Vaginal postpartum bleeding is also known as lochia. This is the heavy flow of blood and mucus that starts after you deliver your baby. Whether or not you're in recovery of your C- your body is ridding itself of the blood and tissue it needed to nourish and support your baby during pregnancy.
The sudden, large amounts of blood loss after childbirth can vary between women and will most likely be very different to any period you have experienced before.
What causes post-partum bleeding?
Shortly after your baby is delivered, your uterus will normally contract and push the placenta out. These post-birth contractions apply additional pressure on the bleeding vessels where the placenta was attached and it is when the contractions are not strong enough that the blood vessels will later bleed freely and cause postpartum bleeding.
It is also common that some parts of the placenta will stay attached, in which case the placenta may present itself in the form of blood clots. Any tears in the cervix or tissues of the vagina may also cause additional postpartum bleeding.
What is the difference between a period and lochia?
Lochia is just like your period, but only heavier and very ofter longer-lasting. Where a period lasts for around a week, your postpartum bleeding may last for up to 6 weeks. Initially blood may be bright red and will soon fade to pink or brown after a few days.
You may also find that lochia has some components that you won't find in your monthly periods like mucus and tissue from your uterus, mostly from where the placenta was attached. The amniotic fluid (your waters), your baby’s urine, skin cells and hair are also leaving your body during this time. This is natural and usually nothing to worry about.
How long does postpartum bleeding last for?
Heavy bleeding generally can last for up to 10 days after giving birth but you may continue bleeding for a total of around 6 weeks.
After the initial bright red blood, with some clots (always no bigger than a penny), your bleeding should slow down and become light with some spotting.
You may find that the more you are on your feet and the more you move, the heavier your post-partum bleeding will be, so it’s important to rest and practice self-care during this time as much as you can.
What products are best for postpartum bleeding?
For the first six weeks, it’s best that you stay away from tampons as they can increase your chance of infection to your still recovering uterus and genital tract. It’s best that you stick to pads or periods pants.
Our WUKA Midi Brief in Heavy flow are particularly useful and comfortable to use and many of our customers have had great experience of using them after birth. You may also like our WUKA High Waist, as the pants will gently hug your tummy which may be bloated and swollen after giving birth.
It is common for postpartum bleeding to stop and start again or to be characterised by intermittent spotting or bleeding and it's best to invest in at least 3 pairs of WUKA pants, one to wear, one to wash and one to have spare.