While you’ve already experienced a lot of changes since you found out you were expecting, there will be more changes in your body postpartum. It’s completely normal, so don’t worry.
What can you read in this article?
- What is lochia after birth or postpartum bleeding
- How long does postpartum bleeding last
- What are the lochia types
What would help though is to know what to expect, so you won’t be so surprised and stressed out when it arrives. This way, it would be easier for your body and mind to adjust.
1. What is lochia?
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Postpartum bleeding is also known as Lochia. According to Mr. Ellis Downes, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist at the Portland Hospital in London, Lochia is a mixture of amniotic fluid, tissue, and blood, and this bleeding is completely normal.
After birth, Lochia or postpartum bleeding or discharge is your body’s way of eliminating the excess blood and discharge from your uterus. This blood comes from the placenta separated from the uterine wall, which caused a raw wound that must be healed. This process is similar when your endometrial lining is released through menstruation.
This bleeding after birth can be heavy for the first two days but then subsides. In the first two days, you will probably require pad changes every 3-4 hours.
After that, pad changes will be every 6-8 hours. If you have lochia, it is advised to use sanitary pads and napkins instead of tampons, as tampons increase the risk of infection in your healing vagina and uterus.
Lochia will stop about one month after delivery. For some women, it can last for 6-8 weeks. According to an article published in the Singapore Family Physician, “After the delivery, the lochia is initially red (lochia rubrum), slowly changing to pale brownish (lochia serosa) and finally to yellowish-white (lochia alba).” Lochia rubrum should begin changing color about two days postpartum.
Lochia can also cause period-like cramps – or tiny contractions – which help the uterus contract back to its usual size, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
The discomfort is merely the uterus decreasing back to its usual size, and it is nothing to be concerned about. They happen when women’s levels of the hormone oxytocin rise. This is the ‘feel-good’ hormone that aids in the bonding of mothers and the stimulation of milk production.
2. Lochia Types
Lochia after birth will occur in 3 stages – lochia rubra, lochia alba, and lochia serosa. These are the most common types of lochia, however, each woman is unique, and some stages of lochia may last longer or shorter than others.
1. Lochia Rubra
During this postpartum bleeding stage, the discharge is red in color (rubra) and lasts from the first postpartum day to the fourth, and occasionally the seventh, postpartum day. Blood, fetal membrane fragments, decidua, meconium, and cervical discharge make up the majority of it.
2. Lochia Alba
Lochia alba is a discharge that contains leucocytes and mucus and is creamy or whitish in appearance. It lasts for 10 to 14 days after delivery. Decidual cells, mucus, white blood cells, and epithelial cells make up the majority of Lochia alba.
3. Lochia Serosa
Over the course of a week, Lochia rubra’s color changes from red to brown to yellow. At this stage, it’s known as lochia serosa. Lochia serosa is a pink yellow discharge that lasts 3 to 4 days and contains less blood and more serum.
There are fewer red blood cells in the lochia serosa, but there are more white blood cells, wound discharge from the placenta and other locations, and mucus from the cervix.
3. Does Lochia smell?
Because Lochia is blood, there will be an odor, but it should be minimal. It would smell quite similar to menstrual fluid but some people describe it as stale and musty. It also has a faint metallic odor but is not so intense that it would make you feel uneasy.
If the Lochia smell is too much or is bothersome, it could be something else and might require medical attention, especially if it’s accompanied by abdominal pain.
Contamination or infection might be indicated by foul-smelling lochia with a fishy odor or greenish lochia. The infection may either be in the womb or around any vaginal rips you’ve had after childbirth.
If you don’t treat an infection, it can become serious, especially if it’s surrounding your uterus, as it can lead to issues like blood clots or bladder infections. However, it is manageable with treatment, as long as you report it immediately.
If you notice this in your Lochia, consult your doctor right away and ask for medical help.
