Postpartum bleeding is the bleeding experienced after childbirth. Such bleeding mainly occurs to expel the excess blood and the placenta from the body. Know the various aspects of the hemorrhage or bleeding after childbirth, like how long it lasts, and as how to deal with it, by reading this HerHaleness article.
Postpartum bleeding is vaginal bleeding experienced after childbirth. It primarily occurs for expelling excess blood, the placental tissues, and mucus from the body. A woman can lose about 500 to 1000 ml of blood after delivery, depending on whether the delivery is vaginal or cesarean.
In case of a vaginal delivery, a woman can lose up to 500 ml of blood. But in a cesarean section, bleeding can result in the loss of about 1000 ml of blood. If the amount of blood lost exceeds these two values, then it is termed as postpartum hemorrhage, which is a serious condition that can prove fatal at times.
As mentioned already, postpartum bleeding is the natural process of eliminating excess blood and placental tissues from the body. After childbirth, the placenta gets separated from the uterus, which leaves open blood vessels in the area that continue to bleed for a few days. The bleeding experienced during this period is also termed as lochia. A few days after childbirth, the bleeding stops but the uterus continues to contract in order to expel the placenta. Once the placenta is expelled, such uterine contractions causes the blood vessels of the area to close off.
The bleeding after childbirth or lochia can continue for two to six weeks. The bleeding is usually heavier than the normal menstrual bleeding for the first few days. It then gradually reduces within a few days. The postpartum vaginal discharge or bleeding is usually bright red in color in the early days. It can be accompanied by the discharge of some small blood clots. After a week or two, the discharge becomes pale, and then eventually one can observe only yellowish-white vaginal discharge.
But if for some reasons, the uterus fails to contract, then bleeding can continue which can result in postpartum hemorrhage. Sometimes, postpartum hemorrhage can also occur if a part of the placenta is left in the body. Similarly, if the amniotic sac remains in the uterus, or if the uterus fails to expel it, this can also cause the bleeding to last longer. Other possible causes include, infections, early detachment of the placenta, prolonged labor, tear in the vaginal tissues, multiple pregnancies, the delivery of a large baby, and trauma to the uterus, cervix, or vagina during childbirth. A blood clotting disorder can also cause heavy bleeding after childbirth that can last longer than usual.
Abnormal Bleeding after Childbirth
The term abnormal postpartum bleeding refers to profuse bleeding anywhere between 24 hours to 12 weeks after childbirth. Usually, lochia appears bright red for about four days, after which it becomes pale and the bleeding also reduces gradually. But if a woman observes that her bleeding is getting heavier with each passing day, and lochia is bright red even four days after the delivery, then it may not be normal.
Sometimes, the bleeding can be so heavy that it can saturate a sanitary pad just within an hour. Additionally, such abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge can be accompanied by a foul smell. Though it is normal to find some small blood clots, those exceeding the size of a golf ball are considered abnormal. It can be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage, which calls for immediate medical attention.
Dealing with Lochia
No doubt, bleeding after childbirth can be a troubling experience for women. However, normal bleeding after delivery can be managed with sufficient rest and a healthy diet. Rest is one of the most important factors that can help a woman recover from the stress and trauma, that she goes through during the entire period of pregnancy and childbirth.
A nutritious diet can also help improve your health, along with your physical and mental well-being. After delivery, the sensitivity of the urinary bladder reduces, for which you may not feel the urge to urinate even when the bladder is full. So, you need to urinate often, otherwise urinary problems can develop if your bladder remains full for a long time. As you will be experiencing heavier bleeding than your normal menstrual bleeding, you will need those heavy-duty maxi pads, which are provided by the hospital. But, avoid tampons during this period, as they may increase the risk of infections.
During the postpartum period, it is very important for a mother to drink plenty of water, take nutritional and vitamin supplements prescribed by her health care provider, and avoid taking unnecessary mental stress about the bleeding. Stay calm and this will help you cope with the bleeding more effectively. But if you observe any of the signs of postpartum hemorrhage, and feel that your bleeding is unusually heavy, then inform your physician at the earliest. Postpartum hemorrhage may require immediate hospitalization, and the administration of medications in order to induce the uterus to contract effectively.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.