Common New Mom Health Concerns
Having a baby is one of the greatest blessings in life. And it’s only natural that as a new mom, you are focusing all their attention on your new bundle of joy, but let’s face it, giving birth is hard on your body.
It’s normal to experience some pain and discomfort in the days and weeks after delivery. Still, it’s important to listen to your body and not ignore potential warning signs, as some of these could be life-threatening.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the risks of maternal mortality. Researchers list several leading causes of postpartum deaths, including hemorrhage, heart disease, infection, and mental health issues. The good news is that many of these unfortunate deaths are preventable.
Common Postpartum Health Issues
Infections at the site of a C-section or a tear in the perineum are not uncommon. However, it’s possible to develop infections in other parts of your body after delivery, such as the uterus, bladder, and kidneys.
Women who experience prolonged labor and prolonged rupture of membranes are more likely to develop these infections than those with uncomplicated deliveries.
It’s easy to treat infections that are in the early stages; however, if left untreated, infections can develop into more severe conditions and become life-threatening
You should seek emergency care if you have:
- Fever of 100.4 F or higher
- Fast breathing or heart rate
- Chills with clammy or sweaty skin
- Extreme or increasing pain
- Discharge at the wound site
- Redness at the wound site
- The wound site is warm to the touch
Clogged Breast Duct or Mastitis
When your baby suckles on your breasts, it stimulates nerve endings that push the milk through a duct system and out through the nipple so your baby can feed.
However, these ducts can sometimes become blocked, preventing the milk from flowing correctly. When this happens, you may feel localized pain and tenderness in the affected breast. Your breast may also change coloration, becoming redder than usual.
Unless treated, the blockage may cause an infection in your breast known as mastitis. Once the condition develops, the affected breast will be red, warm, swollen, and painful on one side. Additionally, mastitis may also cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, and aches.
If you have a clogged duct or mastitis, you should continue to breastfeed your baby from both sides and apply warm compresses before feeding to help reduce pain and promote milk flow. Additionally, massaging the blocked area can help unclog the duct.
Signs Your Clogged Duct or Mastitis Needs Medical Attention
- There is no symptom improvement after 24 hours
- You have a persistent fever or your fever spikes to 101°F or higher
- Your breast becomes redder than usual, swollen and hot
- You see red streaks on your breast going from the areola to the underarm
- You see pus or blood in your milk
- Your nipple looks infected
Hemorrhage, or heavy bleeding, is a well-documented cause of postnatal death.
Although there’s little you can do to prevent hemorrhage, you can pay close attention to how much you’re bleeding during the two weeks following the birth of your baby.
If you have excessive bleeding that soaks more than one sanitary pad per hour, let your doctor know and call 911.
High Blood Pressure
Postpartum high blood pressure is a condition called preeclampsia. In most cases, it occurs within 48 hours after the delivery; however, it can develop up to six weeks after the birth of your child.
Preeclampsia is a serious condition classified as a medical emergency. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to kidney and liver failure, cause seizures, and even death.
Signs of Preeclampsia:
Get emergency medical care if you experience any of the following:
- High blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg or higher)
- Decreased urination
- Severe headaches
- Pain in the upper right portion of your belly or shoulder
- Swelling in the legs, hands, or face
- Vision changes (flashes of light in your vision or lasting dark spots)
- Trouble breathing
Some women experience a weakening of the heart, known as peripartum cardiomyopathy, during or shortly after pregnancy.
Your heart pumps up to 50% more blood while you are pregnant to nourish your growing baby. Scientists believe this added stress could be the cause of this type of heart failure.
Known risk factors for peripartum cardiomyopathy include:
- High blood pressure
- Being over 30
- Having twins or more
Please rush to the nearest Altus Emergency Center if you have:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Palpitations (your heart feels like it is skipping beats)
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive fatigue
- Swelling in the feet or ankles
Although rare, blood clots are a leading cause of postpartum death.
Most blood clots originate in the legs and, if dislodged, can travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
New moms who had a C-section, have high blood pressure, are older than 35, or are obese, have a higher risk for blood clots after childbirth. Still, blood clots can happen to anyone, so it’s essential to recognize the emergency signs.
Get emergency care if you experience any of the following:
- A red or swollen leg that’s painful or warm to the touch
- Coughing or gasping for air
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
The birth of a child is an exciting time in your family’s life, but it’s crucial not to lose sight of your health. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t delay. Instead, trust your instincts and seek medical help.
Altus Emergency Centers is closer than ever, with four convenient locations in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie. All our sites are available 24/7 to help you get through any postpartum emergencies.