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Body Changes After the Baby

Postpartum symptoms can catch new moms by surprise. Here, a guide to what you can expect, from Michelle Sang, M.D., an associate clinical professor of ob-gyn at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.  

Expect: Fever  

What's normal: A low-grade fever is common among breastfeeding moms in the first few days after birth when breast milk comes in.  

What's not: If the fever is over 101°F, it may signal an infection, which requires a doctor's care and possibly antibiotics.  


Expect: The "blues"

What's normal: Plummeting postbaby estrogen levels can trigger a mood dip: It's normal to feel emotional, irritable, anxious, or overwhelmed in the early weeks.

What's not: A blue mood that doesn't start to improve after the first two weeks. Other red flags: crying all the time or feeling extremely resentful of your baby.


Expect: Bleeding

What's normal: Bleeding (called lochia) for up to six weeks after delivery that is heavy in the first two weeks and then starts to taper off.

What's not: If the flow turns bright red after the fourth day, contains large clots, or has an unpleasant odor, see your doctor.


Expect: Frequent urination

What's normal: Frequent peeing due to the extra fluid of pregnancy and discomfort if you had a catheter in during delivery.

What's not: Pain or burning that occurs during urination or having dark or limited urine -- all can be signs of infection.


Expect: Lower abdominal pain

What's normal: Contractions called "afterpains," which help the uterus return to its normal size. They can intensify during breastfeeding.

What's not: See a doctor for swelling or pain that persists; it may signal a retained placenta, which can be dangerous.