Having a baby brings joy and excitement, but it is also a time of adjustment and healing for mothers. After giving birth, a women’s body will go through the natural process of hormonal and physical changes. Throughout the entire postpartum process, there will be some bleeding. However, it is important to know how much bleeding is normal, how long it should last, and how to best handle this part of postpartum life.
How Do I Know If My Postpartum Bleeding is Normal?
Women will experience a period-like discharge called lochia following birth. Lochia consists of the mucous membrane that lines the uterus during pregnancy, as well as white and red blood cells that are shedding. Women will experience this bleeding following both vaginal birth and after cesarean delivery.
It is normal for this bleeding process to last around six weeks following delivery. It should never exceed a normal period and should gradually taper off in the weeks following delivery. To keep clean and contain this bleeding, women should wear pads, not tampons or menstrual cups, as these devices may introduce bacteria into the genital tract and uterus as they heal.
During the first few days following delivery, women may experience reddish-brown lochia with possible small blood clots, which is normal. The next stage of bleeding occurs when this reddish-brown bleeding changes to a watery consistency that is either pink or brown in color. This stage will last for 2-3 weeks. Following this stage, the color will turn to a whitish, pale shade. This is because the majority of the red blood cells have been passed through the bleeding by the end of the third week. Some women may notice increased lochia when they are exercising, when they wake up in the morning, or while breastfeeding.
Signs That Your Bleeding is Abnormal
There are some signs and symptoms of abnormal postpartum bleeding that you should be aware of. If you are experiencing any of the following, be sure to contact your OB-GYN.
- Abnormally large, golf-ball-sized blood clots.
- Excessive bleeding that saturates a pad in less than one hour.
- Severe cramping.
- Nausea and dizziness.
- Foul-smelling bleeding or discharge.
- Chills or fever.
- Increased heart rate.
- Weakness or blurry vision.
Should I Worry About Postpartum Hemorrhage?
A hemorrhage after birth is excessive bleeding and is usually the result of the uterus’ failure to contract adequately. It may also occur due to retained placenta, lacerations, an abnormally adherent placenta, or other rare reasons. Most cases of postpartum hemorrhage occur during or soon after delivery. However, in some rare cases, it may occur after returning home. Some causes of this delayed hemorrhage may include bleeding disorders, retained placenta, placental problems, or infection. Women who undergo C-sections have a slightly higher risk for postpartum hemorrhage, as do women with preeclampsia or twin pregnancies.
Give Us a Call Today
If you notice any of the signs of abnormal bleeding mentioned above, seek medical attention as soon as possible. By alerting your physician when things appear abnormal, you can prevent undue stress and adequately protect your health. For more information regarding postpartum bleeding, contact Carnegie Women’s Health today to speak with one of our skilled OB-GYNs.