Warning signs of health problems after giving birth
Some discomforts after giving birth are normal. But new moms may be at risk of serious health conditions that need medical care.
Learning signs and symptoms of health complications may help save your life. Getting treatment quickly may help prevent certain life-threatening conditions.
Life-threatening conditions that can happen after giving birth include infections, blood clots, postpartum depression and postpartum hemorrhage.
Warning signs to watch out for include chest pain, trouble breathing, heavy bleeding, severe headache and extreme pain.
If you think your life is in danger, call emergency services (911) or go to a hospital emergency room.
What are warning signs to look for after giving birth?
Your body worked hard during pregnancy, helping to keep your baby healthy and safe. But your body also changes after having a baby. While some changes are normal and help you recover from pregnancy, others may be a sign that something may not be right. Seeking medical care is the best thing you can do if you have any of the following warning signs or symptoms:
- Heavy bleeding (more than your normal period or gets worse)
- Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away or gets worse. These could be a sign of infection in your c-section incision or if you had an episiotomy.
- Intense feelings of sadness and worry that last a long time after birth. These could be a sign of postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby.
- Fever higher than 100.4F
- Pain or burning when you go the bathroom
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in your legs, especially around your calves. These could be a sign of deep vein thrombophlebitis (also called DVT), a kind of blood clot.
- Red streaks on your breasts or painful lumps in your breasts. These could be a sign of mastitis, a breast infection.
- Severe pain in your lower belly, feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting
- Vaginal discharge that smells bad
- Severe headaches that won’t go away
- Vision changes
Call your health care provider or dial 911 right away if you have any of these signs or symptoms:
- Chills or feeling very cold
- Clammy or sweaty skin
- Fast breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Feeling confused
- Having extreme pain or discomfort
Signs and symptoms of other health conditions
Contact your provider right away if you have any of the followings:
- Bleeding that’s heavier than your normal period or bleeding that gets worse over time. You may have postpartum hemorrhage (also called PPH). PPH is a serious, but rare condition that can happen up to 12 weeks after having a baby.
- Pain, swelling, redness, warmth or tenderness in your legs, especially in your calves. You may have deep vein thrombosis (also called DVT). This happens when a blood clot forms deep in the body, usually in the lower leg or thigh.
- Changes in vision, dizziness, severe headache, pain in the upper right belly or in the shoulder, trouble breathing, sudden weight gain or swelling in the legs, hands or face. You may have postpartum preeclampsia.
- Chest pain, coughing or gasping for air. You may have a pulmonary embolism (also called PE). An embolism is a blood clot that moves from where it formed to another place in the body. When the clot moves to a lung, it’s PE. PE is an emergency.
- Feeling sad or hopeless for more than 10 days after giving birth. You may have postpartum depression (also called PPD). PPD is strong feelings of sadness, anxiety (worry) and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby. PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better.
- Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up. You may have PPH or cardiovascular disease (also called heart disease). Heart disease includes conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. They often affect the heart muscle or involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If you feel like something is wrong, call your provider. Trust your instincts. Nobody knows your body better than you. It is important to get help so that you can enjoy being with your new baby.