Just as every childbirth is different, so is postpartum recovery.

Some new parents seem to be back on their feet in no time at all after birth, while others require a longer rest period. And even though many first-time parents take childbirth classes, most don’t have a whole lot of information about what to expect regarding recovery during the postpartum period.

How long should I be bleeding? Are these blood clots too big? Why am I so swollen? Should my scar hurt this much? Is it normal to be crying all day? I’m having weird headaches. Is something falling out of my vagina? Googling my symptoms makes me even more confused. How do I know when to call my doctor?

These questions are perfectly legitimate after a major physical event, and in an ideal world, you would have frequent, scheduled access to your healthcare provider for answers that are specific to your situation. The World Health Organization recommends routine follow up postpartum care at 3 days, 1-2 weeks, and 6 weeks after birth, and according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all postpartum individuals should have contact with their medical provider within three weeks of giving birth.

Unfortunately, many American women do not have a postpartum follow up visit until around 6 weeks after birth. On top of that, as many as 40% of new moms do not attend this postpartum follow up appointment for a wide variety of reasons, including childcare limitations, work commitments, transportation, financial barriers, and more.

The fact is that most new mothers are not receiving the routine postpartum care that would allow us to get answers and guidance from a professional we know and trust. It’s natural to want to reach out, and a quality provider will welcome your questions and concerns. However, there are some signs and symptoms that might seem “normal” during this postpartum adjustment period that may actually be related to more serious health concerns. Allowing these signs and symptoms to continue unchecked can have devastating results on women’s health. […]