Severe Post-Birth Complications: Know the Warning Signs

warning signs.pngBirth and the time after birth is a safe and healthy event most of the time for most people. For a small percentage of people, severe complications happen in the hours, days, and weeks after giving birth. With quick, proper medical attention, many of these complications can be treated and corrected, which is why it is absolutely critical for people who have recently given birth to a) know the most common signs of complications and b) report any signs or any feeling of being "off" or "not quite right" to your doctor, obstetrician, or midwife right away. 

If you are about to give birth, or have recently given birth, read through the list of warning signs for post-birth complications below. If you experience any of these symptoms, alert your doctor right away. 

19 Critical Warning Signs to Know for After You Give Birth

  • Fever
  • Headaches that are frequent and/or won't go away and/or get worse
  • Dizziness or feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Excessive pain, redness, or swelling that gets worse or doesn't go away at your c-section incision site or on/around your perineum (labia, vaginal area, anus)
  • Vaginal discharge that has an odor or is greenish in color
  • Pain when urinating
  • Shortness of breath, can't catch your breath, can't take in a full breath
  • A cough that comes on unexpectedly and won't go away/intensifies
  • Vision loss or blurriness
  • Pain, swelling, and/or tenderness in legs, especially in the calves
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Racing heart
  • Breast that has an area with redness and/or feels hot to the touch and may contain a painful lump/nodule
  • Severe belly pain
  • Seizures
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Anxiety, obsessive thinking, sadness that won't go away, worsens, or impacts your day-to-day life and functioning

All of these symptoms necessitate a call to your doctor. Some may be life threatening and require a call to 911 if they occur and you are not in the hospital. 

Call 911 if You Experience These Symptoms After Birth

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath, can't catch your breath, can't take in a full breath
  • Seizures
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

When you call your care provider or 911, let whoever you are speaking with first that you have just recently had a baby, and then describe the symptom(s) you are experiencing.

Share this information with your partner and family members so they too can be on the lookout for post-birth signs and symptoms. Pay attention to your body and no matter how "silly" you think it might be -- call your doctor. Remember: When in doubt, speak out. Your better off finding out that "it's nothing serious" than to ignore symptoms and lose time for life-saving care. 

 

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