Common Postpartum Complications

Many women have an uncomplicated recovery after pregnancy, labor and delivery, but there are potential postpartum complications that can arise after your baby is born. Some of the more common complications are:

  • postpartum infections, most often in the urinary tract and uterus
  • excessive bleeding after delivery
  • postpartum depression and/or “baby blues”.
  • sleep deprivation
  • breast and breastfeeding problems, such as swollen breasts, mastitis or clogged milk ducts
  • digestive and colorectal problems such as incontinence (both urinary and fecal), constipation and hemorrhoids
  • hair loss
  • perineal pain (the perineum is the area of skin and muscle between the vaginal opening and the anus).
  • vaginal pain
  • breast pain and tenderness
  • pain at the incision site if a C-section was performed
  • discomfort during sex
  • vaginal discharge
  • stretch marks

Signs of Infection After Birth

Many complications aren’t serious and can be treated at home or in your doctor’s office. But call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • vaginal bleeding that is saturating a pad every hour
  • flu-like symptoms accompanied by a high fever, rapid heart rate (above 100 beats per minute), tenderness in your lower abdomen, or a foul smelling vaginal discharge
  • a red, swollen or pus-filled C-section incision
  • pain, swelling or tenderness in your legs; most importantly one leg more than the other
  • persistent or increasing pain in the vaginal area
  • breast tenderness or pain that is accompanied by fever, chills, fatigue, headache or nausea and/or vomiting
  • breasts that are sore and hot to the touch
  • burning or pain with urination
  • feelings of sadness, hopelessness or depression last for more than a few days
  • a very high fever (over 100.5 degrees F or 38 degrees C)


  • experience sudden and heavy blood loss
  • have a headache with blurred vision or nausea and/or vomiting
  • are unable to care for your baby
  • experience upper abdominal pain or tenderness within 48 hours of delivery along with fatigue, nausea or vomiting
  • have a severe or persistent headache
  • have thoughts of harming yourself, your baby or anyone else
  • have chest pain or shortness of breath

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with your health. So if you do have any of the above symptoms,CLICK emergency for help:

Your postpartum body soon after birth

  • Gently touching your baby, such as patting or stroking your baby in their cot.
  • Check they do not need a nappy change.
  • Check they are not too hot or too cold.
  • Check it hasn't been longer than 2 to 3 hours since their last feed.
  • Using gentle shushing noises, settling music or white noise.s

Your postpartum body soon after birth

Our postpartum bodies can take some time to adjust and recover after having a baby. It is important to give yourself time to allow this to happen and try not to place too much emphasis on it.

Your priority in the early days and weeks is to look after yourself – and not put too much pressure or expectations on yourself and how you may look.

Of course, in today’s society where mothers face extreme pressure to “bounce back” it can be easier said that done. Remember, however, that much of what you see on Instagram, isn’t reality – and many celebrities have chefs, personal trainers and nannies!

Your postpartum body in the months following birth

Adjusting to parenthood often results in changes to your usual patterns of eating, sleeping and leisure time – as well as most other facets of life! You may find yourself eating more, due to there being less structure in your day. Others may turn to comfort-eating. For some, the stress and demands of parenthood can mean skipping meals as there’s less time to eat properly. Breastfeeding can also impact women differently, leading to weight loss in many women but not in others.

As a result, while some people may remain similar in size and/or shape after pregnancy and having a baby, for others, it can lead to significant weight loss or weight gain. These changes in our bodies and body image can impact greatly on our energy levels and self-esteem.

There are, however, many things we can do to look after ourselves during and after pregnancy. In particular, this includes eating well and exercising – both of which are great for not only our energy levels and self-esteem, but also for the prevention and even treatment of mild postnatal depression.

For many parents, however, depending on your other commitments, priorities and available time and resources – this may not be possible, nor your highest priority. And that’s completely OK.

Adjusting to your postpartum body is likely to require some level of self-acceptance as there may be short, medium or long term changes in the way your body looks and feels.

While your body may not feel like yours, in time it will.

Need some help with adjusting to parenthood?

Get timely, supportive advice and reassurance throughout your first year of parenthood. Seek PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

Where can I find help regarding postnatal body changes?

For some women, body changes after birth can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and mood. If you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone and help is available.

You can find a health professional skilled in the treatment of body image concerns.

Sex and contraception after birth

There are no rules about when to start having sex again after you have given birth.

