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Postpartum Bleeding: Understanding Lochia In 5 Questions

After pregnancy, it can be a process to adjust to the changes in our body. One postpartum experience that can seem scary at first is lochia or postpartum bleeding. Understanding this before facing it can bring you peace of mind before it ever occurs. 

Answering Your Questions About Lochia 

Lochia is a common occurrence for women after their pregnancy. While it does seem like a scary experience, it is entirely normal for women to encounter it. It is never the wrong time to contact one of our midwives if you have more questions regarding lochia.

1. What is lochia?

The Cleveland Clinic defines lochia as “The vaginal discharge you have after a vaginal delivery. It has a stale, musty odor like menstrual discharge. Lochia for the first three days after delivery is dark red.” The color changes as time goes on to a lighter pink until it fully ends. 

Lochia is a combination of blood, tissue from the uterine lining, and bacteria. It can also look different inflow depending on the amount of time postpartum you are. From heavy to light, even laying down versus standing up can affect what level of flow you experience.  

2. Is lochia something everyone experiences postpartum?

While it does happen to most women postpartum, those who had a cesarean section tend to see less lochia after 24 hours than women who delivered vaginally.

Understanding how everyone could experience lochia postpartum is easier when you learn how it is caused. Babycenter explains the cause of lochia as, “When the placenta separates from the uterus, there are open blood vessels in the area where it was attached, and they begin to bleed into the uterus. After the placenta is delivered, the uterus continues to contract, which closes off those blood vessels, dramatically reducing the bleeding.” 

3. How long does lochia last?

Lochia’s length of time depends on the woman. Those who had a cesarean section will see less bleeding after that 24-hour mark. However, overall it can last four to six weeks after delivery. 

This length of time will see a change in the substance’s color as it goes from a dark red to pink. It will eventually even be clear and white. As time passes, the color continues to change. 

If you experience a longer time than this, it could be a good reason to contact your midwife and see if something more is going on. If that is the case, you will handle whatever it is before anything more happens.

4. How do you manage the bleeding? 

It is best to wear pads, not tampons, during this time to manage the bleeding. The pad’s size can change as the level of bleeding decreases. This is due to comfort and that nothing should enter the vagina for six weeks after the pregnancy. 

Managing it also comes with frequent urination. The bladder could feel less sensitive postpartum, making you feel like you do not have to urinate as often. However, the full bladder can leave the uterus to have problems contracting. This can lead to heavier bleeding. With this being the case, make sure you make frequent trips to the bathroom, even when you do not necessarily feel like you have to go.  

5. When should I contact my doctor about my postpartum bleeding?  

Lochia is a normal part of the postpartum process, but as with any medical situation, your healthcare professional is there to answer anything you may wonder. If your postpartum bleeding gets worse after it has gotten better, this could be the time to contact your midwife at City of Oaks Midwifery.

Heavy bleeding could signify late postpartum hemorrhage that requires immediate attention. If this gets worse or you start to feel faint, call 911. 

Lochia, postpartum bleeding, can be unnerving when you have never experienced it before. Here, we aim to provide you with an understanding of it before it occurs. In that case, you can feel confident about what will happen to go into it and know when to seek help if needed. Do you have questions regarding postpartum bleeding? Check out our website or contact us at (919) 646-6252. 

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