Lochia, also known as postpartum bleeding is the vaginal discharge after childbirth, containing blood, mucus and uterine tissue. The discharge usually comes from the uterine cavity, cervix and vagina. The vaginal discharge begins soon after the delivery and continues for 4 to 6 weeks with the heavy flow for the first 10 to 14 days.
Some women have very less discharge for a shorter period whereas some may have discharge longer than 6 weeks. It may be excessive in twin delivery or hydramnios.
Vaginal discharge has an offensive fishy smell and alkaline in reaction in the beginning and becomes acidic towards the end of the puerperium.
Amount of vaginal discharge
During vaginal delivery, the average amount of blood loss is about 500ml. The average amount of discharge for the first 5-6 days in a postpartum mother is estimated to be 250 ml.
Types of vaginal discharge (lochia)
Depending on the colour, lochia is of 3 types:
- Lochia rubra: The vaginal discharge is dark red in colour and starts after delivery, last for 1-4 days. The flow may be heavy during this time. The vaginal discharge may consists of blood, remains of fetal membranes and meconium etc.
- Lochia serosa: It is yellowish pink in colour and last for 5 to 9 days. It may consists of wound exudate, mucus from cervix and microorganism.
- Lochia alba: The vaginal discharge looks pale white or brownish in appearance, lasts for 10-15 days.
In the later weeks, the discharge may become very irregular and looks like watery mucus and will be white or yellow in colour.
When to seek medical advice
When you have lochial discharge more than the normal, that is, about 500 ml then it’s a cause for concern and should be reported immediately to the healthcare provider.
You can also report to the health care provider in the following situations-
- When vaginal discharge has very offensive smell that may indicate infection.
- When discharge is heavy for more than 2 weeks and lasts longer than 8 weeks.
- When you pass large clots for more than one week and have abdomen pain.
After the delivery of the baby, you need to take complete rest. Use pads instead of tampons to prevent infections. You might need maternity pads in the initial days due to heavy blood flow. Always wear comfortable undergarments to prevent rashes and infections and loose-fitting clothes. Maintain good hygienic conditions. If any unusual symptom occurs, make an appointment to see your doctor.
In the above post, we discussed the lochial discharge in postpartum women, the amount of vaginal bleeding, types and when to seek medical advice.