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What's the deal with postpartum bleeding?

What's the deal with postpartum bleeding?

When I look back at those first days after my daughter was born, I still can't believe how much I didn't know was coming.

Maybe I was a bit naive about recovery, but really, no one warned me. The specifics of postpartum bleeding ended up being one of those surprising things.

So, what exactly is postpartum bleeding?

The discharge you experience after childbirth is called "lochia" and it's quite similar to your period. Though mostly comprising blood, it's actually a mixture of your uterine line shedding, white blood cells and mucus.

How long will postpartum bleeding last?

That's the million dollar question! While typically lasting around 4-6 weeks after you give birth, like most things, everyone's body will vary and there is a range of normal. Blood will go from dark or bright red, to brown, to yellow over this time.

Will I still bleed if I have a Cesarean birth?

This may surprise some, but yes, you will experience postpartum bleeding after a Cesarean birth too. That said, you will likely bleed less than if you had a vaginal delivery.

How can I stop postpartum bleeding faster?

One of the best things you can do is allow yourself the time and space to recover. Exerting yourself – even something as simple as walking around the block when you're not ready – can sabotage your recovery prolong postpartum bleeding.

Trust me, I've been there. I know it can be really hard to just allow yourself to relax, but it can ultimately fast track your recovery timeline. This article also shares a few more ways you can speed up the process.

When is postpartum bleeding abnormal?

For the first few days your lochia will be mostly blood and bright or deep red in colour – essentially it will be most similar to menstrual blood. It's also totally normal for there to be clots that may even be as large as a kumquat (though we recommend reaching out to your care provider if this is the case).

Overall, these clots should lessen and reduce in size over time. If you notice that clots are getting bigger, or observe an increase in discharge overall, this is a good reason to check in with your health care provider. Another reason to check in is if you notice a foul odour, this could be a sign of infection.

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