What to Expect: Postpartum Bleeding

Let’s talk about postpartum bleeding!


Welcome back to our “ what to expect” series! This week we are going to talk about postpartum bleeding after you have given birth. This is a topic I find important to discuss, there are so many questions about it, and it is important to know what is normal and what to expect.

Why do we bleed after having a baby?

Postpartum bleeding is our uterus healing from delivery. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth, you will still bleed after delivery. The bleeding comes from the “wound” site where the placenta was in the uterus. Typically the placenta detaches on its own after a vaginal birth and is removed manually for a cesarean birth.

The wound site from the placenta in the uterus averages 22cm and that is what causes bleeding after birth as the site heals. Just one of the many reasons why rest is so vital to your postpartum recovery.

How long will I bleed after giving birth?

Bleeding after giving birth typically lasts on the heavier side for 10 days of so. After that women may experience light bleeding (think the last day or two of a period) for four to six weeks, yes that’s right! That placenta site is healing, “scabbing” over and returning your uterine lining to what it should be.

What to look out for with postpartum bleeding.

Look out for bleeding that picks up after it has stopped or slowed down. This can indicate that you are doing too much too soon and have ‘agitated’ the healing wound site. Take the next day to slow down, drink water, and call in some friends or a postpartum doula for help.

Look out for heavy bleeding (usually closer to delivery) that soaks a pad in an hour. This is usually postpartum hemorrhage and while it typically happens closer to delivery time, it can happen up to 12 weeks postpartum!

Look out for a swollen, tender uterus especially with an accompanying fever. Call your provider immediately to discuss your symptoms and have them check on you. This could indicate hemorrhaging, but usually is a piece of retained placenta or membrane. Retained placenta or membrane is when a piece of placenta or the membranes that surround it getting stuck in the uterus. It can cause infection and also prevent the uterus from fully clamping down to stop bleeding and beginning the healing process of the uterus.

How do I rest after having a baby while still getting everything done?

Planning, planning, planning! The best way to have the best postpartum recovery possible is to secure help after birth and plan for a smooth postpartum recovery. Help after birth can be a mix of daytime or overnight newborn postpartum care, family and friends. Prepare and plan meals during pregnancy and freeze them for easy dinners during postpartum recovery. And telling guests to bring you meals when they come to visit or help with a chore.

Do not be afraid to secure support or ask for help from those around you. It really does take a village!