Do you know what the warning signs are after birth? After giving birth, you will be discharged between 24 hours and 2-3 days if you have given birth in a hospital. You will likely not see a health care professional again until some days later, depending on your local care plan. In some places, this can even be weeks after birth. Therefore, would you know what symptoms you need to look out for, where you should visit your midwife or healthcare centre earlier and as soon as possible?
Usually, after birth, your body will go naturally through changes, and you will be adapting to your new role. You will be experiencing those first weeks a roller coaster of emotions that come with the so-called fourth trimester.
But there may be complications that should not be overlooked, as they can be important for your physical and emotional health and can be treated if caught in time.
Make sure you see your midwife, OB/GYN or healthcare professional before the next routine appointment date and as soon as possible if you have one of the following symptoms:
- heavier than usual bleeding
- foul-smelling bleeding (lochia)
- difficulty in breathing (especially if it starts abruptly)
- changes in vision
- Difficulties with breastfeeding, such as pain during feeding
Fever is the most common symptom of postpartum complication. It is likely to be accompanied by pain in the breast, in the lower abdomen or even in the lower back). This can give us a clue as to where the fever comes from, which is usually from an infection.
Fever may be due to an infection of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), a c-section wound, a urinary tract infection or mastitis. It is important to evaluate your situation and get the appropriate treatment.
During the first days after birth, you will have a vaginal discharge that is typical of the postpartum period: the lochia, a mixture of blood and cell remains of pregnancy. This discharge has a unique smell, but in no case should this be foul-smelling. In this case, it is best to get your situation checked, as it could be caused by a womb infection. Also, the amount may be slightly heavier than a period during the first 4-5 days after birth and then decrease to a period-like amount until the end of the 2nd week postpartum. If you notice that the bleeding is heavier than normal, ask your midwife, OBY-GYN or healthcare professional. One of the most common causes of this abnormal heavy bleeding could be that the remains of the placenta are still retained in your womb, which prevents the proper healing of the area where the placenta was.
One of the check-ups that the nurses or midwives on the labour ward will do during your hospital stay will be to check your vital signs, emphasising your blood pressure. You may have heard of preeclampsia, which is related to blood pressure in pregnancy. This can also occur in the postpartum period.
At home, you don’t need to check your blood pressure, but if at any time you have a pressure-type headache and/or changes in your vision, such as seeing flashes of light or a black spot in your vision, we recommend that you consult with a health care professional urgently.
During pregnancy, changes in the womb cause you to breathe faster, or you feel short of breath with increased physical activity. This is due to the limited space the lungs have to do their job. During the postpartum period, the womb returns to its normal position, and this sensation gradually disappears. Therefore, if at any time you feel a sensation of shortness of breath, especially if it is sudden, make sure you go to the emergency room or A&E department, where your situation can be evaluated.
This last point is dedicated to taking care of your emotional well-being. After childbirth, you enter a roller coaster of emotions, which you gradually get used to. There are feelings of joy, tears, laughter, sadness, tiredness, energy, and all of those at the same time. The arrival of a baby is one of the biggest changes you will face in life, and adapting to this new situation takes weeks or months. During this period of time, you will experience the feeling of many different emotions. But the moments of joy, calmness and well-being should outweigh negative emotions. If you feel that this is not the case and if you feel there is more sadness than joy, if you experience unrealistic fears or if there are more tears than smiles and you can’t sleep at all, make sure you do not wait. Find a person who can help you to manage this situation and to get out of it. A perinatal psychologist would be the ideal person, but if you don’t know where to start or where to look, your midwife, gynaecologist or healthcare professional can guide you in your search.
If you need help, you can count on our team of maternity and breastfeeding experts. They are available in the Consultation Channel of our LactApp app, which is free to download for iPhone and Android.