Bleeding after a c-section: what to expect

It is common to have some bleeding after a caesarean section. Find out how long you are likely to bleed for and how heavy it should be.

How long do you bleed for after a c-section?

You will have some vaginal bleeding (called lochia) for two to six weeks after the birth. This is normal and natural.

This bleeding happens after vaginal or c-section births. It mainly comes from where the placenta was attached to the womb.

How heavy should the bleeding be?

The bleeding may be quite heavy for the first day and is either red or brownish-red in colour.

Over the next few weeks, the bleeding should get less heavy and the colour should be a lighter pink or brown. The bleeding may get heavier and look a brighter red colour for a short time after you breastfeed. This is because you produce hormones when you breastfeed, which cause the womb to contract. You may get a cramping feeling when this happens.

You may get more bleeding first thing in the morning or after you’ve been moving around a lot. The colour should not change however.

What can you do about it?

Using maternity pads, rather than thinner sanitary pads, will make it easier for your midwife to see how much blood you have lost and they may feel more comfortable to wear.

To reduce the risk of infection:

  • don’t use tampons for the first six weeks
  • change your pad each time you visit the toilet
  • wash your hands thoroughly before and after changing your pad.

Blood clots after a c-section

You may pass a small number of clots over the first few days. These can be large clots (about the size of a tomato) or smaller clots (the size of a grape). This is normal but you should tell your midwife and show them the clot if possible.

Tell your midwife if you continue to pass a lot of blood or clots, or if the blood has an unpleasant smell. You may need treatment to prevent you losing too much blood or to treat an infection.

Read more about your recovery after a c-section here.

Sources

  1. NHS Choices (2016) [Accessed 15 March 2018] Caesarean section: recovery. www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section/recovery/
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Last reviewed on April 24th, 2018. Next review date April 24th, 2021.

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