Something many first-time moms might not know in reference to what will happen with their bodies after giving birth is that they can expect to bleed. Understandably, the body goes through a pretty intense experience while birthing a child, so it continues to bleed vaginally — similar to a period — for a bit of time afterward. All it really comes down to is the body expelling the extra blood and tissue that it needed for the baby. But how long can you expect to bleed? And what are normal levels of bleeding? To find out, we asked two doctors to weigh in on it.
Iffath Hoskins, MD, clinical associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said bleeding will typically last for about 10-14 days. Heather Rupe, MD, DO, OB/GYN at The Womens Group of Franklin and WebMD contributor, agreed with Dr. Hoskins and added that women can also see spotting for up to eight weeks post-childbirth.
New moms can expect the blood to be bright red and thick because of the tissue right after giving birth, Dr. Hoskins said, but as time goes on, it should change to a brown or orange shade. During this time, pads will be your friend, but it can get messy, so wearing some crummy clothes that you don't mind getting dirty is a good idea. The blood is not cause for alarm; however, if you're passing any clots or rapidly bleeding through pads, it might be time to check back in with your doctor. Dr. Hoskins also cites localized pain in the perineum, fever, and pus as other causes for concern.
Dr. Hoskins put it simply when she said, "No one ever died from being embarrassed about an unnecessary phone call. But postpartum bleeding and/or sepsis are known killers of mothers." We couldn't have said it better. If you're ever in doubt, it's always smart to ask your doctor for help.