We’ve all read the hospital bag checklists and know to pack a few packs maternity pads in our hospital bags and some extra large knickers, but many women are taken by complete surprise at just how much they bleed after the birth and for how long.
Lets take a look at the facts and help you understand what’s normal, what’s not and how to properly manage your postpartum symptoms.
You may be thinking that once your beautiful baby arrives, all those wonderful side effects you’ve been enduring throughout your pregnancy will all disappear and you’ll happily go about returning to “normal” life.
But that’s not the case for most women. Postpartum comes with a range of symptoms including post birth vaginal bleeding and this included Mums who have had a cesarean section.
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM BLEEDING?
Also known as Lochia, vaginal bleeding after the birth of a baby is the heavy flow of blood and mucus that begins as soon as the baby is delivered and can continue for up to 10 days post birth.
Although it varies from women to women, this heavy bleeding usually then tapers off and turns into a light bleed or spotting which can last for around 4-6 weeks.
WHAT CAUSES THE BLEEDING?
It’s important to note that postpartum bleeding will occur regardless of vaginal or c-section delivery. This is because the body is cleansing itself from all the extra tissue and blood it had stored up to nourish and support your baby throughout pregnancy.
Lochia is very similar to your regular period only much heavier and will last for a lot longer. Its also made up of some extra components from your uterus like mucus and tissue which you wouldn’t find in your normal menstrual period.
HOW WILL IT FEEL?
The first 10 days after the birth will be the heaviest you’re likely to experience. As your bleeding starts to taper off, you should notice a change in the colour of the blood too. From a bright red to pink then brown and finally a yellowish white, similar to normal cervical mucus.
The flow of lochia should stop around 4-6 weeks after the birth, however this can be sooner or later depending on the woman. Remember we are all different and every pregnancy you have will be different, including postpartum bleeding.
HOW CAN I MANAGE IT?
Although there is nothing you can do to stop the flow of lochia after birth (nor do you really want to as this is a vital part of cleansing your body after pregnancy), there are a few things you can do to help minimise the impact on your daily life including;
- NEVER USE TAMPONS – For the first 6 weeks only use pads, preferably maternity pads which are thick and much more absorbent and able to hold more fluid. Tampons can introduce bacteria into your uterus which is still trying to recover from the trauma of birth.
- GO EASY ON ACTIVITY – Trying to do too much too soon can actually cause the body to start bleeding more, undoing all the repair its working hard to do.
- BEFRIEND YOUR NANNA KNICKERS– These babies will be your best comfort when wearing thick maternity pads, plus they ensure pads stay in place and any leakages kept at bay. If you’ve had a c-section, high waisted underwear is best, as regular knickers will rub on your incision.
CAN THERE BE TOO MUCH BLOOD?
If you find you are soaking a maternity pad every hour or notice very large blot clots give your healthcare provider a call. During the first few days in hospital your midwives will ask to check your pad periodically and ask to see the pad to help determine if there is any complications or concerns.
If you notice a strong offensive odour this could be a sign of infection. Normal postpartum bleeding will smell the same as your menstrual period, so contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any change.
HOW CAN HELP MY BODY RECOVER POST BIRTH?
Your body goes through a lot of trauma throughout pregnancy and childbirth. While its easy to focus on the needs of your new baby, its also really important to remember your own body needs some TLC and respect after birth.
MaterniTeas naturopaths have developed a post birth recovery blend – SERENDIPITEA which uses ingredients traditionally used to help decrease postpartum bleeding, regulate hormones and nourish the body with important vitamins and minerals required for healing and restoring the reproductive organs.
Available in beautiful pyramid tea bags, they are perfect for packing in your hospital bag and enjoying a cup of nourishing postpartum TLC while you soak in all that new born love with your bub.