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Press Release

Merck Manuals Provides Advice, Resources for Postpartum Health

Posted on: 30 Nov 17

KENILWORTH, N.J., Nov. 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Expecting mothers devote time and energy to learning how to keep their newborn babies healthy and happy. Yet when it comes to their own health, many mothers don't take the time to learn which changes in their own health are normal and which could indicate a more serious problem.

Challenges and complications during the postpartum period (the six weeks following delivery) are more common than many mothers and their families think. Merck Manuals author and obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Lara Friel discusses these risks in a new editorial on the site.

To help mothers stay healthy and provide the best care for their baby, Dr. Friel shares three things new mothers and their support networks should keep in mind in the exciting time around the birth of a new baby.

1. Know the most common risks to maternal health

Mothers and their loved ones should keep a close eye out for symptoms of four common complications soon after bringing their baby home:

Excessive bleeding -- While rare, postpartum hemorrhage does occur and mothers should alert their doctors if they experience heavy (more than a cup) bright red bleeding several days later.

Infection -- Fever, chills and muscle aches along with abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, or frequent or painful urination are all potential signs of infection.

Issues with breastfeeding -- Mothers should try to be aware of how much milk their baby is getting and watch for breastfeeding complications affecting their health, too.

Depression -- It can often be difficult to distinguish a normal reaction to the challenges of a newborn from symptoms of postpartum depression, like irritability and mood swings.

Depression is particularly important to watch for. Rapidly changing hormones combined with a lack of sleep results in postpartum depression in as many of 15 percent of new mothers. It's more common in women who've had depressive episodes in the past.

2. Rely on your village

Whenever possible, new mothers should get some support in the first few weeks after giving birth, which can allow them to rest and focus on their own health. This can be support from a spouse, family member, friend, or hired help.

Family, friends and loved ones should be vigilant in watching for potential negative changes in a mother's health. Mothers may be tired and busy, but they should still be eating, getting dressed and leaving the house. Not doing these things may be a sign of something more than the exhaustion of caring for a newborn.

3. Remember that all pregnancies are different

Maternal health issues are not limited to women who have just had their first child. Every baby – and delivery – is different. In fact, the challenges that come with trying to raise a newborn with other little ones at home can often make the postpartum period more difficult on mothers.

Ultimately, mothers should stay in touch with their doctors and find a network of support in the exhausting and exciting time welcoming a newborn into their home. A healthy mother will be better equipped to make sure her baby stays healthy, too.

Learn more about common postpartum health at

About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals

First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. In 2015, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit or and connect with us on social media: 

For Consumers in the U.S. and its territories: Twitter and Facebook
For Professionals in the U.S. and its territories: Twitter and Facebook

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Editor's Details

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 30/11/2017

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