You’ve welcomed a beautiful bundle of joy into the world – congrats! Having a baby comes along with a lot of physical changes to your body. Some of them can be quite surprising, like bleeding after giving birth.
Bleeding after giving birth is perfectly normal. In fact, there’s even a name for post-pregnancy bleeding. It’s called lochia. Lochia after birth is bloody fluid made up of blood, placental tissue, endometrial lining and mucous. Normal postpartum bleeding continues for 3 to 6 weeks as your uterus heals and returns to its usual shape and size.
Why this happens
Lochia is your body’s way of getting rid of the extra blood and tissue in your uterus that helped your baby grow. The blood in lochia comes mostly from the area where the placenta detached itself from the uterine wall during birth, leaving a wound that needs to heal. The endometrial lining, which thickens during pregnancy, also removes itself, similar to when you have your period.
What to expect
You’ll go through three postpartum bleeding stages.
Bleeding is heaviest the first few days after giving birth. Blood will be bright red and will be very heavy. It is normal to see clots in your lochia during this stage. As long as your clots are no larger than a small plum, this is part and parcel of normal postpartum bleeding. You may feel cramping and uterine contractions as your uterus returns to its usual size.
Your blood flow will lighten. Its colour will change from red to a watery pink. Your placental wound will likely still be bleeding, but it will be significantly lighter than the first few days after giving birth.
Lochia changes from pink to a yellowish-whitish colour. You may still experience occasional spotting of blood. This stage of postpartum bleeding is mostly white blood cells leaving the body after they helped to heal your uterus after birth.
What to do
All of this bleeding after giving birth can be worrying for a new mum. While changing nappies and caring for your little one, you may be wondering how to provide protection and comfort for yourself as well. Regular menstrual pads just don’t cut it. You may even find yourself soaking through one every three hours or so. Definitely do not use tampons. This can be very dangerous after giving birth. Instead, a product like Always Discreet underpants are great for bleeding after giving birth, especially during the first stage when bleeding is heaviest. Always Discreet are super thin and flexible, which means they are very comfortable. They use special gel technology that locks in moisture and fluid, keeping your skin dry. You may even forget you have one on.
When to call a doctor
Bleeding is heavy for the first few days after your give birth. However, if heavy bleeding persists after that, call your doctor.
In some cases, heavy bleeding after giving birth is a sign of postpartum haemorrhage. While it is most likely to happen in the first 24 hours after giving birth, postpartum haemorrhage can take place anytime during the first 12 weeks after birth. Postpartum is very serious and needs immediate attention. It can make your blood pressure drop so much that your organs don’t get enough blood. This can cause death. If you think you have postpartum haemorrhage, head to A&E. Here are some signs to look out for:
Bright red bleeding beyond the third day after birth
Blood clots bigger than a plum
Bleeding that soaks more than one sanitary pad an hour and doesn’t slow down or stop
Cramping pains in the pelvis