Immediately following delivery of your baby, your body discharges the lining of the womb. This discharge, called the lochia, is usually bright red, very heavy, it may come out in gushes or flow more evenly like a normal period, and may contain clots. Over the first six to 12 hours this should lessen when resting. However, when you get up and move around you may experience a rush of blood loss. This is because the blood pools inside the body, escaping when you change position.
You may bleed for as little as two to three weeks or as long as six weeks after birth. After the first few days your blood loss will lessen. It will change colour from bright red to more pink and watery and then brown over the second and third week.
Hygiene and comfort are really important after having your baby. Remember to wash your hands before changing pads as well as after. You need to change your pads frequently to stay fresh and help prevent infection. You will need to change your sanitary pad or towel every one to two hours to begin with and then, over the next two days, possibly every three to four hours.
It’s important to buy specific maternity pads for straight after birth. They are longer, softer and much more absorbent than ordinary sanitary pads. Buy at least two or three packs of 12. For better comfort, wear high-waisted old cotton knickers to hold your pads in place properly and especially if you have bruising or stitches.
You may notice that your loss is heavier after breastfeeding because the suckling causes your womb to tighten, forcing the lochia out. It may also become a little heavier if you are busy and not taking enough rest.
Best pads for after birth bleeding
Independent midwives advise women to use specially designed maternity pads but to avoid any made with plastics as these will make the wound area hot and aggravate any stitches. Natracare maternity pads are extra soft, long, very absorbent, free from plastics, super absorbent gels and dry weaves. If you have stitches after giving birth, avoid pads with a dry-weave cover, (which is actually just plastic with holes punched in it) because your stitches can get caught in them making you very uncomfortable.
Another tip is to keep some maternity pads with you leading up to the birth for when your waters break!
Find out more about our Maternity Pads