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Bleeding After Birth

Bleeding After Birth

  • Bleeding vaginally is how your uterus will recover from pregnancy and birth.
  • You'll find that the blood caught in your pads will change as the days go on.
  • However, bleeding can also be a warning sign after birth so its important to know the difference!
Bleeding After Birth

While you may be ready to get back to your old self after delivering your baby, it is important to take it easy and let your body recover. One thing you will notice after birth is vaginal bleeding. There is normal bleeding and then there is life threatening bleeding. Pickles & Ice Cream® is here to make sure you know the difference!


Bleeding to Expect

Postpartum bleeding is called lochia and looks and smells similar to blood shed during a period. It’s your body’s way of shedding all the built up uterine lining and extra blood that helped keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. It is made up of blood, uterine lining, mucus and white blood cells. Whether you delivered your baby vaginally or by C-section, you will have postpartum bleeding.

Most new moms and birthgivers bleed for about 4 – 6 weeks after delivery. But don’t worry – it lessens over that time!


Phases of Blood

The first few days will be mostly bright or dark red blood and heavy. You will need to wear a hospital or postpartum pad, which is thicker than a normal menstrual pad. You will be encouraged to do gentle movements to ease the blood flow in your body. Usually, nurses will give you additional pads when you are discharged from the hospital or birthing center. You might have a few blood clots but they shouldn’t be bigger than the size of a prune.

After about 4-7 days, the discharge will change to a pink or brown color and the flow will be lighter. Clots should start to disappear. You can switch to a regular menstrual pad.

After 1 – 2 weeks, bleeding should lessen and the discharge will be white or yellow and made up of mostly mucus. If your flow is light, you can switch to a panty liner.

While people who deliver by C-section will have some postpartum bleeding, they are likely to have less of it than people who deliver vaginally because the uterus gets cleaned out during surgery. Although, lochia is a lot like a period, you should NOT use tampons or menstrual cups until your provider says it’s safe to do so. You also should remember to change your pad or liner often to prevent infection.


When Bleeding Changes

You may see an increase in bleeding after doing certain activities like:

  • Standing up after lying down or sitting for a long period of time, like getting up in the morning.
  • Breastfeeding your baby. The hormone oxytocin is produced during nursing sessions and can cause your uterus to contract.
  • Exercising or being physically active.
  • Straining while using the bathroom.

If you notice a temporary increase in bleeding after doing any of these activities, you do not need to call your provider. This is typical, but call them if you feel you need to lessen your worries.


When Bleeding Becomes a Problem

While it is very rare, postpartum hemorrhage can happen.9 This is when a mom has very heavy bleeding after birth and loses too much blood. It usually happens within the first 24 hours after giving birth but can occasionally happen over the next several weeks. It is important to recognize the post-birth warning signs.

You should call your provider immediately if you have:

  • Bleeding that is heavy enough to soak a hospital pad in less than an hour or doesn’t lessen after a few days
  • Clots larger than a golf ball after 24 hours
  • Blood that remains bright red and heavy during the second week after delivery
  • Signs of infection like foul-smelling discharge
  • A fever of 100.4°F or 38°C
  • Irregular or racing heartbeat
  • Chills
  • Tenderness in one or both sides of your abdomen
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea

It may be nothing to worry about, but it is always best to check with your provider.

Postpartum bleeding is not fun but remember it is temporary and completely normal. Take it easy and give your body time to recover – it’s been working so hard for the last 9 months!

You can learn about this topic and more at our online postpartum classes. Check out the next class date and registration on our events page.


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