What is postpartum lochia?What you need to know

For many women, the best part of being pregnant is going nine months without a period. Also, even after pregnancy, it may take some time for your period to return, especially if you’re breastfeeding. However, many primiparous women do not know that all women experience postpartum vaginal bleeding called lochia after giving birth, regardless of the type of birth.

Lochia is like menstruation, but it is made up of multiple postpartum substances. From its quality to its duration, every woman can have a different experience. Here, we explore what it is, why it happens, and how long it lasts.

What is postpartum lochia?

Lochia refers to vaginal bleeding and discharge that occurs soon after childbirth. It consists of extra blood, tissue and mucus from the uterus after pregnancy. It usually follows a pattern of progression, changing its properties over time before completely stopping.1

why does that happen?

When a woman delivers the placenta in the third stage of labor, it leaves a scar that has been detached from the uterine wall. As the uterus shrinks to its pre-pregnancy size and the wound heals, the wound bleeds and the tissue that connects the uterus to the placenta is sloughed off. This blood and tissue exits the body through the vagina.1,2

During pregnancy, the uterus is lined with mucus that must be drained after delivery. The cervix also produces mucus during pregnancy and after childbirth, which mixes with the outflowing blood and tissue to form lochia.2

lochia stage

After delivery, the quality and quantity of lochia will change over time. In the early postpartum period, it is heavy and bloody, gradually turning pink, brown, and finally white. These different types have different names, timelines and characteristics.1

Lochia Rubra

During the first few days after delivery, the vaginal discharge consists mainly of blood containing debris left by the placenta. Lochia rubra is a bright or dark deep red color that may contain small clumps. A lochia stream resembles a severe period and may be accompanied by mild to moderate spasms.1,2

serous lochia

Serous lochia usually begins within the first week after giving birth. It still consists mainly of blood. However, it also contains white blood cells and other organisms. Lochia serosa is less red and appears pink or brown. It is thinner and more watery than Lochia rubra. In the case of lochia, blood clots should be less frequent and the amount of secretion should be reduced to a moderate amount.1,2

lochia alba

The final stages of postpartum discharge progression are primarily composed of mucus, leukocytes, and other organisms. Lochia alba contains very little blood, so it is not red. It can appear white, yellow, or transparent. Lochia alba flow may be light or just a patch, but it will gradually decrease as the placental site heals.2

How long do lochia last?

Lochia lasts for 6 to 12 weeks after birth. It usually presents as bright red dew (reddew) for 3-4 days, but serous lochia usually begins 5-6 days after birth and lasts up to 3-4 weeks. Lochia alba takes an average of 3 to 4 weeks after Lochia serosa. However, it is normal for serous lochia to last up to 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. Women who have had a vacuum or forceps delivery may experience prolonged bleeding.1,2

when to be concerned

There are variations in what is considered normal for lochia flow, duration, and appearance. There are a few things to be aware of, but if you meet any of these criteria or have any concerns, you should contact your healthcare provider.


Soaking a full-thickness pad for more than 2 hours every hour may result in excessive bleeding.1


Small blood clots may be normal, especially in the first few days after giving birth. However, if these clots are larger than the size of a golf ball, it can be concerning.1


It doesn’t smell good. It may have a musty or metallic odor similar to the menstrual period. However, a pungent, significantly unpleasant, or foul odor may indicate a uterine infection or placental retention.1,2


They range from dark red or brown to pink to white. However, if it looks green or pus-like, it could be a sign of infection.2

Lochia is a normal part of postpartum recovery, but it can be uncomfortable, especially since you can only use pads to catch the bleeding. increase. If you are concerned about the amount or type of discharge, call your healthcare provider or mention this at your postpartum appointment. Otherwise, understand that it is temporary and get through it. It dies as quickly as a baby dies in its infancy.

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/22485
2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/