The Messy Truth: Postpartum Bleeding
You’re all comfy in your big armchair with all of your favorite pillows, with your feet up, feeding your baby, all while binge watching your favorite shows….
YOU FEEL IT
YOUR PAD IS OVERFLOWING.
What is all this crap coming out of my vagina? It’s Lochia.
Lochia is your body’s natural way of shedding all of the “debris” remaining in the uterus after childbirth combined with blood necessary to aid in healing the wound that is left behind from the placenta detaching. It’s messy, it may feel like it’s taking forever to go away, and you may experience cramping similar to menstrual cramps. And the blood. Blood is a necessary evil: blood carries the white cells to the uterine wound so it can heal, but then, in this particular healing process, it needs some place to go…..and that is OUT.
Lochia doesn’t discriminate, vaginal birth or cesarean birth, you will experience the joy of bleeding after the birth of your baby.
The good news: It goes away in 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, what are some tips for taking care of yourself…..while caring for a new baby…..and while healing from birth?
Cause for concern. First things first, let’s talk about what’s NOT normal since one of the most common questions we get asked as postpartum doulas is, “Is this normal?” It’s important that you know the signs of postpartum hemorrhage and when to call 9-1-1 or your doctor. WebMD recommends taking action if any of the following occur:
Bright red bleeding beyond the third day after birth, blood clots bigger than a plum, bleeding that soaks more than one sanitary pad an hour and doesn’t slow down or stop, blurred vision, chills, clammy skin, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, weakness, nausea or faint feeling.
Protect your clothes. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had THAT heavy period where you bleed through EVERYTHING. (Raises hand here). Postpartum bleeding can be like that. I was 3 days postpartum, going to a Christmas Eve gathering and felt it: GUUUUUUUSH. I couldn’t hand my baby off and get to the bathroom fast enough. But NOW, postpartum women are savvy as shit and know all the cool tricks. Postpartum bleeding woman tip: ADULT DIAPERS! Yep. They are shameless about admitting to wearing them and even post pictures on Instagram showing how they, too, can rock that postpartum blood catcher! Another option are big, giant pads in the underwear from the hospital, mesh underwear, or your old nasty underwear that you don’t mind throwing away.
Postpartum doula reminder: tampons are a big NO until your first true period postpartum due to the possibility of introducing bacteria that can lead to infection.
What to wear? Two words: black anything. Leggings, yoga pants, skirts….you get it. Why black? It hides the leakage until you can get somewhere to take care of it. Reducing the stress of “being seen” with blood, well, reduces the stress. Postpartum doula tip: all the items noted above are STRETCHY to accommodate your postpartum body.
Protect your furniture. Inevitably, you will bleed through a pad. You know all those “blue pads” they use at the hospital? I’m not saying to take them, but those are what you need to protect your couch, rocking chair, arm chair and mattress. Postpartum doula tip: cover them with a pretty blanket or piece of washable fabric if you care about people seeing them on your furniture. Also, using the puppy training “potty pads” are more cost effective and work just as well as the human ones found in the drug store.
Tidying up. Doesn’t that sound so much better than “cleaning up”? First things first, take care of you. Using your squirt (or peri) bottle usually sent home with you from the hospital, rinse your vaginal area with warm water. Postpartum doula tip: Have more than one available and full of warm water as one good rinse may not be enough. Also, have a stack of inexpensive wash cloths by the toilet for patting yourself dry. These are easily washed and can be disposed of if staining occurs.
Next, have some bleach wipes (such as Clorox brand) readily available. Invariably, blood gets somewhere and these are handy for doing a quick wipe up of the toilet, shower, sink, etc.
The bottom line is be prepared. Postpartum bleeding is not the only mess you’ll encounter after having a baby. Just sayin’.