Post-Partum Bleeding: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

As you prepare for the days after childbirth, it’s normal to focus on the expectations and needs of your new baby. However, there will also be some notable changes within your own body during the post-partum period, including lochia. Lochia is referred to as the vaginal bleeding that occurs after childbirth as the placenta is shed. Knowing how much bleeding after delivery is normal can alleviate unnecessary anxiety and help you understand when to seek attention from your doctor.

What to Expect with Lochia?

Lochia will look much like your menstrual period. This bloody discharge after giving birth is composed of the mucous membrane that lined your uterus during pregnancy as well as red and white blood cells. It is important to know that lochia is a completely natural occurrence that happens whether you had a vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery. Here is what you can expect in terms of duration, appearance and amount of post-partum bleeding:

Duration. The lochia bleeding process can last up to six weeks after delivery. Keep in mind that your uterus is also trying to return to its normal size and state. Plan to wear pads to manage your bleeding, as tampons may bring bacteria and disruption to the genital tract and uterus as it is trying to heal.

Consistency & Color. The appearance of your lochia can vary widely. Small clots can be normal, and the color may be reddish-brown, especially during the immediate days after delivery. Afterwards, you will likely find that your bleeding becomes watery and gets pink or brown in color. You’ll know that your lochia is coming to an end when the color moves to a whitish, pale shade of blood. This indicates that the red blood cells have been shed. This pale discharge can linger into your sixth to eighth week after labor. 

Amount. You should expect your bleeding to be heaviest during the first two weeks after giving birth. The amount should gradually decrease over a six-week period. Don’t be alarmed if your bleeding becomes heavier when you are physically active or while you are breastfeeding.

When Lochia Needs Medical Attention?

If you are questioning the normalcy of your bleeding after childbirth, always consult your physician for clarification. However, the following lochia symptoms typically warrant a trip to your OB’s office for further evaluation:

 

At North Pointe OB/GYN, we are here to help you navigate the post-partum stage, which includes taking care of your baby as well as paying attention to your own health. Contact our office today to learn more about what you can personally expect with lochia or post-partum bleeding.

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