After giving birth, new moms are sent home bruised and sore with a new baby in tow. Their first priority is their newborn, but their own body needs some attention, too. Yet many times they don't speak to their OB-GYN until six weeks or so after their delivery.
Lots of women have questions and concerns about the things that happen to their body in the postpartum period. For example, their chest goes through even more changes after giving birth, whether they nurse or not. And women have a lot of discharge that they experience after birth, as well. Sometimes, things that can seem benign, like headaches, can be a symptom of something wrong. And there are times when waiting to talk to the doctor can mean long-term health concerns. We would be remiss if we didn't talk about mental health concerns after giving birth. All moms experience the baby blues due to postpartum hormones, but for some, it can be an even more serious situation.
Moms don't have to wait until the six-week appointment to address any of their concerns, and they should definitely speak up so that they can get help. Here are 20 things new moms avoid telling their OB-GYN (but shouldn't).
20 I Feel A Lump
A woman's chest can go through a lot of changes during pregnancy and in the immediate postpartum period, whether she chooses to nurse or not. It's easy to write off a lump as being nothing. The truth is that sometimes lumps form as the milk comes in, but that doesn't mean that a woman shouldn't ask the doctor.
Lumps can be as benign as a blocked milk duct or as serious as breast cancer, and just about all of those issues might require some help from the doctor. The doctor won't mind if it's not as serious. It's always better to check.
19 My Belly Is Sore
Moms can be pretty sore after going through labor and delivery, so they might think that any tenderness in their abdomen is just a normal part of the recovery. But if the baby bump area is sore to the touch, that could be a big sign that something is wrong, and they need to talk to the doctor.
The tenderness can mean anything from a piece of the placenta remaining in the body to a problem with healing from the C-section. The pain would only do worse without treatment, so we recommend they call the OB-GYN right away if their belly is sore to the touch.
18 Globs Are Coming Out
New moms have to deal with a major change to their discharge in the weeks after giving birth. Known as lochia, the substance includes a lot of the dark red stuff that was in the uterus with the baby, so it happens whether the mom gave birth naturally or via C-section.
At the beginning, it's normal for big globs to come out of the mom, but after a week or two, the lochia should be lighter. If globs start coming out again, that could be a sign of something wrong. So if moms have a concern about their discharge, it's important to talk to their OB about it and get their questions answered.
17 My Stitches Itch Like Crazy
Unfortunately, most women leave the hospital after having a baby with stitches. That's not just for C-section moms, but it also happens for a lot of natural deliveries since many women end up tearing down below. In both cases, the mom needs to alert the OB if she has concerns about her stitches.
It's normal to have some itchiness, but moms should definitely watch out for an extreme and do their best not to scratch. Any redness, swelling or oozing can mean infection, and that can require immediate attention. Talk to the doctor right away with any questions or concerns about your stitches.
16 There's A Smell
Many new moms are really concerned about the smells that come out of their little one, and they are diligent about diaper changes. But they also need to take note if they notice any strange smells coming from themselves during the postpartum period.
A woman's discharge is an indication of the health of the area down below, and that is also true after giving birth. Due to the lochia discharge, it is different than normal, but if things start to get even smellier, it's time to alert the doctor. That could be a sign of infection, and moms should get that taken care of right away.
15 I Can't Go No. 2
Going No. 2 can be harder than a woman might expect in the postpartum period. Many times meds slow digestion, and women who have a C-section can have issues on top of that. Even with a natural delivery, the mom's passage gets more precarious because of tearing in the area.
Many doctors recommend that women start taking a laxative after giving birth. It can take a few days for the first bowel movement to happen, so it can be a big, painful deal. There can be other issues later on, as well. The doctor can help, even if the mom might be a little embarrassed to ask.
14 My Hair Is Falling Out In Clumps
One of the most alarming postpartum symptoms that some women experience is postpartum hair loss. It's crazy how much hair a woman will find in the shower drain or her hairbrush for months after having a baby. And it can really lead to some bad hair days.
Unfortunately, the doctor won't have much good to tell a woman except that her body is recovering from pregnancy. Hormones during pregnancy keep a woman from losing her hair in the natural pattern, which means that the body more than makes up for it in the postpartum period. The OB might have a vitamin to suggest, but otherwise, it's just life as a new mom.
13 My Hemorrhoids Are Out Of Control
One of the not-so-lovely symptoms of pregnancy is the swelling of blood vessels that can lead to hemorrhoids. After the trauma of pushing, that situation can get even worse in the postpartum period, and moms need to let the doctor know so that they can get some help.
Hemorrhoids can be itchy, but they can also burst, which can be really unpleasant. It can mean even more juices coming from that area, and that can make a difficult situation even worse. No woman should suffer without help. The ob is used to questions and has solutions, so moms should speak up.
12 I Don't Feel Like Myself
Lots of new moms struggle with feelings that they are different after they have a baby. Just about all of them experience the baby blues due to the changes in hormones that come in the postpartum period, and some feel really guilty for that when they want to celebrate their new little one.
But there are various levels of the blues and many end up with postpartum depression. That can make the time with the newborn even more difficult, and in some extremes, the mom might want to hurt herself or the baby. It's important to talk to the doctor about any feelings in the postpartum period because there could be treatments that can help her feel like herself again.
11 I Keep Having Headaches
Headaches happen to a lot of people. They can just be a part of being stressed or tired, and some people have migraines that can make the afternoon miserable. But headaches can also be a sign that something is really wrong.
