baby first. But like many new mothers, you may be suffering from injuries to varied degrees, long after the supposed 6-8 week recovery time most doctors recommend. Women are experiencing cracked pelvic bones, crippling pelvic pain, back aches, painful sex and incontinence.

Many downplay these conditions or don't mention them at all, especially when their doctors tell them everything is progressing normally. But one group of women who participated in a study the University of Michigan underwent MRIs to identify possible birth injuries.

More than a quarter of the participants had evidence of fractures in their public bones that were never diagnosed, and more than 40 percent had tears in their pelvic floor muscles. These injuries aren't limited to women who have vaginal births; many women who have delivered via Cesarean section have experienced similar problems.

No advice from doctors

Despite the standard 6-8 week recovery timeline, many women still have problems well over a year after childbirth. More than 70 percent have back problems. Nearly half are experiencing urinary incontinence, and close to a quarter have pain during sex well after everything "should" be healed.

Advice for many women is limited to "go slow," which may as well be no advice at all. Often doctors themselves seem perplexed with the situation even when they do admit that something has gone wrong.

Impairing the quality of life

With injuries like back pain, pelvic pain and incontinence, many women are not able to pursue the same types of activities they did before they were pregnant. One woman had to back away from running -- an activity where she and her husband had bonded, and that fueled many of her other friendships as well. When she did try to participate, she'd be plagued by extreme incontinence. After years of frustration, her doctor finally told her she needed surgery.

Having a baby is a difficult ordeal both physically and emotionally, and it will almost certainly take time to recover, but if you find that you aren't getting better, it is important to be persistent with your doctor. In many cases, you may need to seek a second medical opinion to get the postpartum care you deserve.

Addressing your concerns

If something has gone seriously wrong, and your doctor failed to respond, it makes sense to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.

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