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Postpartum Bleeding: What You Need to Know

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of post-birth and postpartum bleeding! You’ve just become a mum. Your stitches hurt and you’re still not sure how breastfeeding works. Never mind that — what’s with all this blood?

Regardless of whether you delivered vaginally or by Caesarean section, you'll still experience postpartum bleeding from your vagina. At first, expect it to be very heavy and red in colour. The amount of blood will gradually reduce over the following days and weeks and will change to a brownish colour over time. Postpartum bleeding can last anywhere from two to six weeks after delivery (sometimes longer) - so you should seriously stock up on maternity pads!

Just remember that it’s normal

Nobody can ever fully prepare you for how messy birth and its aftermath is but knowing that you’ll have postpartum bleeding is an important part of preparing for your life post-birth. Lochia is perfectly normal after birth, but if you do bleed for longer than outlined in the above stages, pass a lot of blood clots or if you aren’t feeling well, don’t hesitate to consult a nurse or your GP.

Find out more about what to expect from your period before and after pregnancy with our pregnancy advice.

Endometriosis

What you need to know about postpartum bleeding

Lochia, as it’s called, is your body’s way of shedding the lining of your uterus. The discharge itself is the blood, cells, mucus and tissues shedding from the womb once your baby has been born.

Sort of, except it’s much heavier, especially in the beginning. It might also be a slightly different colour. Expect to see the flow start off bright red, turn pinkish-brown, and finally, become creamy or off-white. Breastfeeding can sometimes make the bleeding redder or heavier — it’s a hormone thing.

Lochia has three stages. They are:

  • Lochia rubra. Comprised of blood and shreds of foetal membranes, it’s generally quite red and may last for between three to five days following birth. You’ll probably change your pad quite often.
  • Lochia serosa. The lochia has thinned out and turned brownish or pink. Made up of predominantly red blood cells, cervical mucus and micro-organisms, you’ll see it for around 5-10 days following birth.
  • Lochia alba. Whitish or creamy-yellow, it typically lasts from two to six weeks after delivery. It contains fewer red blood cells and more white blood cells, tissue, mucus and again, micro-organisms.

Every person is different, but you can expect to bleed for between two to six weeks.

It’s recommended that you don't use tampons in the weeks after childbirth. Wait until after your six-week check and your post partum periods start again before using tampons.

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