Bleeding & Birth [what to expect]
Blood from the warrior is often seen as a badge of honor; what if we looked at the blood of a woman, a mother as the same?– Wild Power by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer & Alexandra Pope, paraphrased
We believe that education and information makes for a more empowered approach to this season, dear ones. Every woman bleeds after vaginal birth. Since we are not medical professionals, we won’t dig into atypical circumstances much today but instead will normalize what to expect (and how to prepare).
What to Expect During Birth
Did you know that under normal circumstances birthing humans lose about 1 pint of blood during and after vaginal delivery? Blood is lost because some blood vessels are opened when the placenta detaches from the uterus. The contractions of the uterus help close these vessels until the vessels can fully heal.
It’s wise to note that excessive bleeding can sometimes occur, and your midwife or obstetric physician is prepared for this possibility! Reasons for extra bleeding can be cause for little or much concern, dependent upon your body and your birth journey. Herbs and/or medications or medical intervention may be necessary when the vagina or cervix is torn or cut during delivery; when mom has difficulties clotting; when there is an infection noted; or if a piece of the placenta remains inside of the uterus after delivery.
Your doula is a wonderful gift to both typical and atypical bleeding experiences during labor and birth. You aren’t going it alone! (Nor is your partner.) In fact, you’re traveling this road alongside the hundreds of other women we’ve served.
What to Expect After Birth
It is absolutely normal to bleed after having a baby. This bleeding mainly comes from the area in your womb (uterus) where the placenta was attached (described above), but it can also come from any tearing during the birth and the other causes we’ve listed. Bleeding is usually heaviest just after birth and gradually becomes less over the next few hours.
Postpartum bleeding will continue to reduce over the next few days. And the color will change from fresh red to brown over a few weeks. This bleeding is called lochia and typically stops around the time your baby is 6 weeks old.
Postpartum Bleeding Bonus Notes –
Bleeding does often increase during breastfeeding sessions. This is because breastfeeding allows your uterus to begin to contract. It is nice to have this expectation ahead of time – so that if you feel cramping or extra blood expelling itself from your precious bod, you’ll have an idea of what’s going on! It is also important to keep an eye on your blood loss in the weeks after giving birth; an increase in blood flow may be from being too active – but it can also be a sign of something more significant. Also, blood clots can be normal, but it’s also always good to check in.
Always mention any changes in flow, new smells, or vaginal discomfort to your postpartum doula and/or call your provider. We won’t give you determining factors here, again, because this isn’t our role. We do want to remind you that you are so, so wise – so trust your instincts, and when in doubt make that phone call!
How to Prepare
Prenatally, we highly suggest that you speak to your providers, labor doula, and postpartum doula if you have any extra questions that feel like they need to be answered. Questions help you to plan mentally and emotionally for what is to come; and normalize your, partners, and family/friends expectations for during and after birth!
For postnatal bleeding and care, we suggest either heavy duty pads or depends! A lot of our moms prefer depends, as there is no extra concern about leakage. If you are using frozen pads, these can also work quite well in your depends. Our Ayurvedic doula team makes additional bottom oil/salves and can support you with a sitz bath upon request (we’ll talk more about vaginal/bottom care in another post).
One more postpartum suggestion – plan your post-birth clothing around bleeding and pads! Loose shirts and pants often feel quite comfortable to many moms, while others enjoy using maternity leggings indefinitely.
Questions? Thoughts on your own experience(s) you’d like to share? Comment below!
As your doulas, we are able to stand alongside you in both typical and atypical birth bleeding experiences! We highly suggest that our moms have both labor and postpartum support for this and many other reasons. Including the fact that your doula increases the ability for you to have a positive birth outcome, and better mental health for life!
Cheering your best birth, postpartum, and life on, Mom.
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
Click here for a free consultation on your needs
Picture credit: behind the scenes of birth with our beloved Doula Kristy.
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.