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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

The complications and long term health implications of pregnancy and childbirth

145 replies

FestiviaBlueberry · 05/01/2013 01:02

I've been thinking about this in relation to abortion.

One of the things which strikes me, is how casual the forced-birthers are about the idea of forcing women to carry and bear children they don't want. "It's only 9 months!" they cry, as if nine months of morning sickness and bone degeneration is nothing and 24 hours of physical torture followed by lifelong incontinence is irrelevant.

I'd like to compile a list of side effects caused or exacerbated by pregnancy and birth because I'd like to do a blog post about it. My basic fury about this, is how women's lives are so marginal, that most people have NO CLUE about the very real short, medium and long term risks and side effects of pregnancy and birth - even when they become pregnant. Only if you get one of the conditions, or know someone who has, do you ever find out about the things you can suffer from as a result of pregnancy.

And if men were told that they would have to endure one of these conditions, in order to keep their child alive when they hadn't planned it and didn't want it, they would ... well, WTF am I on about really, no-one would ever tell men that they have to endure these health impacts for the sake of someone else without positively choosing to endure them.

So off the top of my head, here are the ones I can think of:

Constant nausea for months
Increased risk of osteoporosis
Diabetes, sometimes permanent - anyone know any stats on this?
Stress incontinence
The other type of incontinence which you get from Caesarean sections, the name of which escapes me (anyone?)

I googled "long term side effects of pregnancy" and literally, found one entry - which listed stretch marks, sagging breasts and average 5lb weight retention.

Looks like there's a bit of a silence on this and I don't think there should be.

Any help much appreciated! Xmas Smile

OP posts:
Sunnywithshowers · 05/01/2013 01:38

I agree entirely. Wasn't a study done recently that showed that the mental health of women who'd had an abortion was better than that of women who'd carried on the pregnancy?

Some more for your list:
Urge incontinence
Back pain
Varicose veins
Dental problems
Urinary dysfunction
Sexual problems (libido, sensations)
Splitting of chest muscles (can't remember term, but colleague could fit a fist in the space between her muscles)

(Disclaimer: I don't have children, and some of these are half-remembered from friends and family)

ArtexMonkey · 05/01/2013 02:05

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FrancesFarmer · 05/01/2013 02:25

Good thread. It really gets my goat when clueless men go on about how easy pregnancy is.

kickassangel · 05/01/2013 02:31


I've been presenting at gps for a decade with all the symptoms without it being taken seriously. Nearly fecking died before I got put on the meds. 9 Months on I am now down to 6 prescriptions a day to deal with all the side effects and ongoing problems due to having been so ill.

I had a pregnancy book with a chapter about side effects. (Not serious illnesses, there was a separate chapter for those). I didn't have varicose veins, but every single other side effect I had.

I'm just starting an MA on womens & Gender studies, and seriously want to look at women & health.

I work with someone who can't sit down due to post-natal problems Shock

She has also had serious diarrhea and vomiting for over a year and been told that it could be two years before her body returns to normal after endless morning sickness!

I work in the US and we have good health insurance - the lack of care for my colleague is NOT due to lack of NHS funding, but a basic attitude towards women's health which needs to be re-examined.

Jessepinkman · 05/01/2013 02:33

But it really pisses me off when men go on about how difficult it is.

I had a back to back at home. No man will ever tell me that felt.

Sunnywithshowers · 05/01/2013 02:37

One of my friends had a back to back. Her baby is 8 months old but her back is in a bad state.

Zwitterion · 05/01/2013 03:54

Mental health too.

Any existing MH conditions are often exacerbated by pregnancy. OCD can be triggered/get worse post partum. Pre-natal anxiety and depression is generally not discussed but common.

Plus PND of course.

rcs19 · 05/01/2013 04:22

Thrombosis- deep vein and superficial vein. My midwife said dvt is the biggest killer of pregnant women/new mums, don't know if this is right. I currently have svt in my leg (pregnancy related, dd is 3 weeks old) and have to do daily anticoagulant injections.

DoItToJulia · 05/01/2013 05:07

My blood pressure increased and is now routinely higher than it was pre pregnancy. My GP said up may never go back to pre preggo levels. He also said that pregnancy is a window of later life.

Nandocushion · 05/01/2013 05:24

"Clueless men", FrancesFarmer? Haven't we all been on MN long enough to know that there are plenty of clueless women who go on about how natural it all is, and how our bodies are created to deal with it, and how it will all be fine and stop thinking you need to be in a hospital blah blah blah?

