Postpartum Health Issues: When Should You Be Concerned?

Morning sickness, back aches, swollen hands and feet, emotional ups and downs – all gone. Time to get back to the body and mind you had before being preggers. But before you start doing the happy dance, you should be aware of some common postpartum issues and know when to be concerned. Don’t worry, even if you require a little more care, you can still do the happy dance in due time.

Baby Blues

It’s perfectly natural to get the blues after your baby is born. Actually, 85% of postpartum women experience this short-lived period of mild depression. Chalk it up to lack of sleep, wacked out hormones, anxieties about your baby’s health, and a lack of confidence in your own parenting. These are all contributing factors that lead to feelings of sadness and inadequacy. Once your hormones begin to fall back into place and you adjust to caring for a baby, the blues diminish within a few days to two weeks after birth.

When to be concerned: If you have one or more of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor about Postpartum Depression (PPD):

  • Feelings of extreme sadness
  • INEXPLICABLE crying episodes
  • A lack of pleasure in things you would normally enjoy
  • Trouble focusing
  • Excessive worrying about your baby or lack of interest in your baby
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Decreased appetite and lack of energy

PPD can be treated with counseling, or a combination of counseling and antidepressant drugs. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll have to evaluate whether you want to use antidepressants. Although deemed safe, information on the long-term effects, if any, are not available.

Seek help immediately if you experience hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, turbulent mood swings, and fantasies of hurting yourself, others, or your baby. Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and usually hospitalization. Full recovery is expected with proper medical care.

Swelling, Cracking, Aching Breasts

The girls are on full duty, especially during the early weeks of your baby’s life. Every 2-4 hours they’ll be the only food source for your newborn. They may feel sore, be chapped, or cracked, but this is very common and temporary.

Improper latch (the connection between mom’s nipple and baby’s mouth) is the main reason for these symptoms. If your baby doesn’t have enough of your nipple in his mouth, or he sucks on the same part of the nipple over and over again, or it rubs on the wrong part of his palate, you could be suffering. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but you basically just need to reposition baby’s mouth or the nipple to get a better latch.

You may also notice some redness, and a hard lump that is sore on one of your breasts. It’s likely a plugged duct. Massage combined with a warm compress will often take care of that. Again, proper latching is the key to avoid this.

When to be concerned: Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the breast that can be caused by a plugged milk duct. You can still nurse and your baby can’t get ill. The symptoms are the same as a standard plugged duct, just more intense. However, if the symptoms don’t clear up in a day or two, call your doctor.

Bleeding, Cramps, and Pain

Whether you delivered vaginally or via a C-section, you’re going to have some issues, albeit temporary ones. Both delivery methods will cause bleeding afterwards. You’ll probably feel like you’re starting your period with the cramping because the uterus is tightening up to remove all remnants from the pregnancy.

Small clots are common but the bleeding should taper off day by day. If you have a sudden increase of bleeding or the return of bright red blood, that’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest.

When to be concerned: Hemorrhaging. It’s a rare thing to experience, but if you have larger blood clots, and the blood stays bright red and heavy, with a foul-smelling discharge, you could be hemorrhaging. If the blood loss becomes severe, you could experience dizziness, a racing heartbeat, and breathlessness. Call your doctor immediately.

Permission to Rest

Your body has been put through the ringer in the last nine months. Postpartum issues aren’t pretty but it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down and relax so you can recover and heal properly.

Have you or are you experiencing any postpartum health issues? Tell us in the comments below!

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