Does my postpartum bleeding sound like lochia or am I having my period?

(March 24, 2010)

Lochia is a term given to the substance that is discharged from the uterus, through the vagina after childbirth. It consists of blood, mucus and placental tissue. The release of this discharge, which is also called bleeding, normally lasts for 2 to 3 weeks, but in some cases, can also go on for 6 to 8 weeks, post delivery. It is quite possible for the bleeding (lochia) to resume, after a break, in case it stops very early the first time. The occurrence can probably happen because your uterus is contracting to its original size and your body is trying to deal with the influx of hormones.

Your first post-delivery period occurs before ovulation and is normally (but not necessarily) a sign, that you are fertile again. After delivering, you probably will not get your first period till the time you are breastfeeding your baby. In case you are not breastfeeding, you may get your periods anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks, after your deliver. However, this timeframe differs for everyone. Though rare, it is also possible for a woman to start a period, immediately after the childbirth bleeding stops. An early period could range anywhere from a day to a week, after Lochia discharge ends.

In order to identify if your bleeding is lochia or if you are having your period, you will need to check its appearance. Given below, are the signs that will tell you if your bleeding is lochia:

•    Lochia will start out as a rather heavy flow, and will be bright red in color, for the first three or four days. You may also notice some tiny blood clots in the beginning.

•    After about four days, the bleeding will reduce to what you may normally experience to your period and it changes its color to a pinkish-brown. You may also observe that when you have had an active day, the bleeding goes back to being bright red in color.

•    Gradually, it turns white or yellow.

As mentioned earlier, at times, the discharge could also appear dark or red, resembling your menstrual period. If the bleeding reduces and then increases gain, even heavier than before, it could mean that you are trying to be too active, too soon. Make sure you try to get enough rest. However, in case you notice large recurring clots of blood, or the flow of blood is too heavy, please inform your gynecologist right away, as this could be caused by leftover placenta.

Submitted by P T on March 24, 2010 at 12:07

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