After going through labor and delivering their babies, most expectant moms visualize looking into their baby’s eyes, hugging them, and being so full of love that they are bubbling over. It’s hard to picture anything going wrong once the baby arrives, and while often, everything is just fine after the baby is born, there are things that can go wrong right after giving birth.
The first 24 hours after delivery are the most crucial for mom and baby. Giving birth can be a traumatic experience, and it can leave mother and child at risk for developing some serious complications.
While mom-to-be are busy packing their hospital bags and getting their nurseries ready, it’s important that they take the time to educate themselves about the things that can go wrong after giving birth. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but I always find that it’s better to be prepared than to be completely blindsided. That way, if anything does go wrong, you won’t be thrown for a total loop and you’ll at least have some knowledge regarding what to expect.
Though the majority of women and babies are just fine the first 24 hours after delivery, here’s a look at 15 things that could potentially go wrong.
15The V Can Triple In Size
For women who have had a vaginal birth, there may be problems with the pernieal area soon after giving birth. Swelling can set in, as can pain. In fact, the swelling can become so severe that the labia can triple in size, especially for moms who have had a vaginal birth before. Additionally, pain is not uncommon, and that pain can also become severe. Some moms report that they experienced a burning sensation in their vagina that made it difficult to sit. Women who had an episiotomy or experienced tearing during delivery are more likely to experience pain.
The swelling and pain will subside; however, in the meantime, ice packs and pain relievers can do wonders. Also, sitting on a donut-shaped pillow can help.
14The Organs Can Push Out
A pelvic prolapse is a big fear for a lot of expectant moms. Who wouldn’t be worried that their bladder, uterus or rectum may protrude from her lady bits?
The pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum) are held in place by ligaments and fascia, or the pelvic floor muscles. If they are torn or stretched during labor and delivery, one or more of the pelvic organs may not be held properly in place. As a result, they can end up sagging and protrude through the vagina.
If you feel like you have something coming out of your vagina, a heavy sensation in the area, or you see a lump, let your healthcare professional know. Kegel exercises can help treat the issue, but in severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
13The Uterus Is Most Vulnerable
The uterus is susceptible to developing an infection after giving birth, especially within the first 24 hours.
Bacteria normally lives within the vagina; however, after delivery, that bacteria can cause an infection to develop. Women who have had a lot of vaginal examinations during labor, whose membranes ruptured too soon before giving birth, who had a prolonged labor, or who delivered via a C-section are more prone to developing a uterine infection.
An infection can affect the uterine lining, the uterine muscle, and the areas that surround the uterus. Symptoms usually include pain in the lower part of the abdomen, as well as foul-smelling discharge. A doctor or nurse will likely discover an infection before you will, and antibiotics will be prescribed to combat it.
12Seeing Red? Call The Doctor
It’s normal to experience bleeding after giving birth. A woman’s body has about 50 percent more blood when she’s pregnancy, and that blood starts to evacuate right after the baby is born. Add to that the fact that the placenta separate from the uterus, which also causes bleeding, and blood loss is totally expected. However, there is a chance that too much bleeding can occur.
Conditions such as placenta previa and placenta accreta can cause a significant amount of bleeding. This type of bleeding is referred to as postpartum hemorrhage and it usually happens within the first 24 hours after giving birth. This type of severe bleeding can result in excessive blood loss, which, if not treated, can be very dangerous for a new mom. Fortunately, medicine has come a long way and doctors are prepared to handle this type of bleeding.
11The Shakes Can Get Dangerous
Many moms have reported that they felt extremely shaky after giving birth; a shakiness that enveloped the entire body. This shakiness is not a result of being cold, but rather the immediate shift of hormones that occurs right after delivery. Some experts believe that a release of endorphins after giving birth can also cause shakiness. An epidural or any other type of anesthesia can make the shakiness even worse. The shakiness can become so severe that a new mom may actually see her limbs quivering and may not be able to hold her little one.
If you do start to experience shaking after you give birth, take comfort in knowing that it will only last a brief time. It usually subsides in a few minutes, to at most, a few hours.
10Are The Girls Swelling?
Medically referred to as “mastitis” an infection in the breast can plague mothers who are breastfeeding, but it can also affect those who aren’t. Symptoms of mastitis include pain, swelling, warmth and redness in the affected breast, as well as chills and a fever.
Though breast infections usually don’t’ occur until several weeks after giving birth, they can develop at any time during lactation, including the first 24 hours after birth. If you do develop an infection in the breast, your doctor will prescribe a medication to combat it. Pain relievers, increasing your fluid intake and applying warm compresses can help to ease the pain. A lactation consultant can also assist you in order to ensure that your ability to continue breastfeeding is not impacted.
9Clumps Of Dried Blood Can Form
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is another issue that can happen the first 24 hours after giving birth. It happens when a blood clot forms in the deeper veins of the body, usually the left leg. The proteins that cause the blood to clot increase during pregnancy, and anti-clotting proteins decrease, which experts believe is what causes DVT during pregnancy and soon after delivery. The enlargement of the uterus might also cause DVT, as it puts pressure on the veins that allow blood from the lower portion of the body to return back to the heart.
