Postpartum Complications and Disability


Pregnancy can take quite the toll on a woman's body. During and after childbirth, there are different conditions that can develop that contribute to disability and can affect the amount of time a woman will spend both in the hospital and at home prior to returning to work. This article will go over a few of these medical complications and what you can expect after discharge home from the hospital.


Nerve Injury

Most commonly, different types of nerve injuries can occur to a woman related to childbirth as peripheral nerve injuries or injuries that result from funny or prolonged positioning of the legs during labor. Common examples of this type of injury include peroneal or fibular nerve injury at the knee, femoral or lateral femoral cutaneous nerve injuries at the hip, or sciatic nerve injuries at the buttock. These peripheral nerve injuries commonly manifest as sensory changes such as numbness or tingling of different parts of the leg. They can also be more severe and cause varying degrees of weakness of the leg or foot. Usually, a woman will experience symptoms within hours to days of delivery. Symptoms will peak at days to a week after delivery. Depending on the severity of injury, it may take weeks to up to a year for resolution of symptoms. 

If nerve injury is experienced during labor, make sure you alert your doctor to these new symptoms so that she can assess the situation and make the appropriate referral to a specialist.

Most of these nerve injuries tend to resolve on their own without intervention. Generally, a woman may benefit from a physical therapy evaluation to assess the developed deficits and recommend exercises to improve strength and function of the leg. If symptoms are less severe, a person can benefit from a gradual walking program to work on functional strength one day at a time.



During and after labor, a woman may experience different degrees of hemorrhage or bleeding due to complications surrounding the delivery. This unpredictable occurrence can make a big impact on the way a woman feels after delivery due to the low levels of hemoglobin that she might have for months following delivery. Anemia can cause fatigue, and severe anemia can prevent a woman from returning to her daily routine effectively right away after delivery.

If postpartum hemorrhaging occurs, your doctor will likely do routine checks of your hemoglobin level and monitor you over time for signs of improvement. Your body should be able to regenerate these red blood cells on its own, but your doctor may prescribe you an iron supplement to help improve things more quickly. 


Postpartum depression is a serious diagnosis that can affect any woman who is pregnant or has a newborn child. Feeling down and out during and after pregnancy can feel very frustrating to a woman as the time is supposed to be a happy one, but postpartum depression is not something a woman can control.

Common symptoms of postpartum depression include feeling down or apathetic about things that you weren’t before, feeling overly fatigued, not having motivation to do daily activities, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty controlling your mood appropriately. More serious symptoms include thoughts of suicide or self/baby harm. If you suspect that you may have postpartum depression, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Common treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy and medications aimed at treated depression.

These three issues are some common complications of pregnancy that, while difficult to avoid, can be treated in conjunction with your doctor to improve quality of life and lessen disability over time. 

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