Nothing prepared me for the bleeding after I gave birth. I thought it was going to be like a normal period flow, but heck no! The first few days felt like I was being drained. The heavy bleeding was mostly clots of dark red blood. I couldn’t go a minute without protection otherwise I made a huge mess.
But it got lighter as the days passed. I could leave the bathroom without leaving a trail of blood behind. It did not drip down my leg either. Then the portion of blood stain on my pad began to get smaller until there was no need again, about ten days after I gave birth.
After that time, I bled some weeks later but it didn’t last long. And you will know why that happened shortly.
The second time around, a lot of things were fast tracked, perhaps it was because I knew what to expect, but the bleeding stopped a lot earlier than it had the first time.
Postpartum bleeding is not exactly something you will be taught in a biology class. It is, however, an experience that all women who give birth have to go through, whether they had a vaginal birth or a c-section. The only difference is in the nature of the bleeding. It’s lighter if you gave birth via c-section and heavier if it’s a vaginal birth.
So, it is a very normal and an expected aftermath of giving birth. However, as with all things in the human body, there are certain things we should all know about the postpartum bleeding. Not all of it is normal and it could act as a sort of red flag literally for other conditions.
Below are the things we should all know about postpartum bleeding.
- Fresh bleeding after bleeding has stopped
This happened to me. My bleeding had stopped like ten days after I gave birth but few days later, it came back, vicious. I was alarmed and wondered how it happened. I also wondered if it was my first period and naively thought since I was breastfeeding, then I was safe. What a naïve thought.
Although, it wasn’t my period, according to my research, it was as a result of running about a lot and I had plenty to keep me running around back then. I was shuttling between my home and the hospital. It wasn’t an easy time, but we thank God it ended in praise!
If postpartum bleeding has stopped after several weeks, but you begin to notice “new” bleeding after this, it may be time to take things easy and slow down. While your body is healing, it’s important to ease back into daily routines, not drag your body into it. Taking the time to rest will allow your body to heal properly and minimize additional trauma or new complications.
- Breastfeeding can cause heavy postpartum bleeding
The way your body heals after giving birth is something that tells you about the kind of attention God pays to details. Breastfeeding helps your uterus contract which results in increased blood loss.
Your uterus is getting back in shape, thereby ejecting all foreign particles. Biologically, how that works is, while you breastfeed, oxytocin, the love hormone, is naturally released into your body so the act of breastfeeding speeds up the healing process. The more your uterus continues to contract and shrink back to its original size, the more blood you will discharge.
In conjunction with breastfeeding, a balanced diet will also help you get through postpartum bleeding quicker. For instance, iron levels in women tend to be low. To combat this, eat foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans and red meat.
- Postpartum bleeding can signal a genital infection
Talk about a red flag, postpartum bleeding raises a red flag immediately, there is something wrong in the body, especially the genital area.
It is important to see your doctor, if the blood discharged smells bad, you’re experiencing pain or you run a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Combined, these may be a sign of an infection.
Infections can be caused by trauma experienced during child birth. For instance, bacteria may come in contact with lacerations in your uterus (points where the placenta was detached after delivery), your caesarean scar, vagina, or perineum.
After delivery, taking care of yourself should be top priority. If you’re not healthy your baby won’t benefit from that.
- Urinating often helps to shrink the uterus
If your bladder is full, it will be harder for your uterus to contract back to its original size. If your uterus can’t contract, prolonged bleeding is the result.
After giving birth and during recovery, your body’s sensitivity makes it harder than normal to feel when your bladder’s full (incontinence is also a possibility). For this reason, it’s a good idea to visit the toilet as frequently as possible. Even when it feels pointless to go, try.
Actively trying to control this aspect of recovery will help ensure postpartum bleeding doesn’t linger longer than it should.
- Uterine trauma
Intense labour, whether due to carrying multiple babies, undergoing induced labour, delivering a large baby, having more than one caesarean birth or trying to manually remove a retained placenta, can result in uterine trauma (or rupture).
This kind of trauma will lead to excessive bleeding because of the damaged uterus. Although there is a risk of experiencing this condition, it’s fortunately very rare.
Woman who experience haemorrhaging as a result of trauma require immediate surgery. Repairing the rupture is the first course of action but if it can’t be repaired, an emergency hysterectomy might be needed.
Lochia is vaginal discharge that is made up of a mixture of blood, mucus and tissue (the tissue is the uterine wall shedding). Lochia starts off as bright red but will become more pink in color over the course of a few days. Also, it’ll start off thick and will eventually take on a thinner consistency over time.
Approximately 10 days after giving birth, the lochia will be noticeably lighter in colour until it finally takes on a whitish hue. At this point, it is made up of white blood cells and cells that lined the uterus. There may still be some extended bleeding visible, but in limited amounts.
- A retained placenta
One thing that can lead to excessive bleeding is when parts and pieces of the placenta are still in the uterus after giving birth. Thankfully, this condition is rare, but there are instances where parts of the placenta have remained attached to the uterus or become trapped behind a closed cervix after the baby has been delivered. This is dangerous because it results in increased bleeding and can even lead to an infection.
It is important to see a doctor immediately, if you ever suspect such a situation or bleeding has been going on for longer than it should.
While postpartum bleeding is natural, it shouldn’t be too much and we all need to pay attention to it. Because it comes from our bodies after all.
Baby dust mamas.
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