What’s normal during postpartum (and what’s not)


by Catherine Bevan, MD

May 18, 2023

Hey there, mamas. Motherhood is a wild ride, and the journey just after childbirth—aka the postpartum period—is no exception. After delivering your little bundle of joy, you may feel like you need a cheat sheet on what to expect (and what not to). Look no further!

Let's navigate this rollercoaster together, with a healthy mix of medical science and real talk. It’s important to note that your postpartum experience and timeline may look different from your sister’s or friend’s, and that’s okay. Your OBGYN is your best resource and advocate, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or worries.

What’s normal during postpartum?

Baby blues

Feeling a bit weepy or moody? Don't worry, you're not alone! A whopping 70-80% of new moms go through the “baby blues,” which typically starts a few days after delivery and lasts for up to two weeks.

It's a cocktail of hormones, sleep deprivation and the overwhelming reality of caring for a tiny new human. Just remember, it's okay to cry when they're crying ... or even when they're not.

Postpartum bleeding

Let's talk about lochia. It's just the medical term for the bleeding and discharge that happens after you give birth. This can last for up to six weeks and will gradually change in color from bright red to brownish and finally to a whiteish-yellow.

Breasts going haywire

If your breasts are staging a revolt, it's a sign they've received the “milk memo.” They might become larger, tender or even leak a bit. This is all totally normal. Warm showers and supportive bras are your new best friends.

Hair loss

Losing more hair than usual? No need to panic! During pregnancy, increased estrogen levels put your hair in the “grow” phase. After delivery, as estrogen levels drop, more hair enters the “resting” phase and falls out. Your luscious locks should return to their pre-pregnancy state within a year.

What’s not normal during postpartum?

Alright, now that we've covered the basics, let's talk about some things that warrant a call to yours truly, or any healthcare professional you trust.

Postpartum depression

If the baby blues persist beyond a couple of weeks, or if feelings of sadness intensify, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Symptoms can include:

  • Deep sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

Please, reach out if you feel like you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Help is available, and you're not alone.

Postpartum hemorrhage

While some bleeding is normal, heavy bleeding that soaks a pad in an hour or less, or bleeding that contains large clots could be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage. This is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention.


If you've had a C-section, keep a watchful eye on your incision. Redness, swelling or oozing could indicate an infection. Also, if you have a fever over 100.4°F or severe pain in your abdomen or pelvic area, give your doctor a call.

Breast issues

Warm, red, tender spots on your breasts could be a sign of mastitis, an infection that can occur if you're breastfeeding. It's usually accompanied by flu-like symptoms. The sooner we treat it, the sooner you'll feel better.

Severe headaches or vision changes

These can be signs of a rare but serious condition called postpartum preeclampsia, especially if these symptoms are accompanied by high blood pressure. It's important to contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience these symptoms.

Navigating the postpartum experience

Alright, supermoms, that wraps up our little chat on the postpartum period.

Remember, you're navigating one of the most intense, beautiful, challenging and rewarding experiences life has to offer. There's no "perfect" way to do this. It's okay to ask for help, and it's okay to prioritize your own health. After all, you can't pour from an empty cup. Remember, your doctor is here for you on this journey. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns, no matter how big or small. Together, we'll make sure you're feeling your best so you can give your best to your new little one.

Stay strong, stay amazing and keep doing what you're doing. You’ve got this, mama!

Talk to your doctor about any concerning symptoms, or find an OBGYN near you.

About the Author

Dr. Bevan is a obstetrics and gynecology specialist in Fort Worth. She is affiliated with Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center - Fort Worth and Baylor Scott & White Surgicare - Fort Worth. Dr. Bevan has volunteered for a number of efforts, including a pediatric rotation in Bangalore, India, and a family health program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

We make it easy.

Healthcare doesn't have to be difficult. We're constantly finding ways to make it easy so that you can get Better and stay that way.

Better tools make it easier

We all have different healthcare needs. Handle them your way with the MyBSWHealth app. Download the app today and take a hands-on approach to your healthcare.

Text Better to 88408