After your baby has been born, regardless of whether you had a normal delivery or a Caesarean section, you'll experience bleeding released from the vagina. At first the bleeding can be very heavy and red in colour, especially if you’re breastfeeding. It gradually gets less and less over the following days and weeks and will change to a brownish colour over time.
This bleeding after birth is called lochia and comes in three stages. It is your body’s way of getting rid of the lining of your uterus. It can last anywhere from two to six weeks after delivery (sometimes longer) – hence the need to stock your hospital bag (and home) up with maternity pads!
- Lochia rubra is the first discharge of blood you will notice and is comprised of blood and shreds of fetal membranes. It is generally quite red in colour and may last for between 3-5 days following birth. During this time you may find you are changing your pad quite frequently.
- Lochia serosa is the term used to describe when lochia has thinned out and turned brownish or pink in colour. It is made up of predominantly red blood cells, cervical mucus and micro-organisms and can be noticed for between 5-10 days following birth.
- Lochia alba is the name for lochia once it has turned whitish or creamy-yellow. It typically lasts from 2-6 weeks after delivery. It contains fewer red blood cells and more white blood cells, tissue, mucus and again micro-organisms.
Lochia (post-natal bleeding) is perfectly normal following the birth of your baby, but if you find that any of these stages continue longer than stated, it may be worth having a chat to your midwife or GP.