Lochies: what do you need to know about bleeding after childbirth?

Lochia, or bleeding after childbirth, is a normal part of the post-partum period. Although uncomfortable, this phenomenon is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Do you experience bleeding after childbirth and wonder what causes it? We'll explain how it works, and how to make the most of your time as a new mother!

What are lochiae or post-delivery bleeding?

Lochia is also known as post-delivery bleeding. They are vaginal bleeding or discharge that occurs naturally after giving birth. During pregnancy, coagulation is higher than usual due to a number of haemostatic factors (i.e. factors that stop the flow of blood). This is completely normal and is part of the factors that prepare you for the birth of your baby while you're still pregnant. They will in fact accompany the healing of the uterine wound that appears after expulsion of the placenta.

They eventually stop naturally. Post-delivery blood loss is a mixture of blood, cervical mucus and uterine residue in the form of clots. These include placental membrane debris. Bleeding after childbirth comes from the placental wound, where the placenta was located. This blood loss is much greater than menstrual bleeding, with women losing an average of 500ml. Women who have given birth by caesarean section will experience lighter, but also longer bleeding.

This allows the uterus to return to its original size, thanks to post-delivery contractions known as trenches.

What is the usual color and texture of lochiae?

As mentioned above, lochia is a mixture of several substances emanating from the placental wound. Initially, for the first three days, post-delivery blood loss appears very bloody, light red in color, then gradually turns pinkish, ending up brown. This phenomenon is actually caused by theoxidation of the blood over time. The color thus evolves with each passing day. Breastfeeding may help to reduce the length of bleeding: in fact, when a woman breastfeeds, she secretesoxytocin during the feed, which triggers more effective contractions - the famous "trenches" - to remove whatever is still contained in the uterus.

How long does bleeding last after childbirth?

The duration varies from woman to woman, depending on whether she is breastfeeding or not, and also on the nature of her delivery: Caesarean or vaginal. It is estimated, however, that bleeding lasts up to a month and a half, becoming weaker and weaker over time.

The first days after delivery

For the first few days after childbirth, lochia are red, liquid in consistency, and bleed profusely. Secretions during the first few days are made up of blood, uterine mucosa, placental membranes, vernix, lanugo and sometimes meconium. Your midwife at the maternity hospital may come and inspect them to check that everything is normal. Don't hesitate to ask her about future contraception!

One week post-delivery

About a week after delivery, the bleeding will tend to turn brownish, still liquid in consistency but with a weaker flow. It's made up solely of blood serum, white blood cells and lymphatic fluid. As the secretions are no longer so abundant, and you're back at home with greater ease to rinse them off, you can use menstrual panties dedicated to abundant flow: the sanitary towels you've been using until now may seem uncomfortable or irritating.

Two weeks after giving birth

After two weeks, your discharge will change appearance, becoming yellowish and creamy in consistency. It's also weaker during this period, and its composition changes, as it's composed solely of dead cells mixed with mucus and other bacteria. In fact, after 20 days post-partum, the "little return from childbirth" phase appears. This is a bleeding phase that can last up to a month, due to the drop in hormones. It should not be confused with the actual return of labor.

Three weeks post-delivery

3 weeks after giving birth, discharge becomes whitish in color, with a liquid consistency and low intensity.

What are the hygiene recommendations for lochia?

Although lochia is a totally natural phenomenon after birth, it's important to monitor its quality and quantity, as well as its appearance and odour, and to maintain scrupulous intimate hygiene.

Banish internal sanitary protection

To protect yourself during lochia, wearing tampons or any other internal protection is not recommended. In fact, as the cervix is not yet fully enclosed, it's better to use external sanitary protection such as menstrual panties. Be sure to change your protection regularly to avoid any risk of complications. Similarly, it's a good idea to avoid swimming, whether in the sea, a pool or even a bath, for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth. In fact, this contributes to the proliferation of bacteria.

Intimate cleansing with water

In the same spirit of preventing the growth of bacteria, it's a good idea to take care with intimate hygiene, using only water to avoid over-aggression, and avoiding douching. To avoid the risk of infection, wash your hands before and after changing your sanitary protection.
You can also rinse your intimate area with lukewarm water after using the toilet. After childbirth, you may be suffering fromabrasions or an episiotomy, so it's important not to irritate the area too much by washing too often or too irritatingly. Use a PH-neutral soap for the rest of your body, and above all, allow yourself a few moments without underwear to let your genitals breathe and dry out: a short nap lying on a towel will do you a world of good!

When should I consult a doctor about lochia?

It's important to monitor lochia, its appearance and quantity. If you notice unusual bleeding, i.e. bleeding that smells bad, is more intense, and is accompanied by other symptoms such as pelvic pain, fever andrapid pulse, consult your doctor or gynaecologist: it could be an infection of the uterus (endometritis), or an infection of the fallopian tubes (also known as salpingitis). Intense to hemorrhagic bleeding may be a sign of post-partum hemorrhage. Consult your healthcare professional as soon as possible, who will provide you with the appropriate treatment.

FAQs on lochia and bleeding after childbirth

What are lochiae and post-partum bleeding like?

Lochia, its color and quantity, evolve naturally over time and gradually disappear. However, it's important to keep an eye on them to make sure there are no infections.

How can I stop lochia?

Lochia generally disappears after a month and a half. Breastfeeding will tend to reduce the duration of lochia.

You may also like :