Why is it important to pay attention to postpartum bleeding?
Updated: Jul 13, 2022
After you have a baby, you'll have some heavy vaginal discharge known as lochia. Lochia is made up of blood, mucus, and uterine membranes. The discharge is heaviest for the first few days and then slowly tapers until it stops completely 2 to 6 weeks post birth.
There is a common misconception that the blood comes from vaginal tearing, but it's actually from the placenta. A few minutes after the baby is born, the placenta will detach from the uterine wall and be birthed. If you have a vaginal birth, you'll push out the placenta, and if you have a c-section, your surgeon will remove it after they deliver the baby.
The placenta leaves an internal wound that bleeds. Your body will heal the wound by continuing to contract your uterus for a few days. These contractions are known as "after birth pains" and aren't nearly as intense as labor was. Most first time birthers barely feel them, or describe them as mildly uncomfortable. The discomfort increases with every baby you have.
The placenta is birthed after all pregnancies, so you'll bleed vaginally even if you have a c-section.
Your birth location will give you some large pads and disposable underwear for the first few days postpartum, and you'll want to have more on hand at home. You can use cloth or disposable menstrual pads, period underwear. You should never put anything into your vagina to manage bleeding (no tampons, menstrual cups, etc.). Check out this list of postpartum recovery must-haves.