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Vaginal Bleeding After Delivery

Topic Overview

The following guidelines will help you determine the severity of your vaginal bleeding.

  • Severe bleeding means that you are passing clots of blood and soaking through your usual pads or tampons each hour for 2 or more hours. For most women, passing clots of blood from the vagina and soaking through their usual pads or tampons every hour for 2 or more hours is not normal and is considered severe.
  • Moderate bleeding means that you are soaking more than 1 pad or tampon in 3 hours.
  • Mild bleeding means that you are soaking less than 1 pad or tampon in more than 3 hours.
  • Minimal bleeding means "spotting" or a few drops of blood.

Your body will change during the days and weeks after delivery (postpartum period) as it returns to its nonpregnant condition. While most women move through the postpartum period without serious health problems, some women may have vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than normal or is heavier than normal.

Like pregnancy changes, postpartum changes are different for every woman. By knowing what normally occurs during the postpartum period, you will be able to identify a problem sooner.

Immediately after delivery, you will have a bloody discharge (lochia) from your vagina. This will turn pinkish within a week and become white or yellowish after about 10 days. Lochia may last for 2 to 4 weeks and can come and go for about 2 months.

Do not worry if you pass a few blood clots, as long as they are smaller than a golf ball in diameter. Use pads, not tampons, during this time. Change the pad at least every 4 hours to prevent irritation and infection.

Do not have sex until the lochia is almost gone. If sex causes pain, wait a few days because your body is still healing.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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