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Postpartum Bleeding – What to Expect

Postnatal Care

Vaginal bleeding (known as Lochia) is a normal part of giving birth, whether you have a vaginal birth or a Caesarean section birth. Lochia is made up of tissue, blood and mucous.

The bleeding is due to the placenta detaching from the wall of the uterus (after the birth of baby), where it was held in place by blood vessels that ran between the uterus and placenta. This leaves the blood vessels open, which causes the bleeding, whilst the uterus works hard to clamp them shut post birth and renew the lining of the uterus.

Everyone is different and lochia can last between 2-6 weeks post birth, but will change in both colour and amount throughout this time.

What can you expect?
  • First 24 hours: quiet a heavy loss, changing a maternity pad every few hours. Red in colour. Clots may be present, and are not unusual, but should be discussed with your midwife.
  • Day 2-6: moderate blood loss that decreases in amount over these days, and colour changing from red to pinkish red. May also be brownish red.
  • Days 7-10: amount continues to decrease, but this may vary. Colour May stay the same or become lighter shade of pinkish or brownish red.
  • Small gush of blood when starting a breastfeed, oxytocin causes the uterus to contract which May mean you bleed at the same time your milk starts to flow
  • Days 11-14: colour becoming lighter again and amount continuing to decrease.
  • Week 3-4: if still present, may have changed to a paler or creamy white colour. Very little to no blood.
  • Up until week 6: small or occasional brownish, yellowish loss.
What’s not normal?
  • soaking a pad within the hour
  • passing large blood clots or repeatedly pass smaller clots
  • constant heavy bleeding, soaking through pad and clothes
  • Blood loss becomes heavier then it initially was or heavy to moderate blood loss that last more then a week
  • blood loss develops an unpleasant smell, despite showering.
  • if you feel unwell, have a high temp, feel breathless or faint
  • Remember to ask for assistance if concerned.

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