Know what post-birth warning signs to watch for

Graphic by Dylan Goforth/The Frontier

Forgotten Mothers: This story is part of an ongoing series by The Frontier to examine and investigate maternal health in Oklahoma.

Though most women who give birth do so without any problems, any woman can experience complications. It’s important to be able to recognize warning signs and know what to do if they occur. 

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has issued these guidelines and recommends always getting medical care if you feel unwell, or have questions or concerns. 

Call 911 if you have: 

  • Pain in your chest
  • Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath (trouble catching your breath)
  • Seizures — This could mean you have a condition called eclampsia. 
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby — This could mean you have postpartum depression.

Call your health care provider (or call 911 if that isn’t an option) if you have:

  • Bleeding; soaking though one pad in an hour or blood clots the size of an egg or bigger
  • An incision that is not healing — If you had an episiotomy or C-section it might mean you have an infection.
  • A red or swollen leg that is painful or warm to the touch — This might mean you have a blood clot.
  • A temperature of 100.4 Degrees Fahrenheit or higher — You could have an infection.
  • A headache that does not get better, ever after taking medicine, or a bad headache with vision changes — This could mean you have high blood pressure of post-birth preeclampsia. 

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.