Potential Complications

Many women have an uncomplicated recovery after pregnancy, labor and delivery, but there are potential postpartum complications that can arise after your baby is born. Some of the more common complications are:

  • postpartum infections, most often in the urinary tract and uterus
  • pain
    • perineal pain (the perineum is the area of skin and muscle between the vaginal opening and the anus)
    • vaginal pain
    • breast pain and tenderness
    • pain at the incision site if a C-section was performed
    • discomfort during sex
  • excessive bleeding after delivery
  • postpartum depression and/or “baby blues ”
  • sleep deprivation
  • breast and breastfeeding problems, such as swollen breasts, mastitis or clogged milk ducts
  • digestive and colorectal problems
    • incontinence (both urinary and fecal)
    • constipation
    • hemorrhoids
  • vaginal discharge
  • stretch marks
  • hair loss

Many complications aren’t serious and can be treated at home or in your doctor’s office. But call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • vaginal bleeding that is saturating a pad every hour
  • flu-like symptoms accompanied by a high fever, rapid heart rate (above 100 beats per minute), tenderness in your lower abdomen, or a foul smelling vaginal discharge
  • a red, swollen or pus-filled C-section incision
  • pain, swelling or tenderness in your legs; most importantly one leg more than the other
  • persistent or increasing pain in the vaginal area
  • breast tenderness or pain that is accompanied by fever, chills, fatigue, headache or nausea and/or vomiting
  • breasts that are sore and hot to the touch
  • burning or pain with urination
  • feelings of sadness, hopelessness or depression last for more than a few days
  • a very high fever (over 100.5 degrees F or 38 degrees C)

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you:

  • experience sudden and heavy blood loss
  • have a severe or persistent headache
  • have a headache with blurred vision or nausea and/or vomiting
  • have thoughts of harming yourself, your baby or anyone else
  • are unable to care for your baby
  • have hallucinations or manic behavior
  • experience upper abdominal pain or tenderness within 48 hours of delivery along with fatigue, nausea or vomiting
  • have chest pain or shortness of breath

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with your health. So if you do have any of the above symptoms, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 for help.