While you may have been healthy enough to go home from the hospital after delivering your baby, you still need to monitor some postpartum conditions. Luckily, these conditions usually are not a concern for most patients, but sometimes extra attention can prevent medical conditions.
Preeclampsia. Your healthcare provider may have told you the cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. They are right, but the effects of preeclampsia can remain or present themselves 4-6 weeks postpartum.If you were prescribed blood pressure medication at discharge, your physician will want to check you within the week to make sure the medicine is working. At your six-week postpartum checkup, if your blood pressure is normal, it is recommended to check it every two years.
Infections. Three types of infections are possible after having a baby. It’s important to call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms after delivery. Infection treatment includes antibiotics (oral or IV), after which you will be back to normal.
- Uterine infections: Uterine infections present with symptoms of a tender, swollen uterus. You also will have a fever, usually coupled with vaginal discharge.
- Wound Infection: If you had a c-section, it’s important to keep your incision clean and dry. If not, the moist environment will create a breeding ground for bacteria. Your incision will look swollen and red, and you may develop a fever.
- Mastitis: Mastitis is a breast infection lactating women may experience. Symptoms include tender breasts, breast swelling, burning while breastfeeding, redness on the breast, a fever, and flu-like symptoms.
Gestational Diabetes. Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are seven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes after they have the baby. To lower your risk, it’s important to follow up your blood sugar checks, per your doctor’s recommendation. At your six-week postpartum checkup, your doctor may want you to have a fasting blood sugar test or another three-hour glucose test. After that, if your sugar is normal, it is advised to check your blood sugar once every three years with your doctor. To lower your risk of developing diabetes later in life, the American Diabetes Association recommends losing weight, eating healthy and exercising.
Postpartum Bleeding. Lochia is the name for the postpartum bleeding you experience after birth. Lochia is made of leftover blood, mucus and tissue. It starts immediately after delivery as a heavy period for the first 24 hours, then lightens up. Over the next 6 weeks, it should decrease and change in color and consistency from bright red, to pink, to brown, and finally white. However, it is not uncommon to start to bleed a little heavier if you have a burst of energy and end up overdoing it. That’s your body telling you to slow down; listen to it. Avoid tampons, swimming, hot tubs, sex and bubble baths for six weeks postpartum. You don’t want to introduce unwanted bacteria into your vagina or uterus. If the bleeding increases and you are soaking a pad an hour, or passing large clots (bigger than a golf ball), call your doctor.