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What is This Discharge?

Lochia (the vaginal discharge of your uterine lining) usually persists three to four weeks following a cesarean birth and six to eight weeks after a vaginal birth.

During the first 10 postpartum days, lochia should follow a regular pattern. For the first few days, you will see red blood and, possibly, small clots. It is normal for the flow to increase whenever you increase your level of activity—even if that means simply getting out of bed. From the second to tenth day, the flow will turn to brown or dark red blood and mucus.

Use pads rather than tampons to absorb the flow. Occasionally you may pass fist-sized clots. Don't panic; this is normal. However, if the flow turns bright red and becomes heavy after you have been discharged from the hospital, you should rest and count the pads you use. If rest does not slow the flow and you saturate a pad in less than two hours, call your doctor.

Between two to three weeks after delivery, the discharge will turn white or yellow mixed with mucus and sometimes blood. The flow will slowly decrease to a very small amount over the next several weeks.

You may take showers or baths, and no special vaginal care is necessary.

Menstruation cycles resume at varying times after delivery, but it may take a few months for the cycles to become regular again. Nursing mothers often find it takes 18 weeks or longer to resume menstruation.

Remember: you can become pregnant before your menstrual periods resume, and you can become pregnant even if you are nursing. Be sure to discuss family planning with your doctor.