After giving birth, you’re focused on caring for your baby. Postpartum health problems for moms, some life-threatening, can happen in the weeks and months afterward, and many aren’t aware of the warning signs.
Importance of Postpartum Visit
A pregnancy-related death is the death of a pregnant woman or within one year of the end of a pregnancy. More than half the pregnancy-related deaths happen after childbirth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the United States is increasing.
Typically, mothers see a health care provider four to six weeks after childbirth, and as many as forty percent don’t attend a postpartum visit. As a result, most receive little to no guidance on their postpartum recovery.
Understanding Postpartum Health Problems
According to the CDC, the most common causes of pregnancy-related deaths include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Other medical conditions often reflecting pre-existing illnesses
- Infection or sepsis
- Excessive bleeding after giving birth (hemorrhage)
- A disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body (cardiomyopathy)
- A blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs often caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs (thrombotic pulmonary embolism)
- High blood pressure (hypertensive) disorders of pregnancy
- A rare but serious condition that occurs when amniotic fluid or fetal material, such as fetal cells, enters the mother’s bloodstream (amniotic fluid embolism)
- Anesthesia complications
- Sometimes the cause of pregnancy-related death is unknown.
The overall risk of dying of a pregnancy-related complication is low. But women with chronic conditions such as cardiac disease, obesity, or high blood pressure are at greater risk of dying or nearly dying from postpartum health problems. If you have these risk factors, monitoring your postpartum health is particularly important.
Early Detection is Key
Many postpartum complications can be successfully treated if they are identified early.
Seek emergency help if you have:
- Chest pain
- Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Bleeding and soaking through more than one pad an hour or blood clots the size of an egg or bigger
- An incision that isn’t healing
- Red or swollen leg that’s painful or warm to the touch
- Temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher
- Headache that doesn’t get better, even after taking medication, or a bad headache with vision changes
Make your postpartum health a priority. Start thinking about your postpartum care plan before you give birth. After childbirth, talk to your health care provider about your risk of pregnancy-related complications and any special follow-up care you might need. Know the signs and symptoms of a problem.
Also, any time you see a health care provider in the year after childbirth, be sure to share the date that you gave birth. It can help your provider know that your symptoms might be related to your recent pregnancy.
Are you in the Northwest Arkansas area and need a health care provider? Our knowledgeable and friendly staff is here to help. Call Creekside Center for Women today to schedule an appointment. Your health is our top priority. 479.582.9268