One of the most important things you need to know about postpartum recovery is the truth about bleeding after childbirth. Here is everything you need to know that no one wants to talk about because it’s not the best topic of conversation.
Lots of things happen to your body after giving birth like your breasts swelling up even more, your uterus starts contracting so that it can shrink, you will be in a ton of pain down there if you gave birth vaginally or even a c section. To read more on postpartum recovery here is an article you may want to check out Postpartum Recovery Timeline| What to Expect.
Let’s go back to the truth about postpartum bleeding and what you need to know, in this article you will find out how long it lasts, if you can stop postpartum bleeding, and what the four most common causes of postpartum hemorrhage are along with a ton of tips and pointers on how to deal with it.
Bleeding After Birth, What to Expect
Once you have your sweet little peanut and are in baby heaven you will be experiencing some very unpleasant things from your vagina, a lot of this is a TMI but as a new mom, you need to know this stuff because no one really wants to talk to you about it.
There will be blood and lots of it, I will not sugar coat this for you in any way momma you need to be ready for this because it is the most frustrating part of having a baby as if you needed more things to deal with right!
How Long is it Normal to Bleed
This is a very common question and the length depends on your body along with whether or not you are breastfeeding, most women will bleed for four, six or eight weeks. Say what!! Yes, I did say four to six or eight weeks, so about two months straight unless you are one of the lucky ones and it stops at four weeks.
I’m sorry to tell you that this is how it goes and men are so lucky they don’t give birth because I don’t think they could handle bleeding for that long :). Let’s get down to the facts here and see if there is a way to not bleed for this long, keep reading to find out.
Why does the bleeding occur? The reason you bleed after giving birth is due to the lining in the uterus is so thick during pregnancy that it sloughs off after baby and the placenta is removed. A reason that you may bleed a bit longer is having a few pieces of the placenta left on your uterine wall causing you to bleed more another reason which is rare according to parents.com a piece of placenta remains and continues to grow causing you to bleed well past the normal length of time, this condition has to be treated by a doctor.
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Postpartum Bleeding Stages
The bloody discharge you get after giving birth is called Lochia but it’s pretty much like a very heavy period, you will be changing your pad every two hours and it’s going to be super uncomfortable for the first ten days. This is when bleeding is the heaviest, your body is cleaning out the leftover blood, tissue, and mucus from where the placenta was attached to the wall for the last nine months.
After ten days the bleeding should slow down and change in color from red to a pink color and eventually start to taper down to a brown and then a yellowish white in the last week. Unfortunately during the first six weeks, you cannot use a tampon due to the introduction of bacteria into your uterus, big thick pads will have to be used until it dies down (I do mean thick like the ones they give you at the hospital ) or you can try these ones that I used Always Ultra Thin Overnight Pads.
You may feel like your body is getting back at you for not having a period for those nine months but all of this is completely normal.
Your postpartum bleeding comes in three stages, keep reading to understand what each stage is and how long it should last.
Your uterus will begin contracting to seal off the blood vessels where the placenta was attached and also to shrink your uterus back to its original size. The blood will be bright red at this time and on the heavy side.
Don’t be alarmed when you see clumps of blood in your pad, this is normal and will happen during this first stage. You will also have major cramping that will be painful at times, this will pass after about seven days. Be ready to change your pad every hour to avoid an accident or invest in some period underwear ( I recommend getting these, they work great ) to keep your clothes and bedding from getting stained.
If you do experience excessive heavy bleeding or it lasts for more then two weeks or you are passing large blood clots call your doctor, abnormal bleeding after delivery could be a sign of the placenta still being attached and could result in a medical emergency due to hemorrhage and infection.
In this stage the blood will be a pink color or brownish and is thinner than the first stage of bleeding, your uterus is still healing the area where the placenta was attached and will do so for two weeks and for some women it can last up to four or six.
