13 Postpartum Red Flags That Mean You Should Call Your OB
Postpartum recovery is no joke. Not only is your body getting back in order after creating, sustaining, and birthing a human life, but you're also exhausted and trying to get used to motherhood. Moms are known for putting their needs last, but when you're postpartum, self-care is even more important and knowing the postpartum red flags that mean you should call your OB can make you feel a little more prepared for recovery.
Although most postpartum recoveries carry on without a hitch, there are some moms that have issues arise before their six week check-up with their OB. According to Postpartum Progress, the Centers for Disease Control noted that 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms and that's only based on the women who have self-reported their symptoms and only 15 percent of women who suffer from PPD ever receive professional treatment.
But postpartum depression isn't the only issue some moms face during postpartum recovery. According to The March of Dimes, one to five percent of women have postpartum hemorrhage and postpartum infections, such as wound infection and mastitis, can happen as well.
However, a normal, healthy postpartum recovery is the norm. But knowing the postpartum red flags that mean you should call your OB can make you feel prepared and a little more relaxed before your six week check-up.
1. You Haven't Had A Bowel Movement In A Week
Having a bowel movement after giving birth can be difficult. According to What to Expect, your stomach muscles are stretched and weakened after giving birth, but you can also have a mental block about your bowel movements after birth — some moms are worried about popping their stitches and some are worried about their C-section incision. Who knew pooping could be so stressful? This is all normal and so is constipation, but according to Fit Pregnancy, if a week has passed and you still haven't had a bowel movement, you'll want to contact your OB so you can find a stool softener or laxative that works for you.
2. You Experience Heavy Bleeding That Doesn't Slow Or Stop
Bleeding is normal after delivery, whether you've had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but if it gets heavier, it's time to call your doctor. The Mayo Clinic noted that heavy bleeding for the first few days is standard, but it should start tapering and it shouldn't be flooding your underwear. According to Fit Pregnancy, if you're going through more than one pad an hour for more than a few hours or it continues to be bright red after the first week of postpartum, it's time to give your OB a call. Additionally, March of Dimes noted that heavy bleeding that doesn't slow or stop could be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage, so it's incredibly important to keep an eye on it.
3. Your Discharge Has A Foul Odor
This could be a sign of a postpartum infection, according to What to Expect. If your vaginal discharge has a foul odor (or if you experience any discharge from an incision site, foul smelling or not), it could mean you're battling an infection. What to Expect noted that as many as 8 percent of deliveries result in infection and they can include bladder and kidney infections as well. Keep an eye on it so you can get the antibiotics you need.
4. You Have A Fever
A fever doesn't seem like a big deal, but it could be a sign of an infection. Mayo Clinic noted that a fever of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher should be discussed with your OB. It's most likely nothing, but Baby Center noted even a low-grade fever could be the sign of something more troubling.
5. You Have A Urinary Tract Infection
If you're suffering from a UTI, you need to see your doctor regardless of your postpartum status. The American Pregnancy Association noted that if you ignore a UTI, it could cause permanent damage to the bladder and kidneys. It can be difficult to tell when you're postpartum if what you're experiencing is a UTI or just your body healing from stitches, incisions, and childbirth, but be aware of any burning when you urinate, needing to urinate more frequently, blood or mucus in your urine, pain or pressure in your bladder, incontinence, or cramping or pain in your lower abdomen. A UTI can also cause you to feel chills, nausea, and develop a fever.
6. Your Baby Blues Haven't Subsided
Baby blues during the first two weeks of postpartum are normal, but if they continue after two weeks or get increasingly worse, it's time to call your OB. Postpartum depression is very serious and can be incredibly debilitating. Postpartum Progress noted that some symptoms of PPD can be feeling like you can't handle being a mother, feeling empty and numb, not bonding with your baby, feeling like you regret being a mother, thoughts of running away, not sleeping, feeling irritated or angry, feeling hopeless and sad, and being afraid to tell anyone. Don't be afraid — speak up and get some help.
7. Your Stitches Or Incision Become Red Or Swollen
Whether you had vaginal stitches or a C-section incision, if they become red or swollen, call your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, if your stitches feel hot to the touch, are red or swollen, this isn't normal. If your C-section incision becomes red, swollen, or painful around it, this can also be a sign of infection.
8. Your Incision Opens Or Oozes Discharge
A C-section incision might leave you feeling a little sore or unable to get out of bed easily (I used to roll until I could use my abs again), but Mayo Clinic noted that if your incision opens or oozes any kind of discharge, this could be a sign of infection. Be sure to call your doctor immediately.
9. You Pass Multiple Big Clots
Professionals for Women's Health, an OB-GYN office in Ohio, noted that it's time to call your doctor if you're passing clots larger than the size of a golf ball or if you continue to pass clots two weeks after delivery. Clots can range in sizes from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball and are normal within the first two weeks of recovery, but keep an eye on them once your two weeks has passed. Multiple, big clots are not normal.
10. Your Abdomen Is Tender To The Touch
Feeling some cramping after delivery is normal, but Mayo Clinic noted that if your abdomen feels tender to the touch, it could be a sign of a uterine infection. In fact, any type of severe pain in your lower abdomen should be reported, according to March of Dimes.
11. You Are Worried To The Point That It Affects Your Daily Life
Many people know about postpartum depression, but they often forget about postpartum anxiety, which can also be a terrifying ordeal for postpartum moms. Postpartum Progress noted that symptoms of postpartum anxiety can include constant worrying (to the point that it affects your daily life), having disturbing thoughts, needing to check things constantly, racing thoughts, unable to relax, feeling a sense of dread, and unable to sleep or eat.
12. You Notice Red Streaks Or Painful Lumps In Your Breasts
Anytime you experience red streaks or painful lumps in your breasts, you should call your doctor, but it can also happen during your postpartum recovery and is something to watch out for when you're already overwhelmed and exhausted. According to Mayo Clinic, these symptoms can be a sign of mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue, and is most common six to 12 weeks after delivery, but it can happen at any time. It can be incredibly painful, but it's important to keep nursing your baby through it and talk to your doctor about antibiotics.
13. You Have Chills, Clammy Skin, Dizziness, & Fainting
It's a huge ordeal to give birth to a baby and recover from it and it could send your body into shock. March of Dimes noted that symptoms like chills, clammy skin, dizziness, and fainting can all be signs of your body going into shock and should be discussed with your doctor.