POST-BIRTH Warning Signs for New Moms [Kirstin Sholes]

Video Transcript

My name is Kirstin Sholes and I specialize in obstetrics and gynecology with the Avera Medical Group and I deliver babies at Brookings Health System.

Why is it important for new moms to watch for postpartum complications?

It's important for moms to be aware of these complications because they can be signs of life-threatening conditions at times. I think, just with having a newborn at home, things can be really overwhelming. They're tired, not sleeping, and it's easy for them to kind of maybe dismiss those or lose sight of the fact that they're still at risk for some of these things that can happen. I just want them to be aware that just because they've already had their baby it doesn't mean that complications can't arise.

What POST-BIRTH warning signs should mothers look for?

Headaches, specifically headaches that don't go away with the use of over the counter medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, or if they're associated with vision changes. Other things to look for, temperature or fever over 100.4.

If the mom had a cesarean section, making sure that the incision doesn't look red or is not draining because those can also be signs of infection. Abdominal pain is also something to watch for, specifically if the pain is getting worse or doesn't get better with medications that they were sent home for for pain relief. 

Signs of a blood clot because moms are at risk of blood clots after they have a baby. Things that can be signs of a blood clot are red swollen or tender calves. Typically one side will be a little bit worse than the other.

Also just monitoring their mood. So, if they're feeling kind of sad, hopeless, usually I say if that persists more than seven to ten days after delivery, that would be something to notify your provider for as well.

The last thing would be bleeding. I usually tell moms to kind of monitor the amount of bleeding that should gradually decrease over time after they have their baby. But if they have bleeding that they're soaking through a pad in an hour, that is not normal and they would want to notify their provider.

When should I contact my doctor about postpartum complications?

Things in the postpartum period that you would want to call 911 for would be any new chest pain, feeling short of breath, any seizure, and then if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

For most of the other warning signs, first, notify the provider, try and get in touch with your provider at the clinic. If it's after hours or you're unable to contact them, going to the emergency department to get evaluated there would be the next step.

Who is at risk for POST-BIRTH complications?

Really, anyone who has a baby is at risk for potential complications, but we do know certain things put people at higher risk for certain things. Certainly women who have had a C section, they're at higher risk of infection and blood clots as well. Women that have had complications during their pregnancy, they already had high blood pressure in their pregnancy or outside of pregnancy, things like diabetes, those can increase their risk as well of certain conditions.

Would you recommend Brookings Health System?

There's a lot of reasons actually. It's a baby-friendly hospital, which I think is great. Everyone works very hard to promote breastfeeding and to help moms through that process. I think it's really great to be able to see a provider in your town without having to travel far and then also to be able to deliver in that same location with them. They've been with you throughout your whole pregnancy, they know your history, they know your family, so I think that just helps add a whole other level to your care.