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New Mom Advice: Watch for These Postpartum Complications

Congratulations! You just delivered a new baby! While your attention may shift to your new bundle of joy, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Your obstetric provider is still monitoring you for several health issues in the postpartum period. These include:

Preeclampsia

Your doctor most likely talked to you during your pregnancy about headaches, vision changes and pain in the right upper portion of your abdomen. They monitored your blood pressure at every visit and during labor. Did you know that preeclampsia can still develop after you deliver? Even if you had normal blood pressures throughout your pregnancy, you should still notify your obstetrician if you develop headaches, vision changes or pain in the right upper portion of your abdomen -- especially in the first two weeks after you deliver.

Hemorrhage (Excessive Bleeding)

There are many different causes of postpartum hemorrhage. The majority of hemorrhages occur within the first 24 hour after delivery. Your nurse and doctor will monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of excessive bleeding. There are, however, some instances where you can have a delayed hemorrhage; this is defined as excessive bleeding greater than 24 hours after delivery. This occurs in about 1% of pregnancies. If you are soaking through entire pads in less than an hour, you need to contact your physician.

Mood Changes

Depression is actually the most common complication affecting pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is estimated that depression affects 1 in 7 women during pregnancy! Your obstetrician will screen you for anxiety and depression at your postpartum visits. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed or have suicidal thoughts, reach out to your provider. You are not alone!

Infection

You may have heard of some women developing infections during labor. That is called chorioamnionitis, or an infection of the membranes and amniotic sac surrounding the baby. It is also possible to develop an infection inside your uterus after delivery. If you experience fever (greater than 100.4 degrees F), chills or foul smelling vaginal discharge, you should notify your obstetric provider.

If you had a cesarean section, fever (greater than 100.4 degrees F), chills or discharge/redness around your incision could be a sign of a skin infection. You will want to notify your doctor about these symptoms right away.

Don’t Forget About Your Postpartum Visit with Your OB Provider!

Your doctor will recommend follow-up visits in the office anywhere from a few days after delivery up to 6 weeks postpartum (depending on your medical conditions). Don’t skip these visits! Your obstetrician is monitoring you for all the above conditions and also optimizing your health for the future. This might include: cervical cancer screening, immunizations, diabetes screening, and more.

For more information, follow up with a CHI Health Women's Health provider.

Traci-Lynn Hirai, MD
Traci-Lynn Hirai, MD

Traci-Lynn Hirai, MD is an OB/GYN at CHI Health.

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