How long does postpartum bleeding last? Learn the normal timeline, how to deal with it, and when to be concerned. Plus, other tips for new moms!
Postpartum recovery can be a difficult time for the first time mom.
You’ll be learning to care for a newborn, dealing with how your body feels after giving birth and managing unpleasant postpartum body changes, like perineal pain and continuous bleeding.
We’ve all seen those super real post-pregnancy photos of women in their mesh panties and diapers. This is exactly the kind of thing you’ll be rocking for those first days and weeks postpartum!
So, how long does postpartum bleeding last?
Here’s everything you need to know about bleeding after birth and how to handle it.
What causes lochia?
Postpartum bleeding (lochia) is normal and natural after birth. Your body has to rid itself of all of the extra tissue (from the lining of the uterus), blood, and mucus that were necessary during pregnancy. This is why bleeding occurs even with a c-section delivery.
Bleeding also occurs as the placenta separates from the uterus, leaving open blood vessels in the area where it was attached. These vessels leech blood into the uterus. After the placenta is birthed, the uterus continues to contract in order to close off those open blood vessels.
Lochia (postpartum bleeding) will lesson and disappear with time as your wounds heal and the blood vessels go back to normal.
How long does postpartum bleeding last?
Bleeding After Vaginal Delivery
The postpartum recovery timeline is a little different for every woman. But, in general, bleeding is heaviest in the first 3-10 days and can last up to 6 weeks. Your vaginal discharge may start out dark in color, but should lighten to a pink or brownish color within a few days and become a yellow or white color by the end of the first week. Postpartum bleeding may also have an odor, similar to your menstrual blood.
You may also experience some blood clots. A normal size for blood clots is between the size of a grape and the size of a prune. Clots should diminish and disappear within the first few days.
Six weeks is around the time your healthcare provider will give you the go-ahead to resume your normal activities like exercise and intercourse.
Up to that point, you’ll need to take it easy and refrain from using tampons and staying away from other things not do after giving birth like swimming, taking deep soaker baths, getting into water with chemicals, soaps, and scents, or water that is untreated.
These activities can all increase your risk of infection. Steer clear and adhere to any other instructions from your doctor.
Bleeding After Cesarean Section
If you had a cesarean section, you’ll likely experience less lochia than with a vaginal birth. But, it’s normal to experience some bleeding for a few weeks. Blood will lessen and become lighter in color over time just as after a vaginal birth.
How can I deal with postpartum bleeding?
It’s no fun experiencing bleeding “down there,” but as women, we’re pretty used to it. However, we don’t usually have to deal with so much bleeding all at once.
Be sure to take as many of the free supplies home from the hospital as you can, especially those mesh panties and ultra maxi sanitary pads. (It’s not safe to use tampons for at least 6 weeks as it can lead to infection).
Before going into labor, you can also purchase some adult diapers to have ready for you when you get home if you decide you don’t like the mesh underwear.
Be sure to keep your supplies right next to the toilet so you can easily switch out the pad whenever you need to go to the bathroom.
You’ll also definitely want to avoid taking too many outings while you heal and deal with the heavy vaginal bleeding!
Be careful around your wounds and stitches and always use clean hands when touching and interacting with these sensitive areas to avoid infection.
When should I be concerned?
Another question to answer along with, how long does postpartum bleeding last, is when should you be concerned. It’s very important to keep an eye on blood loss after birth. If you notice excessive bleeding (bleeding through more than one pad in an hour) or large blood clots (the size of an egg or golf ball), you should seek medical treatment immediately to rule out postpartum hemorrhage.
PPH is rare, but it’s still something to be educated on in case you are one of the 1-5% of women who experience it.
Postpartum hemorrhage typically occurs within the first 24-48 hours of giving birth put can also take place as far out as 12 weeks. The common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is Uterine atony (when uterine contractions fail to stem bleeding from the area where the placenta breaks away from the uterine wall).
Here are some more signs and symptoms to monitor:
- Low blood pressure and signs of shock (lightheadedness, blurred vision, clammy skin, increased heart rate, chills, confusion, dizziness, feeling faint, or fatigue)
- Turning pale
- Swelling and increased pain around the vagina and perineum
- Severe pain
Fever and severe pain can also be signs of infection which requires immediate treatment as well.
Always talk to your doctor if anything doesn’t feel right or you have any concerns whatsoever. Don’t wait to bring problems to their attention, especially when it comes to bleeding. Your healthcare provider will always be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and ensure the safety of you and your child.
Postpartum bleeding can last up to 6 weeks. Every woman is different, but bleeding is typically heaviest in the first 3-10 days. The amount of blood will lessen and the color of the blood should generally lighten over time.
It’s not unusual for postpartum bleeding to change with activity level, to stop and start again, or to be characterized by intermittent spotting or bleeding. The lining of the uterus is in the process of healing, and sometimes that healing does not occur at the same time throughout the entire lining.
You may also experience a change in blood flow when:
– You first wake up in the morning
– During physical activity
– While you breastfeed
If you’re not breastfeeding and experience renewed bleeding around the 2-month mark, it may be your period and not lochia.
Lochia is typically only dark red in the first few days postpartum and is more often light in color and even watery in appearance — very different than typical menstrual blood. If you experience bright dark blood 6 weeks or more after birth, it’s likely the return of your period.
It’s also important to note that breastfeeding can cause irregular periods. And you may not experience a period at all until after your baby is weaned.
As your body heals, you’ll be able to pick up more and more of your normal activities. The bleeding doesn’t last forever!
The good news is, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll likely skip your period until you’re at least 6 months postpartum. Some women even report missing their period until they stop breastfeeding!
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to set a good newborn sleep schedule and establish a new daily routine.
If this post was helpful to you, be sure to check out:
- 3 First Time Mom Books Worth a Read
- Must Have Newborn Items
- Fun Monthly Baby Photo Ideas
- The Ultimate List of Mom Hacks
I hope this post answered all your questions about how long does postpartum bleeding lasts. Let me know if there’s anything I missed or if you need more info in the comments!