When doing any kind of physical activity you will notice that you tend to bleed more so try to take it easy, don’t lift heavy items or do a lot of strenuous activity. Enjoy your baby and have someone help you get things done around the house.
You may notice laughing or coughing will cause you to bleed more as well, it’s an unfortunate side effect of postpartum bleeding. It’s very frustrating and gross to deal with for the first four or five weeks, just take it easy and understand that this will pass, I promise momma.
If you do physical activity and notice that you are bleeding heavily for more then a day or two, call your doctor right away to be on the safe side. Also if your bleeding goes past the six weeks and doesn’t turn white or yellowish it could be a sign of something called gestational trophoblastic disease and should be looked at by your doctor to make sure everything is okay.
Last Stage of Bleeding After Childbirth
In this stage, you will see a yellowish or even a white discharge that happens when the uterus is reconstructing the place where the placenta was attached. This typically shows up after four to six weeks but can show up sooner depending on your body and how it is healing.
This discharge is made up of fewer red blood cells and mostly, cells, cholesterol, fat, mucus and microorganisms which your body is cleaning out in order to heal properly.
If this stage continues on for more then a week or two you should talk to your doctor because it could be a sign of a genital lesion and should be evaluated.
What Causes Hemorrhaging
There are several factors that can cause postpartum hemorrhaging that you should be aware of not to scare you but to educate you on the signs to look out for just in case.
Here are the signs to look for during your postpartum period, if you feel dizzy when standing, increased heart rate or have a fever and chills these are signs something is wrong and you need to call your doctor right away.
If you experience any of these signs increased breathing rate, soaking a pad in less then an hour or completely drenching it in an hour, and feeling cold after blood loss are all signs that you need medical attention.
The four main causes for hemorrhaging after childbirth according to Wikipedia are the following poor contraction of the uterus after childbirth, not all of the placenta getting delivered, a tear in the uterus, and poor blood clotting.
How to Stop Postpartum Bleeding Faster
Is there a way to make your body stop bleeding and heal faster? Yes, there is by following a few simple guidelines as long as you haven’t had any complications during or right after birth you can heal much faster.
Here are some main tips to follow that will help you heal faster postpartum then you would otherwise, they are pretty basic things but not everyone follows these and complications can happen to slow down the whole process.
- Healthy Diet – by eating a healthy well-balanced diet your body will get the nutrients it needs to heal faster along with taking a prenatal vitamin.
- No Sex – it’s a bad idea to have sex before the six-week mark and after getting the okay by your doctor, it introduces bacteria into the uterus that can cause infection.
- Breastfeeding – will speed up the process of healing and help your uterus contract back to its normal size along with reducing bleeding.
- Iron – make sure you get enough iron during postpartum bleeding so that you don’t get anemic or cause hemorrhaging.
- Blood Thinners – pain medications such as ibuprofen can cause your blood to thin out and make you bleed heavier for longer.
Final Thoughts on Bleeding After Birth
Bleeding after giving birth is just a gross subject that no women want to remember or bring up in conversation especially to a pregnant friend. I hope you found this article to be helpful in what you need to expect when you are bleeding after childbirth.
For more on what you need for a better postpartum recovery, this article on Postpartum Recovery Essentials Every New Mama Needs may be something you would be interested in reading.
You should expect to bleed a lot at first for a few weeks and then it will be just a bit lighter but still just as annoying, my own experience of this was terrible not to scare you but I bled for the full six weeks!
I wasn’t that lucky women that it stopped being heavy after two and was over by four weeks, nope mine literally went on forever and I sat in the bathtub and balled my eyes out because I just wanted it to stop. I didn’t know a person could bleed so much without dying until I had babies and boy was I wrong.
It is terrible for every mom and believe me you will survive this, it does go away eventually. I didn’t know a person could bleed so much without dying until I had babies and boy was I wrong. The best advice I have for you as a mom is to prepare your postpartum stuff and have it ready to go a month beforehand, prepare to see lots of blood and have really bad cramps for a few weeks.
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