You’re a mother! It must feel so exciting, and yet you must be feeling so tired. That is quite justified; after all, your body has gone through a lot during the past nine months. And it will take some time to get back to normal. It has to get rid of all the weight you’ve gained during that time plus the extra blood and other fluids. Post pregnancy/postpartum bleeding, also known as Lochia, is your body’s way of getting rid of all that extra blood, mucus and other fluids that it gathered to keep ensure healthy growth of the unborn baby.
Lochia is very normal among women who’ve just delivered (through cesarean or otherwise) and gets over within the first six weeks post-delivery (the period technically known as ‘puerperum’). In many cases the bleeding gets over within the first three weeks or so, but there are some cases where it lasts for up to six weeks. Similar to menstrual discharge, except that it (Lochia) is heavier, it usually begins during the hours immediately following delivery. This discharge is characterised by bright red colour for the first 5 to 10 days, changing to pink after that, and ultimately changing to yellowish-white. The flow can come in gushes, or it can be even, and may also contain small blood clots.
One may be used to 3-4 days of discharge, but when it lasts for weeks, it can get annoying. Here are some suggestions to make things easier: use heavy duty sanitary pads that can soak more blood; do not use tampons for the six-week postpartum period as they can lead to infection; and rest as much as possible, excess walking tends to increase the flow.
Although post-pregnancy bleeding is very normal, there are times when it can have underlying consequences with regards to health. Some situations where it would be wise t consult a doctor are: if your discharge smells bad; if the bright red discharge continues more than days post delivery; if you’re experiencing flow that is way too heavy (the kind that takes less than an hour to soak a maxi pad); or if you’re shivering or having fever.
The most sever kind of postpartum bleeding is when you’ve lost more than 500 ml (in case of a normal delivery) or 1000ml (in case of a cesarean). It is known as postpartum haemorrhaging. It is a very dangerous condition that can lead to heavy blood loss and even death. There is an increased risk for postpartum haemorrhaging if you’ve given birth to a large baby, or more than one baby. Since it is a very serious condition, patients are hospitalised and the treatment given includes uterine massages that stimulate contraction of the uterus (the uterus not contracting is one of the main causes), removal of excess placenta that fails to pass during delivery, blood transfusion if the blood loss is critical, and hysterectomy if the uterus is damaged.