Recovery from pregnancy and birth is different for all women. However, all women will experience some vaginal bleeding in the days and weeks after birth. It’s important that you know what is normal and when you should ask for advice from your midwife or doctor.
Postnatal blood loss (lochia) – it is normal for women who have given birth (either vaginally or via caesarean section) to bleed from their womb (uterus) until the lining is renewed. The medical name for this loss of blood is ‘lochia’. It is a combination of mucous, tissue and blood that is shed after birth as your womb replaces its lining.
Everyone is different, however, the blood loss can last from two to six weeks and usually varies in both colour and amount during this time.
The table below will give you a guide to the amount and colour of blood loss that you can generally expect for the first six weeks.
Guide to colour and amount of Bleeding in the Days/weeks after the birth of your baby
The table below describes the normal amount and colour of blood loss as you would see it on a standard absorbent maternity towel:
Quite a heavy loss, soaking a maternity sanitary towel every few hours.
You may have one or two quite large clots (the size of a tomato) or several smaller ones (about the size of a grape) during the first two to three days after the birth and have no further problems. While clots are not unusual, it is essential to discuss them with your midwife (showing them to your midwife whenever possible).
If any of the following are present:
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
if any of the following are present:
Please ring your maternity unit within the next hour
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
If you are still concerned about your blood loss, contact your Community Midwife or call NHS 111 – dial 111
After pains following birth are normal and not a cause for concern. You may notice these are worse when you have had more than one child and during a breastfeed. You should expect after pains to improve day by day as your uterus returns to its normal size. Taking regular paracetamol (1g every 4 hours- hours- not exceeding 4g in 24hrs) and ibuprofen (300–400 mg 3–4 times a day) will help with the discomfort.
During the first weeks immediately after birth you are at an increased risk of getting a bacterial infection, so good hand hygiene is very important both in hospital and at home. Washing your hands before and after using the toilet/changing your sanitary towel is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to prevent infection. Here is a useful video on the best way to wash your hands:
You are advised to use maternity towels rather than slim absorbent sanitary towels to allow:
• your perineum (area between your vagina and anus) to heal with minimal irritation
• a more accurate assessment of your blood loss
Use of tampons should be avoided to minimise your risk of an infection.