Post- Partum Bleeding: What Do You Need to Know?
Bleeding after delivering a baby is absolutely normal for every woman no matter what kind of birth you have had.
The technical word for post-partum bleeding is called 'lochia'. Lochia is different than bleeding as part of your menses cycle. It is the uterus shedding the inner lining, mucus, blood, and all of the tissues that are no longer needed to support your baby because they are no longer in the womb!
Immediately after birth, women will typically still feel painful contractions as the uterus sheds which again is completely normal but often unexpected for first time mums. Unfortunately, this can be a more painful experience from the second birth onwards. The pain does however subside, but there will be some additional bleeding as the body continues to naturally work away to remove any unwanted 'debris' left inside your uterus from the birth and this normally persists for some time afterwards.
How Long Will I Bleed For After Birth?
Most women will bleed for anywhere between 10 days to a month post birth.
Some women will bleed up to 6 weeks. This usually happens if there have been complications with your pregnancy or birth, especially if these were related to the health of your placenta.
When Should I Seek Help?
Bleeding at 6 weeks of needs to be checked by your gynaecologist but if you are worried you can always call them earlier than this at the 4 week mark since giving birth if you don't already have an appointment arranged at this time.
You should also contact your gynaecologist if you notice any of the following:
- You are bleeding through 2 or more pads in 1 hour for 2 hours straight
- If you have a fever with bleeding
- If your cramps are really intense and you are in significant pain
- If you are noticing clots that are larger than a golf ball
The Return Of The Menses
Sounds like a Star Wars movie hey?!
For every woman post birth, the return of her menses is different.
You may get it soon after birth or it could be up to a year!
This usually depends on whether or not you are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding releases hormones that prevent ovulation and therefore keep your cycle from happening. If you are not breastfeeding or irregularly breastfeeding, your menses can return 10-20 weeks after giving birth. It should be noted however that you still can get pregnant during this time so it would be unwise, unless you wish to have another child very soon, to use this as a contraceptive method.
Most breastfeeding Mothers will see their menses return 6-8 weeks after they’ve stopped breastfeeding. But again, you may well be waiting for up to a year after breastfeeding for your menses to return.
All of this can be normal depending on your habits with your child, your nerve system’s way of releasing hormones, and based on the way your body is built genetically.
Will My Menses Be The Same As It Was Before?
Many women report changes in their menses after having a child. Here's what you could find changing with yours:
- You may have a more uncomfortable menses with more cramping than previously or possibly less.
- Your menstrual flow could become heavier or lighter.
- You may notice a difference in the colour of the blood.
- You may notice the absence or presence of clots which may be different from before.
- The length of your menses could be longer or shorter than previously.
- You may not have the same cycle length as previously- it could be longer or shorter and you can expect it to be irregular initially for the first 3-6 months also.
The changes you experience in your menses cycle are directly influenced by how quickly your uterus returns to its normal size, the ability of you hormones to be well regulated by your nerve system, emotional stress and whether or not you are breastfeeding.
If you are ever concerned about abnormal bleeding or the changes you are experiencing with the return of your menses make sure to contact your gynaecologist.
Yours in Health,
- Dr Angelika xo