Red Flags After Birth: Should I Call My Doctor?

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So you’ve given birth to your beautiful baby and now begins your recovery. As your body works hard to resume its pre-pregnancy state you may wonder if what you are experiencing is normal. You’re not alone. Let’s take a look at 5 common red flags after birth.

post birth sorenessHeavy Bleeding

Regardless of if you’ve given birth vaginally or by cesarean, bleeding after birth is normal. While heavy bleeding is normal in the first few days after birth, bleeding that doesn’t begin to taper off could be abnormal. Once you are home from the hospital or birth center, if your bleeding is heavy enough to soak a pad more than once an hour it’s time to call your provider. Over the days and weeks after birth, your bleeding will change in color from bright red to a dark red or brown. If you are still having bright red bleeding after the first week postpartum, a call to your provider is in order.

Painful Urination

Burning while urinating and/or a frequent urge to pee can be a red flag for a postpartum urinary tract infection. The American Pregnancy Association cautions that ignoring the symptoms of a UTI or mistaking it as a normal post-birth pain can result in damage to your bladder and kidneys. Other symptoms of a UTI may include pressure in your bladder. Blood in your urine, which can be hard to identify while also experiencing postpartum bleeding. Nausea, fever and/or chills may also be signs of a brewing UTI.


Fever is often one of the first signs of infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, a fever of 100.4 degrees or more is a good reason to call your provider. Fever may be an early sign of a developing urinary tract infection, uterine infection or mastitis. Discussing your symptoms with your provider can help them determine if treatment or a wait and watch approach is best.

Excessive Worrypostpartum depression support tucson

While the term postpartum depression is easily recognized, postpartum anxiety is not as well known, but just as common. It’s normal to have worries as a new parent, but when these worries become a big part of your daily life it may be time to reach out to your provider. Some parents experience anxiety over their baby’s health, making them focus excessively on the baby’s well being. This can lead to lack of self-care and an inability to sleep. Other signs of postpartum anxiety may include, racing thoughts, needing to check things (or the baby) constantly, disturbing thoughts or an inability to relax. Some parents may also experience a constant sense of dread as if something bad is always about to happen. Postpartum anxiety is not something to be ashamed about. Many treatment options exist from natural approaches to medications. Talk to your provider about your symptoms and discuss which options are best for your unique circumstances.

When It’s More Than The Blues

During the first two weeks after birth, your body undergoes a large and drastic hormonal shift. With this hormonal transition the “baby blues” are common. The baby blues may leave you feeling a little sad and a little worried. Guess what? You’re not alone. Up to 80% of new parents will experience baby blues in the first two weeks after birth. If your symptoms are still hanging around after the first two weeks you may have postpartum depression. On average about 10% of new parents will experience postpartum depression. If you have a history of depression before pregnancy or have experienced it with a previous pregnancy or if you have a family history of depression you may be at an increased risk.

Among those who may be experiencing postpartum depression feelings such as:

  • hopelessness
  • sadness
  • being alone

Some individuals may not feel like they are being a good parent. While others may feel like they are not able to bond with their baby. It’s sometimes hard to eat, sleep and take care of your baby due to such a strong sense of despair or sadness. Some individuals may experience panic or anxiety attacks.

If you have signs of postpartum depression, reach out to your provider as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your 6-week checkup.

Many treatment options exist from natural approaches to medications. Talk to your provider about your symptoms and discuss which options are best for your unique circumstances.

Having a qualified postpartum doula by your side can help you avoid or identify these common red flags.

To learn more about the supportive services we offer for families after birth, reach out today!

Learn More: Postpartum Care

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