MSD Manual

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After Pregnancy and Childbirth (Postpartum): When to Call the Doctor

After Pregnancy and Childbirth (Postpartum): When to Call the Doctor



Possible Cause


If blood soaks a sanitary pad every hour for more than 2 hours

If the discharge smells foul

If the discharge contains very large clots (larger than a golf ball)


If the temperature is 100.4° F (38° C) or higher at any time during the first week


If urination hurts (not just stings) or women have an urge to urinate very frequently

If the bladder cannot be emptied completely

Lower abdomen

If pain or discomfort is felt in the lower abdomen (above the pubic area) after the first 5 days

Infection of the uterus or bladder


If pain is felt in the back or side just under the rib cage, particularly if fever is also present or urination is painful

Kidney infection


If a firm lump is felt in the breast after engorgement has subsided

A blocked milk duct

If the breast is painful, swollen, or red or feels hot or tender


If a new mother has any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks:

  • A very sad mood

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Frequent crying

  • Sleep problems (too much or too little)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Overeating

  • Irritability

  • Inability to care for herself or her newborn

Incision from a cesarean delivery

If soreness increases

If this area turns red or becomes swollen or hard to the touch

If there is any discharge from the incision

Wound infection

Leg or chest

If the leg is swollen or painful

If a new mother has sudden, sharp chest pain or chest pain that worsens when she inhales

If breathing becomes difficult


If a new mother feels light-headed, faints, or feels short of breath

A blood clot in the lungs

Severe anemia