New mothers notice vaginal discharge during the period of pureperium post their delivery, referred to as Lochia or post-natal bleeding. The lochia chiefly contains uterine tissue, mucus and blood. The discharge usually lasts for 4-6 weeks post childbirth. Every mother irrespective of whether she had a normal delivery or caesarean section, experiences lochia or postnatal vaginal bleeding.
Types of Lochia-
During 4-6 weeks after child birth the vaginal discharge progresses through three successive stages:
Lochia rubra- also called the lochia cruenta is red in colour and is the first vaginal discharge lasting for 3-5 days after the birth of the baby.
Lochia serosa- is the slightly pink or brown in colour and consist of erythrocytes, leucocytes, serous exudates and cervical mucus. This lochia is generally seen till the tenth day of childbirth.
Lochia alba- also called the lochia purudenta is actually yellow in colour it usually lasts from third week to the sixth week post childbirth.
Lochia usually smells quite similar to normal menstrual blood flow. If you experience any obnoxious odour immediately consult your obstetrician.
With the uterus returning to its pre-pregnant state, the vaginal bleeding changes its colour from bright red to pink, brown and ultimately pale yellow or white in colour. You should use maternity pads and avoid tampons at every cost as it can aid bacteria from ascending into the uterus.
Personal hygiene is of topmost priority during puerperium so change sanitary pads every 3 to 4 hours a day. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using the pad.
Some women often report of fever with chills and your lower abdomen might also become slightly tender.
Lochia or postpartum bleeding after childbirth is usually identical to normal menstrual blood flow in quantity but sometimes this bleeding might be heavy in flow. It is then termed as PPH (Post Partum Haemorrhage).
If heavy bleeding occurs within 24 hours of childbirth it is called Primary PPH and if bleeding from vagina occurs somewhere between 24 hours to 12 weeks, it is known as secondary PPH.
A retained piece of membrane, some of placenta remnant and improperly contracted uterus are the factors responsible for PPH. If the bleeding is too heavy, immediately call ambulance for active medical intervention.
At the hospital your uterus will be checked for any placental or membrane residue, and if found, will be removed. You will be given blood transfusion if your haemoglobin level is below 12 gm per cent. You will also receive antibiotic coverage to avoid the spread of any infection.
With a good amount of rest, proper medical attention and adequate care, you will soon recuperate.