If left untreated, a blood clot can travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, a severe condition. If you notice any swelling, pain, or warmth in your leg, let your doctor know immediately.
8The Thread Can Loosen
For moms who have had an episiotomy or a C-section, there may be issues with stitches after giving birth.
There is a chance that the stitched could burst open. Bearing down too hard to pass a bowel movement can cause stitches to burst, as can getting up too quickly. Why? – Because if too much pressure is placed on the stitches, they may not be able to hold. An infection is another issue with stitches that may arise.
To prevent bursting your stitches, take care not to apply an excessive amount of pressure to the area. To avoid an infection, make sure you are keeping the sutured area clean and dry. If you do notice any redness, swelling, pain, warmth or any other sign of an infection, let your doctor know right away.
7Hair Might Fall Out
During pregnancy, many women enjoy fuller, more luscious locks. That’s because, during pregnancy, the hair follicles are in the active growth phase, thanks to hormones; specifically, estrogen. Right after giving birth, there is a sharp decline in estrogen, which causes the hair follicles to return to a terminal stage. As a result, hair starts to fall out, and it can be quite dramatic.
In the first 24 hours after giving birth, don’t be surprised if you start to notice clumps of hair falling out; however, you shouldn’t be alarmed. You aren’t going bald; it’s just the hair that didn’t fall out during pregnancy. In fact, you may notice excessive hair loss all the way up until your baby’s first birthday.
6The Baby Can't Always Be Fed
Breastfeeding seems like it should come naturally; however, many new moms are surprised to find out that it isn’t as easy as they thought it would be.
A number of issues could arise that could make breastfeeding a challenge, especially in the first 24 hours after giving birth. The baby may not be able to latch on properly, you may be in pain, which could lead to complications, or the baby may be tongue tied, for example. If you are having difficulties with breastfeeding, don’t give up. In most hospitals, a lactation consultant is available and will gladly offer assistance. Also, remember that it will take time for you and your baby to get into the groove of breastfeeding.
5Pressure Can Start Behind The Eyes
Headaches in the postpartum period, especially in the first 24 hours, are extremely common. The rapid shift in hormone levels, anesthesia, dehydration and lack of sleep are all factors that can contribute to a headache right after giving birth. A headache can be mild and nagging, to severe and almost debilitating.
If you start to experience a headache after delivering your baby, fluid, rest and pain medications can help to ease the pain. However, if these treatments don’t work and the headache persists for longer than 24 hours, it could be a sign of a more severe underlying condition.
Whether your headache is mild or severe, make sure you let your doctor know. He or she will be able to determine the cause of the pain and provide the proper treatment.
A bladder infection, or cystitis, may develop within 24 hours after giving birth. The risk of developing this type of infection is greater for moms who had a catheter during labor, especially if the catheter was left in place for a long period of time. If left untreated, a bladder infection could eventually develop into a kidney infection, which is much more serious.
Symptoms of a bladder infection include pain while urinating, feeling an increased need to urinate, and the inability to completely empty the bladder. Lower abdominal pain may also occur. If a bladder infection spreads to the kidneys, symptoms can include pain in the lower back, as well. A doctor can identify a bladder infection and prescribe antibiotics to heal it.
3Purples Grapes Appear
Hemorrhoids are one of the most dreaded side effects of pregnancy. Many a pregnant woman rejoices when she makes it to delivery day without experiencing this side effect. However, if you haven’t developed hemorrhoids during your pregnancy, don’t celebrate just yet, because they may develop right after giving birth.
Believe it or not, a vaginal birth puts severe stress on the rectum. The extreme pushing and the pressure of the baby can cause hemorrhoids to develop during or right after delivery. This issue can make it even more difficult to pass a bowel movement (which is already difficult after giving birth,) as hemorrhoids can be very painful and can even cause bleeding.
An analgesic pain cream, a Sitz bath, ice packs and pain relievers can help ease hemorrhoid pain.
2The Tunnel May Block
It’s extremely common to have difficulty passing a bowel movement right after giving birth. The reason? – Pregnancy hormones, which can slow down the gastrointestinal system. If you’re taking pain medications, they can also contribute to the problem. If you have hemorrhoids or have experienced any tearing, had an episiotomy, or had a C-section, you may also be reluctant to push out a bowel movement because of the pain, or for fear of doing any damage.
If you feel the need to go, you know, don’t be surprised if you have trouble. Taking a stool softener, upping your fiber intake and drinking plenty of fluids can certainly help to make things move a little easier. Avoid starchy carbs, however, as they can make the problem worse.
1The Dark Cloud Flies Over
After giving birth to her baby, a mom can feel like she is on an emotional rollercoaster. From elation and excitement, to anxiousness and even fear; however, new moms can also feel something that they don’t expect to: depression.
For many new moms, the baby blues can set in soon after giving birth. They can experience mood swings, bouts of weeping, and they may even feel downright sad and depressed.
How could a new mom who has just given birth to her baby feel depressed? Two factors come into play: hormones and the general realization of how life-changing having a baby really is. Combined, these two factors can make a new mom feel sadness, and even loneliness. In some cases, the baby blues can become severe, longer lasting postpartum depression.
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