Dr. Matthew KNorton is a Chiropractor practicing in New York, NY. Dr. KNorton specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system, while improving each patients functionality and quality of life. Conditions treated include sciatica, neck pain, and arthritis pain,... more
A woman’s body is a unique creation. It is extremely adjustable to different conditions and is able to quickly recover. For example, what stress pregnancy and labor put on the entire body! Still, a woman’s body recovers even after this and is ready to go through it again multiple times! Isn’t that amazing?
A couple of months – and a woman’s body comes back to its usual shape following labor. She may gain a little weight, but we are also speaking about her organs, including uterus, that reduce in size and weight. The uterus was the most hard-working soldier in this entire process. It grew the baby and was injured painfully while the placenta came out.
As it happens, multiple blood vessels in the uterus get damaged. This is where the postpartum bleedings, or lochia, come from. It is quite a normal state following labor, and you shouldn’t be scared of it – this is how your body recovers.
How Does It Look Like?
After labor, the blood will have a bright red color because it contains a lot of erythrocytes. You can see the cervical mucus, blood clots and remnants of the placenta in the discharge. However, it will not look like this all the time.
In a week after labor, lochia changes their structure. They become tenacious, contain fewer blood clots and their color changes from red to brown. These are good signs meaning a successful recovery of the uterus and its internal layers.
With each week, they become lighter and more solid. The amount also gets smaller each week. They normally stop on the 40-42nd day after labor. In the end, they become either completely transparent or with a yellow shade.
In the first couple of days after labor, the amount of lochia is significant. It can reach 400 ml a day. If the amount of blood is too small or too big, this may be a sign of some problem and requires immediate doctor’s consultation.
What is Considered Abnormal in Postpartum Bleedings?
Heavy lochia is a symptom of abnormal uterine bleeding. Poor discharge may mean that blood for some reason has no way to come out and gathers inside the uterine cavity. This problem is especially real for women who gave birth with the help of C-section. It is dangerous because it comes with the risk of developing inflammation.
In addition, the duration of postpartum bleeding depends on a woman’s individual conditions. These are the factors influencing lochia’s duration:
- The ability of blood clotting in each woman.
- Weight and size of the fetus (or several). The bigger it is, the more time it will take for the uterus to recover.
- The number of previous labors. After the first labor, lochia lasts longer that after the next one.
- Presence of inflammatory processes, chronic or infectious diseases in a woman.
- Breastfeeding mothers get rid of lochia faster because lactation makes the uterus constrict more.
Symptoms of Abnormal Postpartum Bleeding
- The color of lochia remains bright red longer than the first-week after labor. Normally, it must change into a brown color; if it doesn’t happen this means a woman has blood clotting issues.
- The amount of lochia in the first period is very small. This is a symptom of their stagnation inside the uterus.
- The discharge smells bad, the lower part of the abdomen hurts and there is a fever and weakness. These are signs of an inflammatory process.
- Lochia stopped earlier than it should have, and then bright red blood clots appeared. It is a sign of abnormal uterine bleeding that may occur because the placenta remnants haven’t come off.
- Lochia lasts more than 1.5 months. This is a symptom of the poor uterine constriction ability.
In case of any disturbing feelings or suspicions, contact your doctor for an exam and proper treatment, if needed.