In the first few weeks after the birth, the mom might have an epidural headache from leaking spinal fluid. It could also be a signal that the mom is experiencing preeclampsia, which can happen after the delivery. Moms who are concerned about their headaches should definitely talk to the doctor and not just write it off as a fact of life.
10 Getting Too Close Too Early
When the mom leaves the hospital after giving birth, the nurse will give her postpartum instructions that include abstaining from getting busy for six weeks. In the moment, especially if she gave birth naturally, most moms don't even want to think about that possibility. But sometimes they get started early, and they don't want to admit it to their doctor.
It might not be a big deal, but moms might also have to worry about whether or not they might already have another baby on board when talking about any birth control options. It happens, and moms will notice or have pain if she hasn't healed enough yet.
9 It Burns
Right after having a natural delivery, it isn't very pleasant to go to the bathroom. But after a few days, it shouldn't hurt as much. Yet new moms are very susceptible to infections, so if it burns when they go to the bathroom, they need to let the doctor know right away.
Urinary tract infections can happen because of the difficulty in getting everything clean, and moms' bodies are just more vulnerable in those postpartum days. A urinary tract infection can be easily treated, though, so there is no reason for a woman to suffer through the burning sensation without help.
8 I Have A Fever
A fever in a newborn in the first couple of months is very dangerous, but it can also be a big problem if the mom has a fever. It's something that she should get checked out right away, if for no other reason than to make sure that the newborn doesn't get vulnerable to an illness so early in life.
Most of the time, though, a fever in a new mom is a sign of mastitis, a condition caused by blocked milk ducts. It can also happen when a woman is engorged even if she isn't nursing. Fever is a sign of an infection, and the mom needs antibiotics to get well quickly.
7 I'm Worried About My Post-Baby Body
After growing for nine months, there are some moms who can't wait to regain their physical shape after birth. Others might not be in a rush but they could have worries about how things are shaping up. It's okay to talk to the doctor about that, especially since it can be dangerous to go above and beyond.
Moms who are nursing need to be aware that cutting calories can be a problem in their milk supply. And workouts need to be planned with potential issues such as cervical prolapse and tearing stitches in mind. The doctor can help the mom with setting realistic goals and determining the best way to achieve them.
6 I'm Not Using Protection
One of the questions that doctors ask in the postpartum ob appointment is about birth control. There are a number of options available to women, although if she is nursing she may be concerned about taking the pill. Moms might be embarrassed to tell the doctor that they don't plan on using protection, but if they do, they could learn a lot and make a different decision.
For one, some women believe that if they are nursing they can't get pregnant, but that's not always true. They might end up pregnant again, and there are some concerns to the body that the doctor might want to address. It's best to speak up and get all the information.
5 My Back Hurts
A backache can be part of life during pregnancy, but new moms should speak up if it doesn't go away in the postpartum period. During pregnancy, the ligaments in the pelvic area loosen up so that the baby can get through during the birth. But there is a possibility that the birth could damage those ligaments and cause sacroiliac dysfunction.
We understand how a new mom can write off a minor back issue because she is more concerned with her newborn. But we speak from experience in knowing that if you wait too long, things will only get worse. Most women get better with physical therapy but others might require surgery, especially if they wait to tell the doctor.
4 I'm So Sore And Cracked Up Top
A lot of women expect soreness and chapped nips when they are breastfeeding, but it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, other than some minor soreness at the beginning, pain can be a sign that breastfeeding is not going well. So moms should definitely bring up problems with the doctor, so they can get more advice.
Some women end up with minor cracking and leaking as the body gets used to the rigor of nursing, but the doctor might have tips such as using lanolin or even breastmilk as a lotion. With help, moms can figure out how to make the experience more enjoyable and successful.
3 I Don't Want To Do It
Many new dads can't wait until the mom gets the go-ahead to get busy. But moms don't necessarily look forward to the all clear. It usually comes around six weeks after the birth, but things can often still be sore down there and moms are afraid of any possible pain.
It's also normal to have a lower drive because of the postpartum hormones, especially if a mom is nursing and things are dryer down below. Many times the newborn is such a priority that time with the partner doesn't seem desirable, but it can also be a sign of postpartum depression and detachment. It's okay to talk to the doctor about any issues because he might have a solution — and it's okay to wait, too.
2 I Can't Control My Bladder
Lots of pregnant women have trouble with getting to the bathroom on time between the pregnancy hormones and the baby pressing on the bladder. They know that it's a part of pregnancy, but many times they expect the issue to clear up after the birth. Unfortunately, though, for some, it gets worse in the postpartum period.
That's because there might have been some damage during the delivery to the pelvic floor, which helps a woman control her body. Kegel exercises can help, but some women end up needing physical therapy or surgery to help. The OB can help the mom figure out her next steps.
1 I'm Anxious All The Time
Many women are aware of the dangers of postpartum depression, but that's not the only possibility when it comes to mental health concerns after the birth. For some women, postpartum hormones give them severe anxiety and maybe even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
All new moms have concerns about their newborn and how they will maintain their household in that first difficult month or two. But for some, it turns into a clinical concern. The OB can be the first doctor to help them figure out if they need treatment, and that could make all the difference in allowing a mom to enjoy that time with the baby.
Sources: Romper, Colorado Women's Health, Breastcancer.org