Lochia is the vaginal discharge after having given birth. It contains blood, mucus, and uterine tissues. The lochia discharge usually last for 4-6 weeks, which is otherwise known as the post-partum period. It is how your body gets rid of the lining of the uterus after birth.
The discharge will change in color and become lighter as your uterus heals and returns to its normal prepregnancy state.
It is expected for lochia to decrease gradually over each week. If this does not occur or if the bleeding increases or the discharge is foul smelling you should contact us.
During the postpartum period your body will return gradually to its pre- pregnancy state. During this period you may experience:
- Uterine contractions: also called “after pains”, they occur during the first few days after delivery leading to rapid shrinking of the uterus and helping the lochia to get expelled.
- Sore muscles or strains: this usually happens from the hard work during labor and childbirth. It should dissipate within a few days.
- Vaginal or episiotomy soreness: usually depends on the extend of the laceration or trauma to the area. Most women are able to sit down or do their day to day activities within the first week.
- Incisional pain from the cesarean section: it usually needs pain medications for the 1st post-operative week and goes away gradually over 2-4 weeks.
Good hygiene of the perineum and the incisions is necessary for good healing. Clear instructions will be give to you by us on this matter.
Most importantly this is a time when apart from the recovery of your body from childbirth, you have to cope with the increased responsibilities that come with being a new parent.
Assistance from your partner, family member and friends is always helpful.
Post-Partum Blues/ Depression
The postpartum blues is a common transient condition that affects 75-80% of mothers shortly after birth and presents with a wide variety of symptoms which generally involve periods of sadness, crying easily, insomnia, irritability and mood swings. It is considered normal and usually goes away within the first few weeks.
In the case of postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe (such as suicidal and intrusive thoughts and inability to take care of the newborn) and usually lasts longer. It is less common, approx. 10% of the mothers will experience it and usually needs help from a specialist to get over it.
The postpartum period is a very intensive period for the new mom. A period where while she recovers from childbirth, she has to take care of her baby and adjust to her new role as a parent and deal with the changes in her relationship with her partner.
The new mother will need all the assistance she can get from her partner, family and friends. Talking to them, avoiding staying at home for days, going for a walk with the baby are all helpful practices. Also having some baby free time is very helpful for a lot of mothers.
If symptoms persists then you might need some help from a psychologist to overcome the depression. It is always good to mention these feelings to us and we will direct you.
Breastfeeding is the best way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for a healthy growth and development and at Athens Reproduction we encourage women to breastfeed. It is a customized diet for your baby, which apart from all the nutrients, provides antibodies to the baby that will protect it against viral and bacterial infections.
Breastfeeding also builds an emotional bonding between the mother and the baby.
Don’t expect your baby to start feeding properly immediately. Initially the breast produces only a few ml of concentrated milk (colostrum). The milk production usually starts on the 3rd day postpartum. Also the newborn has to learn how to perform efficient suckling movements.
Virtually all mothers can breastfeed if they really want to, have the right support from family, the health system and are well informed.