Your body goes through several changes over the course of pregnancy. But it doesn’t stop with delivery. Changes continue post-delivery and it’s critical to closely monitor the physical and mental changes you experience. Some aches and pains are a normal part of the process, such as nipple pain. Others could be a sign that something is wrong. You should not ignore warning signs — they can be fatal. Here’s what new moms can expect, and where to go if you have concerns.
Normal Signs for New Moms
Common postpartum symptoms include vaginal soreness, slight bleeding, breast engorgement, and after birth cramps. Labor takes a major toll on the body. It’s normal to feel sore after birth and bleed for a few days. Post birth cramps are caused by the uterus shrinking to its usual size. As your body prepares for breastfeeding, many notice breast engorgement and tenderness. Other normal symptoms are incontinence (accidentally peeing a bit), constipation, stretch marks, swelling of hands or feet, and hair loss. Some women feel sad or angry, and may be experiencing the “baby blues.” If these feelings don’t go away within two weeks, you should call your doctor to talk about postpartum depression.
“Women often ask me about vaginal discharge after pregnancy,” says Chasheryl Leslie, MD, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Premier OB-GYN. “What you’ll notice is, over time, the flow lessens and the color changes to a much lighter version. For some it lasts a few weeks, while it lasts a month or more for others. I always encourage my patients to give me a call if they ever feel concerned.”
While most of the changes your body goes through after delivering a baby are normal and natural, it is important to be aware of warning signs. Use the acronym POST-BIRTH to help you remember what symptoms require further medical attention.
Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms:
- Pain in the chest
- Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath
- Thoughts of harm or suicide
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding (more than 1 pad an hour or blood clots larger than the size of an egg)
- Incision that isn’t healing
- Red or swollen leg that is painful or warm to touch
- Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Headaches that change vision or won’t go away with medicine
“Don’t ever feel like you’re bothering your doctor by calling them with any questions or concerns after you’ve delivered,” says Leslie. “Your health is our number one priority. We want you feeling your best so you can enjoy every second with your newest addition!”
SEE MORE: Treatment for high risk pregnancy
The first month after delivering a baby is challenging, yet extremely rewarding. As much as new moms are caring for their newest additions, it’s important to not lose sight of your own health and wellbeing.