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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Pelvic Floor Disorders Linked to Mode of Delivery Among First-Time Moms

Photo of the bellies of three pregnant women

A first-time mother’s risk of pelvic floor disorders is strongly associated with how her baby is delivered, according to an NIH-funded study.

Photo: Izusek/Istock

A first-time mother’s risk of pelvic floor disorders is strongly associated with how her baby is delivered, according to a study funded by NIH. Pelvic floor disorders are thought to result from weakening or injury of the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue in the lowest part of the pelvis. The study, funded by NICHD, was led by Dr. Victoria Handa of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers enrolled more than 1,500 women into the study after their first birth; 778 of the women delivered by cesarean, 565 by spontaneous vaginal delivery and 185 by operative vaginal birth (delivery assisted by forceps or other devices to extract the fetus). After up to 9 years of observation, researchers found that women who delivered by cesarean were at approximately half the risk of developing stress urinary incontinence (incontinence resulting after a cough, sneeze or other activity) and overactive bladder, compared to women who had a spontaneous vaginal birth. 

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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