How To Know Whether It Is Postpartum Bleeding Or A Period ?

Every mother experiences vaginal bleeding after the delivery. Your body removes the remains from the lining of the uterus where the placenta and the baby were attached before. This discharge of blood, dead tissues, and mucous is called lochia.

Lochia or vaginal bleeding after delivery happens irrespective of whether the mother has undergone a c-section of normal delivery.


Many women confuse between lochia and menstrual flow. The questions about the duration and the amount of the bleeding often bother them. Let’s us understand the difference between the two.

Bleeding And Lochia Discharge

Lochia is the first bleeding mothers experience after their delivery. The bleeding and discharge can last between 3-6 weeks—the flow gradually reduces with days. The initial discharge is heavy and red due to the copious amount of blood that is removed. Women could also experience clots in their discharge. Heavy bleeding continues for 3-5 days.


Within hours of giving birth, you could be changing a pad every 1 and a 1/2 to two hours—you need not panic as the bleeding will reduce after some time. Heavy bleeding continues for 3-5 days.

Gradually, the color shifts to pinkish discharge—it consists of white blood cells, mucus from the cervix and various microorganisms. The discharge could smell differently due to the presence of vaginal microbes—however, that is nothing to worry about. It would continue till about the tenth days of delivery.


By the 3rd week until the 6th week after your delivery, you will notice the discharge to be white or yellowish-white in color—it is primarily composed of epithelial cells, mucous, and white blood cells.

Bleeding In Menstruation

If you are breastfeeding, your menstrual cycle could start around 8 weeks after your baby is born.1 The discharge during your periods will be bright red in color, which will gradually change to dark brown and even black towards the end of the cycle. The difference in the color of the discharge will give you a clear idea whether it is lochia or menstrual flow.


Menstrual bleeding isn’t as heavy as the postpartum bleeding. The bleeding is only heavier for 3-4 days and reduces over the cycle. Most women get their periods around 56 days after giving birth.

Abnormal Bleeding After Delivery

Initially, the bleeding is heavy and you may feel a gush of blood flow when you stand up or after nursing your little one. There is nothing to worry—your hormones are causing your uterus to contract to its pre-pregnancy size.


Postpartum bleeding can also get irregular. After experiencing bleeding for days post your delivery, the lochia discharge may stop and start again as spotting or bleeding.2

If you experience excessive bleeding and clotting even after first 4 weeks of your delivery, your uterus may not be contracting normally. You must call your doctor right away.
Excess bleeding could happen when some part of the placenta remains inside the uterus for too long. Even if the bleeding is sporadic but still heavy that requires you to change pads every hour or you notice big chinks of blood clots along with discharge, it is still a matter of serious concern.


Postpartum Hemorrhage

If you delivered at the hospital and experience abnormal bleeding, your medical team will take measures to stop or reduce excess flow. However, if you are at home, the doctor will advise you to get admitted to the hospital immediately.

You will be provided with intravenous (IV) medication to help your uterus contract and expel out the waste on its own. If you have developed an infection, you will also be having antibiotics.


There are cases when the remains of a tissue are left in the uterus. You may have to undergo a small surgery called dilation and curettage (D&C), where the cervix is dilated and the tissue is scraped out of the uterus. It doesn’t involve making any incisions though you will still be kept under observation and provided with medication to ensure the uterus remains contracted and there is no infection.

Mothers are also advised to have a good diet including fluids and foods rich in folic acid. Iron supplements may also be administered to make up for the excessive blood loss.

Almost all times your body will recover itself and your menses will be back in time—it may take a little while to get into a regular cycle. It should be kept in mind that every person is different and the cycle may still vary from woman to woman.