FAQ: Vaginal Postpartum Bleeding (Lochia)

The birth of a baby can be a thrilling and happy event for new moms. But life after childbirth involves navigating the unknowns as well as the joys, especially for first-time moms. The normal postpartum bleeding, a discharge called lochia, may be one of those experiences you didn’t anticipate. Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about lochia here.

What Is Postpartum Bleeding?

Postpartum bleeding usually refers to the vaginal discharge that appears after giving birth whether you give birth vaginally or via a cesarean section. The discharge, known as lochia, consists of blood and placental tissue. Basically, your uterus is shedding the mucosal membrane that lined it during your pregnancy.

Contact your healthcare provider if you suspect your bleeding may be something other than lochia.

Is Postpartum Bleeding Normal?

Postpartum bleeding is normal during the postpartum period. It's also normal to see some small blood clots that are about the size of a plum during this time.

However, if you have heavy bleeding—that is, you soak through two sanitary pads in under an hour—and particularly if you also have pelvic pain, a fever, or tenderness, then contact your healthcare provider, as the bleeding you are experiencing may be caused by something other than the normal postpartum shedding of the uterine lining.

How Different Is Postpartum Bleeding After a Cesarean Delivery?

Postpartum vaginal bleeding after a cesarean delivery is generally not different, except that the bleeding may be lighter.

What Should You Do If You Are Bleeding?

When experiencing postpartum bleeding, you should wear a sanitary pad and avoid tampons. Healthcare providers recommend that nothing be inserted into your vagina for at least six weeks after you've given birth.

How Long Does Postpartum Bleeding (Lochia) Last?

Postpartum bleeding is different for every woman. For some moms it can last for a couple of weeks, and for others up to a month or longer. Generally, postpartum bleeding stops after about four to six weeks.

Can Lochia Stop After a Week?

Not necessarily. Postpartum bleeding (lochia) is different for everyone: For some women lochia stops after a couple of weeks after the birth of their babies, and for other women, the bleeding may last longer than a month.

Can Postpartum Bleeding Stop and Start Again?

Although there may be times when you notice more or less discharge, lochia itself doesn't usually stop altogether only to start up again. Sometimes, the bright red discharge that you had in the first few days after you gave birth may also return.

The flow of vaginal discharge may increase:

  • In the morning after you wake up
  • During physical activity, like postpartum exercises
  • While you're breastfeeding.

Should You Still Be Bleeding Two, Three, or Four Weeks Postpartum?

Yes. It's common for postpartum bleeding (lochia) to last for at least a couple of weeks if not longer than a month. It's different for every woman. Postpartum bleeding typically stops after four to six weeks.

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