4. How long does postpartum bleeding last?
The duration of postpartum bleeding varies in mothers. It does, however, endure for about six weeks. However, it is possible for lochia to disappear completely in two weeks or to last for ten weeks.
It is also normal for Lochia to stop and start again. Lochia is similar to a menstrual period. When you begin to be more active or go for a walk early in the postpartum period, it’s very likely to increase.
Breastfeeding can also increase the flow because the hormone oxytocin causes uterine contractions, which push more lochia out.
How long does bleeding last after birth if breastfeeding
If you are not breastfeeding, you can expect your period to resume after 6-8 weeks. If you are breastfeeding, your period will probably resume only after you stop breastfeeding.
How long does postpartum bleeding last after C-section
Lochia takes a little longer to resolve after a Caesarean section because the uterus takes a little longer to involute (return to normal size). However, it varies in mothers. Some women have longer bleedings, while some have minor ones.
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5. How to stop postpartum bleeding faster?
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You cannot stop it faster but you can, however, reduce the bleeding through the following methods:
- Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding produces oxytocin, a hormone that aids in uterine contraction and minimizes bleeding.
- Avoiding early contraception – It’s advised to avoid sex for at least 6 weeks after giving birth. It’s advisable to wait until your postpartum visit before starting hormonal birth control, as this can lead to more bleeding and spotting.
- Urinating more frequently – A full bladder can dilate or soften the uterus, causing greater bleeding.
- Iron – Hemorrhaging after birth can be caused by a lack of iron. Low iron is prevalent, especially in women, and is a key aspect of blood formation.
- Herbal remedies
- Avoiding ibuprofen and aspirin – Medications that thin the blood can cause you to bleed more heavily or for longer periods of time.
You can also cope with the postpartum bleeding by:
- Using sanitary pads and not tampons. Using tampons increases your risk of infection especially since your uterus and vagina are still healing.
- Prevent irritation by changing your pad at least every 4 hours.
- Avoid penetrative sex.
- Being in comfortable clothes, especially those ones you don’t mind getting stained.
- Not worrying about it (unless it seems abnormal!) The large wound inside you needs to heal, bleeding is normal.
6. Should Lochia be treated?
You don’t have to treat Lochia. There’s nothing you can do to avoid or stop lochia; it’s a natural component of your body’s postpartum healing process.
You won’t be passing nearly as much lochia once your uterus has recovered to normal size (if at all). However, it’s critical to keep an eye on the lochia and ensure that it remains within normal limits.
7. When to call the Doctor?
When should you be worried and when should you call your doctor about postpartum bleeding?
1. If you pass large blood clots
Contact your midwife or doctor right immediately if you pass large clots beyond the first 24 hours or if you continue to pass blood clots after a week.
2. Bleeding increases rather than decreases
The first few days after giving birth, Lochia flow will be heavy. Over time, the amount should steadily decrease. Contact your midwife or GP right away if the blood flow suddenly becomes heavier than it was, or if it continues to be a heavy or moderate loss for more than a week.
3. The Lochia smell is weird or strange
You may have an infection in your womb if your blood loss smells unusual or awful. You could also get an infection in your vaginal or perineum as a result of any tears you had during giving delivery.
4. You’re experiencing pelvic pain
Pelvic discomfort can be caused by a urinary infection or constipation. Drink plenty of water in both circumstances and notify your midwife or doctor as soon as possible. Constipation, which is fairly common after giving birth, can be relieved with a light laxative or dietary adjustment.
If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, it is also best to call your doctor right away:
- Green-colored vaginal discharge
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Racing heart
- Blurred vision
- Severe cramping
- Swelling and pain in your vagina or perineum
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Postpartum bleeding is caused in part by the wound left behind when the placenta detaches at birth and begins to scab over and heal. It is completely normal, nevertheless, don’t forget to take care of yourself still. Take it gently and be soft to yourself. Rest as much as you can when caring for a newborn and allow your body to naturally heal.
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