I don't have anything like the conditions you all state above. But I am a poster child for not waiting until you're post-35 to give birth. It isn't pretty, and no, Nature won't just take care of you.

noblegiraffe · 05/01/2013 06:53

I was thinking about this when I was given the consent form for my c-section and had to tick off that I'd gone through each risk with the consultant, like cutting my bladder (1 in every blah), haemorrhage (1 in blah), death (1 in blah). I was wondering what a similar form for vaginal birth would look like and whether anyone would ever get pregnant if they had to sign one at the start.

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas · 05/01/2013 07:11

Add carpal tunnel to your list.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch · 05/01/2013 07:18

I wonder if all the "it's only 9 months" folks donate blood? It's only an hour, a few times a year, and it definitely saves lives.

Back on topic. You can get ante-natal depression as well as post.

AreYouADurtBirdOrALadyBird · 05/01/2013 07:21

Very good points. I would like to add that nipple thrush caused my nipple to permanently invert. Whilst it is not the same as the more severe conditions, it affected my confidence and self esteem. It still does.

Bearandcub · 05/01/2013 07:23

What about;
Perinatal anxiety or depression
Sleep deprivation
Change of body shape - breasts and hips do not return to form prior to pregnancy. There are implications for psychology harm there alone.
Guilt and self-loathing from giving child up or not bonding if kept.
There is also the negative impact on finances that will affect mental health too.
Eye prescription change.
Dental health -I lost a tooth with DS2.
Hair colour change
Hormonal effects on pre-existing conditions ie psoriasis, acne, etc
Memory implications!!!!

saffronwblue · 05/01/2013 07:25

I just read an article about a women who is permanently quadriplegic after the anaesthetist mistakenly injected her with antiseptic during an epidural. She has never been able to hold her baby and will need full time carers for life.

StrawberrytallCAKE · 05/01/2013 07:31

With my first daughter I had retained products and was very ill for two years. I started seeing the doctor after 6 months who refused to refer me as apparently she was a gynaecologist..even though I had private insurance. She examined me and told me to keep a diary of symptoms for 6 months which I had already been doing but she refused to look at it, many exams and her showing me pictures of her boyfriend at appointments later and I changed gp. I managed to get refered and was in surgery a week later. I had two years of pain, bleeding, exhaustion, anaemia, loss of interest in life and my husband because of childbirth and the incompetence and lack of understanding of my gp.

More for the list -
Lowering of the immune system
Change in digestive system
Hip pain
Muscle tears

weegiemum · 05/01/2013 07:35

I developed kidney stones in pregnancy - passed stones every day for months and months, I was in agony, on morphine, had an air ambulance transfer and early induction of dd2 (had also had this - more mildly - with ds). I've got permanent kidney and bladder scarring and still get a lot of UTIs because of it.

'cascade' renal colic in pregnancy is supposedly very rare but 2 of my friends have had something similar. I was in hospital 30 times in 30 months with this.

Strangely enough, I also had pnd!

Bearandcub · 05/01/2013 07:37

Gallbladder issues most common post-pregnancy in women.

TrazzleMISTLEtoes · 05/01/2013 07:38

Erm, I tore my retina when pushing out DD. obviously needed surgery when my whole retina started coming off, so you can add blindness to your list!

TrazzleMISTLEtoes · 05/01/2013 07:41

Oh, and sciatica (during pregnancy definitely). I now have it on the other side, but only since giving birth so I don't know if its related.

PeppaPrig · 05/01/2013 07:42

Post-birth complications. Poor stitching followed by repair op months later (google Fenton's Procedure). Natural, no pain relief, quick and easy birth here followed by hours in surgery and bits that look like Frankenstein!


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Makinglists · 05/01/2013 07:50

Carpal tunnel in both wrists needing surgery 6 mths after DS1
Chronic back/knee pain after DS2
MM issues

Makinglists · 05/01/2013 07:53

Should have said MH issues - probably mis-typed as my eye sight has got worse since DS2 (though that may be age related as I'm early 40's - though decline was quite rapid around that time)

HoleyGhost · 05/01/2013 07:55

I often wonder if these long term costs are taken into account when allocating resources to postnatal and maternity care.

Long term effects - especially PTSD, PND, incontinence and sexual dysfunction - are so very common. Some of it could be avoided with better care.

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