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Postpartum vaginal bleeding/spotting

Vaginal bleeding is a very common symptom that many women experience following delivery. Known as lochia, this discharge contains blood, mucus, and placental tissue, and usually lasts about a month after giving birth, but gets progressively lighter along the way. If you had an episiotomy or perineal tear while delivering, you may bleed from those areas as well.

What causes it?

Postpartum vaginal bleeding results from the disconnection of the placenta from the uterus. The exposed blood cells trickle into the uterus, which are then discharged along with some of the placental tissue. Episiotomies and perineal tears can also bleed following delivery if they are not fully stitched-up yet.


Rest, as always, cannot hurt. You should also avoid using tampons for about six or seven weeks, so sanitary pads would be helpful in dealing with the mess. Although abnormally heavy bleeding can indicate a more serious complication like a hemorrhage, it generally gets progressively lighter before resolving itself on its own. You should, however, call your healthcare provider if the bleeding is so heavy that it can soak a pad in under an hour over a two to three hour span, if accompanied by a fever, or if the discharge is abnormal.

You should also note that you can expect to notice lochia for up to 8 weeks after giving birth.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Episiotomy: When it’s needed, when it’s not.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 7/30/2015. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Postpartum care: After a vaginal delivery.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo, 3/24/2015. Web.

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