Childbirth is a time of elation for couples. As you and your significant other bring a new family member into the world, you cannot help but feel the joy that little bundle of love brought with them. However, you may also be rightfully nervous and find yourself asking the question: “What should I expect after delivery?”
What Should I Expect After Delivery?
During the postpartum period, about the first six weeks, women should experience normal healing pains such as vaginal soreness, discharge, and bleeding. You may also experience contractions, often referred to as “afterpains.” This is your body’s way of preventing excess bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in your uterus.
Thankfully, all of these symptoms can be remedied with hot/cold pads, soaking in the tub, or over-the-counter pain relievers. Even though these symptoms are considered normal, it’s still very important to attend regular check-ups with your healthcare provider and to follow your prenatal care plan.
You’ll want to schedule a postpartum health checkup with your medical care provider within 6 weeks of childbirth. Educate yourself on common postpartum health concerns so you can ask the right questions during your visit. There are many postpartum support websites available for new moms to help them get the most out of their postpartum health checkups.
Serious Postpartum Symptoms Women Should Look Out For After Delivery
Although the symptoms above are to be expected, and should not cause panic, there are some health concerns that women should be actively looking out for. As we said above, vaginal bleeding is normal – in moderation. If you’re bleeding severely with no signs of stopping, you should seek medical attention immediately. The same goes for blood clots. If you experience a blood clot the size of an egg or larger, medical attention is required.
Luckily, many postnatal complications can be treated effectively if discovered on time. However, we know that with a newborn, your mind may be elsewhere and it can be hard to focus on your own health. So, with ease to you, we’ve compiled a list of major symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Increasing pains, chest pains
- High fever (100 °F or above)
- Rapid heart rate, palpitations
- Shortness of breath, dizziness upon standing
- A vaginal incision that won’t heal
- Vision changes, headaches, or seizures
- Depression, suicidal thoughts
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects women who have recently given birth. It ranges in severity such as postpartum “baby blues”, to postpartum depression, then finally – postpartum psychosis.
What are the “baby blues?”
Baby blues is a type of postpartum depression that affects 20-25% of mothers after delivery. Baby blues usually occur around a week after the delivery. This usually entails crying for no reason, sadness, and anxiety. The quickest remedy for this complication is to look towards family and friends for support.
Severe Postpartum Depression & Psychosis
5-10% of people who experience baby blues will also experience a more severe case of postpartum depression or PPD. People who suffer from postpartum depression may experience frequent crying, irritability, anxiety, and the inability to care for themselves or their baby. Symptoms may last for several months but can be remedied with psychotherapy or antidepressants.
Although it’s far rarer, postpartum psychosis affects one in 1,000 mothers after childbirth. Patients experiencing postpartum psychosis require immediate medical attention, as there is an increased risk of suicide and harm to the baby. Symptoms may include confusion, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Treatment including hospitalization, psychotherapy, and antidepressants are very effective.
Your Future as a Parent
Even though the list above may be daunting, don’t let it scare you away from the fact that parenthood is an extraordinary experience. Don’t forget to regularly keep up with your healthcare provider, follow your postnatal care plan, and most importantly – love that little bundle of joy!