Congratulations! Your baby has been born and a new family has emerged. Visitors are coming in and out of the house dropping off gifts and meals. Your parents might be in town to help you for the first few days and everyone is gathering to meet your little one. As a mom, you are starting to breastfeed and learn about all the new changes of hormones in your body. Sleep is coming and going and all of your energy is going into strengthening your new relationship with your baby. As your uterus begins to contract back to its pre-pregnancy form, the tenderness of your womb reminds you that a miraculous event has just occurred. This healing time requires attention and care for not only baby but your uterus and vagina as well.
During the first few weeks surrounding the birth, you will experience vaginal bleeding called Lochia. Lochia is a mixture of blood, mucus and tissues from your uterus. It will start by feeling like a very heavy period and will require pads and liners until it has passed. It is important to only use sanitary pads during this time as a tampon may lead to unnecessary infections by introducing bacteria into your vagina. This natural part of postpartum can last anywhere from 3-6 weeks with the first few days being the heaviest days of bleeding. You may feel as if you’re bleeding more when standing but this is simply because blood may collect in your vagina while sitting down. The amount of blood you are losing may feel like a lot because the last time you had a period could have been 42 weeks ago. While you were still pregnant, you may have had a chance to discuss healing with your midwife or doctor so you will have an idea of what to expect as a normal amount of blood loss and what could potentially be a hemorrhage.
It is important to keep an eye on how many pads you are using in a day to ensure that your healing is on its natural path. Changing your pad every 2-3 hours during the first few days after birth is considered average. As time passes, the amount of blood you are losing will lessen and lessen. If you find that you are bleeding more than expected during your healing (hemorrhaging), feel light headed, your lochia has a foul smell, you’re clotting more than normal (some clots are expected), obtain a fever or chills, experience a heavy flow of blood after the flow has lightened, have abdominal pain or cramping, or are generally worried about your stages of recovery, contact your health care professional or emergency services right away.
There are 3 stages of Lochia:
Lochia Rubra: first 3-5 days after birth, bright red and heavy flow, may have blood clots (if bigger than a toonie, please consult a health care professional)
Lochia Serosa: 4-10 days after birth, the blood changes to a light pink or slightly brown color and the flow has lessened (if you experience an increase in blood loss that is red in color, please consult a health care professional)
Lochia Alba: day 10 onward, the discharge is yellow or creamy in color with no smell (if there is a smell or blood clot, please contact a health care professional)
As each woman will have a unique birth experience, the amount of days or weeks that you are bleeding for may be slightly different. The main goal is to recognize that the lochia is getting lighter in color and flow and that you aren’t experiencing any clots. Postpartum health is just as important as pregnancy and labor; Rest is incredibly important as your body needs to heal and nourish your new baby. Asking your friends and family to contribute to your housework and prepare your meals is an excellent way to minimize your housework. If you find that you are still in need of more help, postpartum doula services can be a great way to find more rest, nourishment, love and bonding time.
If you find that you are in need of a postpartum doula in the Victoria or Westshore area, please visit www.ficusdoula.com .