Unexpected Postpartum Symptoms

Mother and newborn baby on blanket

Yuko Hirao / Stocksy United

Having a baby is hard work. You have to go through something called labor to get the baby out. And then, the postpartum recovery period comes with a list of really interesting symptoms. Everything after birth seems a bit different, but here are the postpartum symptoms that women often say surprised them after birth.


A couple of days after you give birth, you may find that you're sweating a lot. You may wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat. Sometimes women experience this odd post-labor and birth symptom only at night, while others find it happens all day. This is normal and should only last a few weeks.

Try to shower when you can and wear absorbent fabrics like cotton when you sleep to help make you more comfortable. You might choose light nightclothes that can be taken off in layers, should you get warm. Some women also find cotton sheets are cooler than other fabrics.


You expect the postpartum bleeding, but it's the blood clots you might not think about. These clots of blood can come out most frequently in the first few days. This usually happens after you've been resting a while and stand up. You will experience this bleeding even if you had a C-section—this surprises many moms.

If you are passing very large clots, have a very heavy flow (soaking through one pad every one to two hours), or the amount of bleeding suddenly increases, it is time to call your doctor or midwife. Also call your health care provider if you notice a foul smell coming from your vagina, you feel dizzy, you have a fever, you feel weak, you are having trouble breathing, or you feel worried.


Just when you thought that swelling was a thing of the past, it's back. Many women receive IV fluids in labor, and this can contribute to postpartum swelling in the first few days post-birth. The good news is that it's often very short-lived. (But if it doesn't go away, tell your doctor.)


The first thing that a lot of moms say after the immediate glow of the new baby is: "I'm hungry!" They want real food. This feeling of hunger can last a few days or a few months. Don't stress too much about the need to eat.

Be sure that you are choosing snacks that are wise for your nutritional needs. In the first weeks, you should not be focused on weight loss. Your body is recovering from a major event, and you have caloric needs to help repair your body as well as to produce breast milk if you are breastfeeding.

Hair Loss

You're taking a shower and you notice that you have a lot of hair in the drain. Don't worry; you are not going bald. The hair that was slated to go in pregnancy but stayed to give you that beautiful mane has to go, and the time is now. This usually happens for a few months before leveling off. If it continues much past this, you might ask your doctor or midwife to check your thyroid and iron levels.

A Word From Verywell

Remember that your doctor or midwife is there to answer your questions about your postpartum symptoms. You do not need to wait until your six-week checkup to ask a question. If you aren't sure what's going on, or if what you're experiencing is concerning to you, don't hesitate to call.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.