Lochia & Postpartum Bleeding

If you have a vaginal delivery or Cesarean section, you will also experience vaginal bleeding and discharge after birth. This is known as lochia. Lochia is essentially how the postpartum body gets rid of the extra blood and tissue in your uterus left after delivery. 

Bleeding is heaviest the first few days after your baby is born. But if heavy bleeding continues after that, you may need to call your doctor

Bleeding typically lasts around for 24 to 36 days. If your lochia lasts longer that six weeks, don’t worry. That’s normal too .

Bleeding will start off heavy and red to browny red. It will become lighter in color and flow over time.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Day 1: Fresh red to brownish-red blood. Heavy flow that probably soaks one maternity pad every few hours, with one or two clots or several smaller ones.
  • Day 2 to 6: Darker brown or pinkish red blood. Moderate flow with 7 cm to 12 cm stains on your maternity pads and smaller blood clots.
  • Day 7 to 10: Darker brown or pinkish red blood, becoming lighter. Variable but lighter flow, with less than a 7 cm stain on your pads.
  • Days 11 to 14: Darker brown or pinkish red blood, becoming lighter. Lighter flow, you may have some sanitary towels that are hardly stained.
  • Week 3 to 4: Paler, possibly a creamy white blood loss. Lighter flow.
  • Week 5 to 6: Brown, pinkish red, or creamy yellow stains, possibly for several weeks, and possibly only on some days. 

Unlike lochia, there is a phenomena called Postpartum hemorrhage (also called PPH).  PPH is when a woman has heavy bleeding after giving birth. It’s a serious but rare condition. It usually happens within 1 day of giving birth, but it can happen up to 12 weeks after having a baby. About 1 to 5 in 100 women who have a baby (1 to 5 percent) have PPH. 

PPH can cause a severe drop in blood pressure. If not treated quickly, this can lead to shock and death. Shock is when your body organs don’t get enough blood flow. 

It’s normal to lose some blood after giving birth. Women usually lose about half a quart (500 milliliters) during vaginal birth or about 1 quart (1,000 milliliters) after a cesarean birth (also called c-section). A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus (womb). With PPH, you can lose much more blood, which is what makes it a dangerous condition.

You may have PPH if you have any of these signs or symptoms. If you do, call your health care provider right away

  • Heavy bleeding from the vagina that doesn’t slow or stop
  • Drop in blood pressure or signs of shock. Signs of low blood pressure and shock include blurry vision; having chills, clammy skin or a really fast heartbeat; feeling confused  dizzy, sleepy or weak; or feeling like you’re going to faint.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) or throwing up
  • Pale skin
  • Swelling and pain around the vagina or perineum. The perineum is the area between the vagina and rectum. 

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