It is completely normal to experience vaginal bleeding after you have given birth to your baby.
In fact, postpartum bleeding is expected and regardless of whether you birth vaginally or via a Cesarean section your hospital bag “list” will suggest bringing a couple of packets of maternity pads with you for during your stay.
This extra blood is heavier in the days directly following the birth and tends to taper off and lessen in the coming days and weeks. It is, however, important to know what is normal and what is not. If very heavy bleeding persists for more than a couple of days it is important to raise the issue with your care team.
The blood usually lessens significantly after about ten days. You may find yourself moving on to a regular sanitary towel at this stage rather than the larger more absorbent maternity pads. Bleeding can continue for about six weeks after you have given birth. In the beginning, the blood is bright red and may contain a couple of clots of blood. This is something that your midwife will more than likely keep an eye on during your hospital stay to ensure that everything is happening as it should be and that the clots are an appropriate size for regular healthy postpartum bleeding.
Some women experience a postpartum haemorrhage after they have given birth. This usually happens within the first-day post-birth but can happen in the weeks that follow also. It is important to be aware of how often you are having to change your sanitary towel and how much blood you are seeing. This kind of bleed is very serious for your health and may require a blood transfusion. It can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly which affects all of your major organs as well as prompting dizzy spells or fainting which is very dangerous, especially as you care for a small baby.
Some of the things to look out for with a postpartum haemorrhage are clots of blood that are larger than a two euro coin. It is also important to look out for the rate at which you are having to change your pad. After 3-5 days post-partum if you are soaking a pad within an hour and it hasn’t appeared to slow down at all you should contact your GP or maternity hospital. Physical symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, chills, clammy skin and a faster than normal heartbeat.
In some cases, the cause of a postpartum haemorrhage is a problem with the way the Uterus contracts. After you have given birth the Uterus continues to contract to protect the area that the placenta once lived. It plays an important role in controlling the level of blood loss a woman experiences after she has delivered her baby. There is some research to show a higher chance of this kind of bleeding after delivering twins, a particularly long birth or if you have a history of postpartum haemorrhaging.
There are a couple of treatment options. Medicine may be given to help encourage the uterus to contract. In the same way, your Uterus may be massaged or an injection administered to help control the blood loss. A blood transfusion can help replace some of the blood lost.
Postpartum haemorrhage affects about 5% of women so it is important to know what to look out for.