women are so preoccupied with worrying about their babies after
they give birth that they forget that there is the possibility
in their body as well. Although complications after a healthy pregnancy
and delivery are relatively rare, you should still pay close attention
to how your body changes and be aware of any potential warning
One of the most serious postpartum complications is excessive
bleeding, or a postpartum hemorrhage, after you give birth. This
a problem after long and complicated deliveries, multiple births
or in an infected uterus. Usually, it’s a case of your uterus
not contracting after the placenta is delivered. If this happens
in the hospital, your provider will perform a pelvic exam to find
the exact problem,
and you can be treated right there, perhaps with a blood transfusion.
Later after the birth, excessive bleeding may be recognized by
bleeding that soaks a pad in one hour or less, or passing a blood
clot larger that a lemon, followed by bleeding that soaks a pad
in one hour or less. Should this type of bleeding happen, call
your provider immediately.
Infection can be recognized by a temperature greater than 101°F by mouth,
pain or burning when you urinate, foul smelling blood from your vagina and severe
pain when you push on your lower abdomen. If you have had a Cesarean birth, infection
in your incision could be indicated by redness around the incision and green
or yellow drainage from the incision. An infection in your breasts could be indicated
by red streaks/areas on the breast that are tender and warm to the touch. You
may already be running a fever before these signs appear.
Other Warning Signs
- A swollen, red, painful area on the leg (especially the calf).
This could be inflammation in a blood vessel or a blood clot
- A severe headache that gets worse when you sit up, and improves
when you lie down
- Inability to pass your urine
- Racing heartbeat, uncontrollable crying, inability to sleep,
feeling of sadness or hopelessness, feelings of wanting to hurt
yourself or your baby
If any of these postpartum warning signs occur, notify your care
involve a piece of the placenta that remained in the uterus and
caused an infection. This is characterized by
flu-like symptoms including a high fever, accelerated heart rate
vaginal discharge. If you have any of these symptoms or if you
feel ill, contact your provider for treatment.
You may experience
much pain in your perineum, which is the area
between your rectum and your vagina. All of those tissues stretched
to their capacity during labor, and some might have even torn.
If you had an episiotomy, the pain may be even worse. Your body
eventually heal itself, but to ease the pain you might try baths
and pain relief to help.
Your vaginal discharge may change after
pregnancy. At first, you will experience a heavy bloody discharge
in the weeks following
birth. This is called lochia, and it is the remains of the placenta
as the blood from your uterine lining being expelled by your
body. The discharge will eventually even out and stop, but the
may return from time to time until your body is acclimated.
women experience hemorrhoids after they give birth. It’s
not pretty—but it’s the truth. You might have heard
bold women admit that they experience increased constipation after
birth. This, in addition to all of the strain from carrying around
your child and then giving birth, contributes to the hemorrhoids.
The use of over-the-counter treatments may alleviate the swelling
and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Try getting extra fiber
and liquid in your diet to regulate your digestion and quell the
Another ugly postpartum complication is incontinence,
both urinary and fecal. You may notice that it’s much more
difficult to hold in your urine, especially while laughing or coughing.
a natural part of your body’s process of healing after giving
childbirth, and Kegel exercises will help the problem.
made your hair thick and shiny during pregnancy might cause you
to lose hair after you give birth. Don’t freak out—you’re
not going bald. All this hair is just the same as the hair your body
would have shed during pregnancy if you hadn’t had hormones
galore. Eventually, all will even out and you’ll be back
to normal (pre-pregnancy hair, unfortunately!).
There are many other changes that occur in the postpartum phase
that can really affect your body and be quite discomforting. Most
changes and complications are normal, and will go away with time
Click below to read about related topics.
Normal Body Changes
Sexual Activity & Contraception