Vaginal Bleeding After Delivery

Skip to the navigation

Topic Overview

The following guidelines will help you determine the severity of your vaginal bleeding.

  • Severe bleeding means that you are soaking through your usual pads each hour for 2 or more hours. For most women, soaking through their usual pads every hour for 2 or more hours is not normal and is considered severe.
  • Moderate bleeding means that you are soaking more than 1 pad in 3 hours.
  • Mild bleeding means that you are soaking less than 1 pad in more than 3 hours.
  • Minimal bleeding means "spotting" or a few drops of blood.

Your body will change during the days and weeks after delivery (postpartum period) as it returns to its nonpregnant condition. While most women move through the postpartum period without serious health problems, some women may have vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than normal or is heavier than normal.

Like pregnancy changes, postpartum changes are different for every woman. By knowing what normally occurs during the postpartum period, you will be able to identify a problem sooner.

Immediately after delivery, you will have a bloody discharge (lochia) from your vagina. This will turn pinkish within a week and become white or yellowish after about 10 days. Lochia may last for 2 to 4 weeks and can come and go for about 2 months.

Do not worry if you pass a few blood clots, as long as they are smaller than a golf ball in diameter. Use pads, not tampons, during this time. Change the pad at least every 4 hours to prevent irritation and infection.

Do not have sex until the lochia is almost gone. If sex causes pain, wait a few days because your body is still healing.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofMay 22, 2015