You'll probably feel sore as well as tired after your baby is born, so don't rush into it.

You may want to start contraception therapy. Contact a HEALTH PROFESSIONAL

Hormonal changes after birth can make your vagina feel drier than usual.

You may be worried about changes to your body or getting pregnant again. Men may worry about hurting their partner.

It might be some time before you want to have sex. Until then, both of you can carry on being loving and close in other ways.

If you or your partner have any worries, talk about them together. You can talk with a HEALTH PROFESSIONAL for contraceptive advice and more information.


After a laborious process of childbirth, knowing what to eat is necessary in your postpartum recovery process. Nursing mothers should make healthy choices with a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy each day as this may impact on the amount of certain nutrients given to your newborn while breastfeeding. TALK TO OUR PROFESSIONAL NUTRITIONIST to take you through the journey of motherhood with the best diet formulas.

Your relationships

Having a baby brings a lot of changes to your life, which may affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends. You might become much closer to some people whereas other relationships may become more distant.

Support from others can be a big help, especially in the early days.

Your relationship with your partner

Caring for a newborn, together with the sleepless nights, can mean you and your partner have less time for each other. It’s natural for your relationship to change for a while after the birth.

Try to find time for each other when you can. Maybe you can have a few minutes alone while the baby naps. Or friends and family might babysit.

You might find that you’re arguing more than usual. Taking turns to speak and really listen to each other can help you find positive ways to work together. Keeping your feelings to yourself can cause more problems in the long run so try to be honest about how you feel.

Talk to our COUNSELLOR

Co-parenting (single parent)

If you’re not in a relationship with the mum or birthing parent, it can take time to develop your own way of working together. You can help to make this easier by agreeing what your roles will be and talking regularly about how things are going. This may involve making some compromises along the way.

COUNSELLOR has information for separated and divorced parents.

Relationships with family and friends

You may find that your relationships with family and friends change after you have a baby. You might become much closer to some people. Others might find it hard to understand how you’re feeling.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Often, people want to support you but they might not know how.

More support and information from HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.

How long does it take to recover after giving birth?

No matter how you gave birth, the first six weeks postpartum are considered a “recovery” period. Even if you sailed through your pregnancy and had the easiest delivery on record (and especially if you didn’t), your body has been stretched and stressed to the max, and as you can already tell, it needs a chance to regroup.

Keep in mind that every new mom is different, so every woman will recover at a different rate with different postpartum symptoms. The majority of these ease up within a week, while others (sore nipples, backaches and sometimes perineal pain) may continue for at least a few weeks, and still others (like leaky breasts) might stick around until your baby is a little older.

If you’ve had a vaginal birth, you’re probably also wondering how long it will take for soreness to go away and your perineum to heal. Recovery can take anywhere from three weeks if you didn’t tear to six weeks or more if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy. To ease discomfort, your doctor may advise you to try sitting on a pillow or padded ring, or cooling the area with an ice pack. A warm sit bath can also help.

Wondering if your vagina will ever be the same after birth? Not exactly — though it will likely be very close. Expect the swelling to recede, and within a few weeks your vagina will have contracted and regained much of its muscle tone. Your uterus should also be back to its normal size by the sixth week. If you have any concerns, be sure to express them to your doctor. In case of anything, please talk to our HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.


After childbirth, some parents itch to get back into a regular exercise routine. But it's not as easy as hopping on the treadmill or rejoining your pre-baby classes.

Here's what you need to know about postpartum exercise, including how to get started and stay safe.

When Can You Exercise After Giving Birth?

You can usually start light walking within a few days of giving birth if you had a normal vaginal delivery. It always takes about 20 to 30 minutes of walking per day.

Start by taking a five-minute walk, then come home and see how you feel. If nothing bleeds, pulls, or aches, take a six-minute walk tomorrow and a seven-minute walk the next day. During these first few forays out into the world, don't carry your baby in a front-facing carrier or push them in a stroller because the strain may be too much. After you've walked comfortably and safely for a week or two, build up from there, adding some gentle upper-body stretching or a postpartum exercise class (but get the green light from your HEALTH CARE PROVIDER first).

Keep in mind, if you had a C-section or complications, you may need to take it even slower. Talk to your HEALTH CARE PROVIDER about

when it's safe for you to begin exercising and how much you should do each day.