Postpartum Emergencies: Fever After Childbirth and More

Find out which symptoms warrant a call to your health care provider

A mom holding her baby.
A mom holding her baby.. Courtney Keating/Getty Images

Are you experiencing a high fever after childbirth? Do you have severe headaches or bleeding? Or does your body feel fatigued, sore, and uncomfortable?

It's normal to experience some health issues, especially in the first six weeks after childbirth. As a new mom, your first impulse may be to put your own health on the back burner. However, to best care for your newborn you'll need to be in tip-top shape—and that means caring for yourself.

Start by listening to your body and learning which postpartum issues warrant a call to your health provider.

Postpartum Infections and Health Issues

Giving birth certainly takes a toll on your body, both during and after delivery. Here are some of the minor (yet very uncomfortable) postpartum medical issues, along with some serious conditions, that moms can encounter after childbirth.

Postpartum Problems: When to Call My Doctor

Again, paying attention to your own health is key to caring properly for your newborn. Make sure to call your physician, midwife or other health care provider immediately if any of the following symptoms occur.

  • Chills or fever of 101 degrees F or greater. A fever after childbirth is often a sign of endometritis, or an inflammation in the lining of the uterus (womb) caused from infection.
  • Difficulty or pain while urinating, or blood present in urine. These are signs of a urinary tract infection.
  • Blurred vision, headaches or dizziness
  • Pain or excessive swelling around the site where your IV was placed
  • Flu-like symptoms with soreness, pain or red streaks appearing on the breasts. This could signal mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue.
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Prolonged pain or itching of the perineum
  • Heavy or bright red bleeding (generally if you must change a soaked pad every one to two hours) with or without clots
  • Pain in the chest, legs or feet
  • Any sudden drainage from an episiotomy or c-section incision. This could signal a cesarean wound infection.
  • Vomiting
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Excessive crying, frustration and anger or feeling overwhelmed and unable to care for yourself or your child. These are classic signs of PPD.

Where to Go From Here

Unfortunately, your physical and emotional health will continue to take a beating even after delivery—but a little know-how can go a long way in easing your recovery. Start by reading these five articles:

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