The period that a woman has after her pregnancy is unlike a woman’s regular period, both in the type of discharge that the woman has as well as the duration or length of the period.
The period after pregnancy is also known as lochia and is the post partum, vaginal discharge that may last between 3 and 6 weeks.
What is normal lochia or period after pregnancy
This is a vaginal discharge that starts directly after the delivery of the baby; whether vaginally or by C section. It can last up to 6 weeks and consists of blood, mucus and any remaining placental tissue.
For the first few days, the discharge is usually red in color and consists mainly of blood. Thereafter the lochia turns brownish or pinkish and this type of discharge continues till about 10 days after the delivery.
At this stage it contains cervical mucus, red blood cells, white blood cells or leucocytes and other circulatory fluids.
The discharge then turns almost yellowish white in the later stages (after two weeks or so). It now contains few blood cells and more of white blood cells, epithelial, cells, fat, cholesterol and mucus.
This long period after pregnancy smells much like a regular period. If this is not so and if the discharge smells foul this should be reported to the doctor because this could indicate the presence of an infection. Also if the there is fresh bleeding or hemorrhaging later in the period; even weeks after the delivery this should be reported as well.
Other things to know about the lochia period after pregnancy
It is advisable to stock up on sanitary pads before the due date of the baby, so that there is no need to rush out and get more right after the birth.
It is also advisable to use pads and not tampons since tampons carry the risk of infection. It is best to use extra absorbent pads that are designed for new mothers. Also remember to wear roomy, comfy panties during the period after birth and to change pads frequently.
Any unusually heavy bleeding or fresh red discharge weeks after the pregnancy or foul smelling discharge should be reported.
When will you get your regular period after pregnancy?
The lochia will last anywhere between three to six weeks, after which a woman may go up to a year without a regular period if she is breastfeeding. New mothers who are not breastfeeding may get their period about two months after the pregnancy.
However, many women including those who breastfeed exclusively, may also get their normal period just a few months after pregnancy. So while breastfeeding is thought of as a method of natural birth control, it is an unreliable form of birth control and it cannot control ovulation or even menstruation uniformly in all women.
Other thing that could affect the return of a normal period after pregnancy is how much a woman may be supplementing with a bottle. Also a woman who is more stressed and has a baby who keeps her awake nights, will have her period delayed.