Bleeding after birth is normal
After your baby has been born – regardless of whether you had a normal delivery or a Caesarean section - you'll have vaginal bleeding, much like a period and this will last for a few weeks.
This bleeding is called lochia and is your body’s way of getting rid of the lining of your uterus. It can last anywhere from two to six weeks after delivery (sometimes longer) – hence the need to stock your hospital bag up with maternity pads!
At a glance
- The bleeding you will get after birth is called lochia
- It usually lasts between two and six weeks
- Try not to do too much after birth as it may cause your flow to increase
Why does bleeding after birth occur?
The discharge itself is the blood, cells, mucus and tissues shedding from the womb once your baby has checked out. You will notice the colour of the flow changes over time – starting off bright red, then pinkish-brown, and finally, creamy or off white coloured. It is normal for the discharge to be stringy and mucus-y and not just liquid.
All mums' post-birth bleeding will differ in terms of duration and heaviness, but you should seek advice if you think your flow is particularly full on (if you are needing to change your pad on an hourly basis, for example), or if it is smelly, or you have the symptoms of a fever. You should also let your GP or midwife know if you are passing large (bigger than a 50p) clots, as occasionally, bits of placenta can be retained in the womb – if any placenta has stayed put, you might need minor surgery to remove it.
How to control bleeding after birth
You might find the flow increases if you try to do too much too soon after your baby's birth – another good reason to try and take it easy in those first few weeks!
And remember – only use sanitary towels, never tampons, for post-birth bleeding as there is a risk of infection from using internal protection. Some women find regular towels are just as effective as specific maternity pads, particularly once the flow has eased off after the first few days.
To begin with you may find that you need to change your pad every hour or two and then every few hours in the following days and weeks. The bleeding will begin to ease as your uterus shrinks back down to its pre-birth size.
You may also have a perineum tear after labour, it’s important to ensure that this is kept clean so make sure you’re changing your pad regularly and having a bath or shower at least once a day.
Can bleeding after birth ever be dangerous?
Bleeding after birth is a completely normal part of the process of healing and is usually nothing to worry about. However, you should let your doctor or midwife know if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Passing large (bigger than a 50p) clots, as occasionally, bits of placenta can be retained in the womb – if any placenta has stayed put, you might need minor surgery to remove it.
- If your flow seems particularly heavy (changing your pad on an hourly basis)
- If the lochia has an unpleasant smell
- You have the symptoms of a fever