Postpartum Bleeding: What to Expect
Regardless of whether you had a cesarean section or vaginal delivery, vaginal discharge and bleeding are to be expected following your delivery. Lochia, how your body rids itself of the uterine blood and tissue during child development, is a natural process. Here’s what you can expect after giving birth.
What is Normal?
Blood colour will be some variation of bright red. Don’t be surprised if you see clots, typically these are present the first days after birth and should be the size of a quarter at their largest. You’ll likely receive a hospital grade pad for your travel home and should resort to a regular pad afterwards.
Because of the way the vagina is shaped, it is not unusual to feel a flush of blood upon standing, as due to the shape, it can become a reservoir for flowing blood.
Really, blood flow should decrease after 10 days. Once the heavy blood flow ends, bleeding transitions into light bleeding or spotting. In all, the bleeding and shedding period should only last 6 weeks following delivery. Tampons are a don’t as they can lead to infection. Sanitary pads are really the only thing acceptable at this time.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Hemorrhaging postpartum is a serious concern. This heavy bleeding after birth affects up to 5% of women and is most likely to occur within the first 24 hours.
Hemorrhaging is serious with the ability to drop your blood pressure significantly, capable of causing organ failure. This shock to your system can be fatal, which is why medical attention in a timely manner is essential.
To be safe, there are certain symptoms that should be reported right away:
- Faint feeling
- Blurred vision
- Blood clots bigger than your thumb
- Bright red blood past the third day post delivery
- Rapid heartbeat
- Bleeding that soaks more than one sanitary pad per hour with no signs of stopping
Why is This Happening?
There are elements that can induce hemorrhaging, for example predisposition.
Of the causes, a condition known as uterine atony is known to be most common. In normal circumstances, the uterus contracts after delivery to stop bleeding where the placenta was. With uterine atony, contraction of the uterus isn’t what it should be, a cause of heavy bleeding. Giving birth to multiples, having a heavier baby and long labor may increase chances of this condition.
Also, the below conditions can increase risk for postpartum hemorrhage:
- Cesarian section
- Uterine rupture
- Issues affecting the placenta
What Can I Do For Treatment?
Fortunately there are many treatments for postpartum hemorrhaging.
Doctors may treat this condition by:
- Giving medicine to encourage contraction of the uterus
- Massage the uterus
- Administer a blood transfusion
- Deliver a shot of medicine to stop bleeding
- Perform a hysterectomy, a surgical removal of the uterus
- A radiologist may perform a uterine artery procedure limiting blood flow to the uterus
- Perform a laparotomy, a surgery to open the abdomen and determine the cause of the bleeding and stop it
Postpartum bleeding is a natural occurrence, but there are some not so natural side effects that can occur. It is important to be informed on the health complications that can follow. If you ever feel that your body’s reaction to postpartum bleeding is other than average, always contact a health professional.
You Might Also Like: 10 Pregnancy Myths Debunked