Giving birth to your baby after 9 months can be a relieving, beautiful and exciting experience. Postpartum your body will still be going through adjustments for a while, and as you care for your new baby, you’ll need to remember to take care of yourself as well.
Postpartum bleeding, also known as lochia, is normal after both vaginal and c-section births, however, it is best to know what is and isn’t common in post birth bleeding.
Normal postpartum bleeding
Lochia is similar to menstruation in the way in which it is made up of blood and tissue, it’s just heavier and longer lasting – it should stop between 4 and 6 weeks after giving birth.
Initially, your bleeding will be heavy. This first phase of postpartum bleeding is known as lochia rubra and you’ll experience this in the first 3 to 4 days. Bleeding will be red to reddy brown and you may have small clots.
In the next few days after birth your lochia will decrease in volume. Lochia serosa lasts 4 to 10 days and during this period your blood will darken in colour and become more watery. Blood clots should get smaller and disappear.
Finally you’ll experience lochia alba, which usually lasts about another 1 to 2 weeks, but can be up to 28 days. Discharge will be yellowy white in colour, you may see pinkish or brown stains on some days. There should be no smell other than what you would experience during a normal period – a strong odor can be a sign of an infection.
When to reach out to your doctor
Even though lochia is normal, if you are bleeding heavily this can indicate that you have a postpartum haemorrhage. If your bleeding is heavy a week after birth, you experience fever or chills, a tender abdomen or foul-smelling discharge, you’ll need to seek medical assistance.