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Women Health. 1994;21(2-3):1-22.

Mothers' health after the birth of the first child: the case of employed women in an Italian city.

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Istituto per l'Infanzia, University of Trieste, Italy.


While the number of mothers resuming employment soon after the birth of a child is growing, knowledge about the effect that having both a baby and a job has on mental and physical health is still scarce. In this paper, we studied the health of 141 Italian first-time mothers, who were all employed during pregnancy. When their child was 15 months old, 84% were back at work; 24-36% suffered from lack of sleep, extreme tiredness and backache; more than half had experienced some feelings of depression since the birth. Considering the whole sample, poorly educated and unmarried mothers reported more physical health problems. Being employed per se showed no influence, but poorly educated mothers and those with a less qualified job reported more problems. On the basis of our results, we suggest that future research on new mothers, work and health should systematically include "domestic" variables and the characteristics of the paid job; and should analyze more thoroughly the influence of marriage status and educational level on health.

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