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Contributed by Allyson Rizk, MSN, RNC-MNN, CNML | Nurse Manager Postpartum


In the weeks following childbirth, all eyes tend to be on the newborn. Everyone is watching to ensure that eating, sleeping and other important functions of this new life are normal and healthy. While that vigilance is good, it’s important to remember that the patient who is recovering from giving birth needs attention, too.

Most of the time, patients recover from giving birth without problems. But complications following delivery are possible for anyone. Sometimes, especially for patients who have given birth for the first time, it isn’t easy to know which symptoms are normal and which are cause for concern.

At MetroHealth, we work hard to educate our patients who have recently delivered about the things they shouldn’t ignore after they return home. These warning signs fall into two categories, those that should prompt an immediate call to 911 and those that patients should contact their doctor to report.

We use the acronym POST-BIRTH* to help patients and their families recognize problems and know what to do if they develop.

Call 911 if the patient experiences:

Pain in their chest

Obstructed breathing or shortness of breath


Thoughts of hurting themselves or the baby

Call the health care provider (or, if unable to reach the provider, call 911 or go to an emergency room) if the patient has:

Bleeding that soaks through one pad within one hour or blood clots the size of an egg or larger.

Incision that is not healing.

Red or swollen leg that is painful or warm to the touch.

Temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.

Headache that does not get better with medicine or a severe headache with vision changes.

We tell our patients to listen to their instincts. If something seems off or is worrisome, they should call their provider. There is far too much at risk to not be on alert: Maternal mortality rate has increased nationally since 2018 by 89%. Black women are two-and-a-half times more likely to die than white or Hispanic women. But many of those deaths are preventable if we follow POST-BIRTH protocol.

At MetroHealth, we will always take our patients’ concerns seriously and will follow up to ensure their recovery is progressing as it should.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit or call 216-778-4444.


* Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neo-Natal Nurses


Allyson Rizk, MSN, RNC-MNN, CNML

Nurse Manager Postpartum