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Is Vaginal Discharge After Giving Birth Normal?

Medically reviewed by Erika Rellora, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 02, 2022

    Is Vaginal Discharge After Giving Birth Normal?

    Yes, this is normal. Doctors explain that after giving birth, doctors often explain to mothers that they will experience some level of vaginal bleeding with mucus, uterine tissues, and other uterine materials. This discharge is called lochia, and it’s a normal part of the postpartum period. Still, since hemorrhage or excessive bleeding is a risk after childbirth, a woman has to know when their lochia is normal and when it already requires medical attention. Here are the characteristics of normal vaginal discharge after giving birth. 

    1. Lochia lasts for about 6 weeks after childbirth

    Usually, the vaginal discharge following childbirth lasts for about 6 weeks. However, please note that the discharge changes in color and consistency. 

    Hence, if your discharge lasts longer than 6 weeks, it’s best to consult your doctor. The same is true if the color or consistency does not conform to what typically takes place on a particular stage. 

    2. The discharge changes over time

    You can take note of these changes in color and consistency by identifying the 3 stages of lochia:

    Lochia Rubra. The flow is commonly heavy, but not to the point where you need to use one sanitary pad in less than an hour. The color of the discharge is dark or bright red. You may also find small blood clots (but should be no bigger than a plum). This stage can last for up to 4 days. 

    Lochia Serosa. The flow is moderate and the discharge has a seemingly watery consistency; hence blood color is somewhat pinkish brown. You may still find some blood clots, but they are considerably smaller or fewer than those found in Lochia Rubra. This stage can last for up to 12 days. 

    Lochia Alba. The flow is light to the point where you can only see some spotting. At this point, there is only yellowish white discharge with little to no blood. This stage doesn’t have clots and can last for up to 6 weeks. 

    3. Discomfort is normal initially

    Another thing that’s normal is discomfort or pain. According to experts, during the lochia rubra stage, the woman may have period-like cramping. 

    If the pain persists after this phase or it goes way beyond period-like cramping, it’s best to visit your doctor as soon as possible. 

    4. It’s normal for the discharge to smell

    Don’t be alarmed if your vaginal discharge smells. Remember that besides blood, it also has amniotic fluid, uterine lining, leftover fetal membrane, cervical mucus, and microorganisms. 

    However, note that the smell resembles menstrual period smell. If you notice foul or fishy odor, please get in touch with your doctor. It may be indicative of an infection. 

    5. Your lochia may get worse with some activities

    Some activities can affect the characteristics of postpartum vaginal discharge. Reports say the following can make lochia a little “worse,” meaning heavier in flow:

    • Getting up in the morning
    • Breastfeeding
    • Performing physical activities

    Vaginal discharge after giving birth is different for every woman. Hence, don’t worry too much if a friend or acquaintance reports a different experience. 

    6. Lochia is still present even if you had CS

    Another thing to keep in mind is that vaginal discharge will still be present even if you delivered your baby via C-section. Reports you will probably have less lochia after 24 hours compared to when you give birth vaginally. 

    The Next Steps

    Knowing about the normal characteristics of lochia is essential so you can immediately intervene if something goes wrong. Here’s a recap of the signs you have to watch out for involving postpartum vaginal discharge:

  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Large blood clots (golf-ball size)
  • Fishy or foul-smelling discharge
  • Severe cramping or pain 
  • If you notice these signs, as well as other symptoms that may be indicative of a problem (fever, weakness, increased heart rate, etc.), please go to the hospital for assessment and treatment. 

    Learn more about Labor and Delivery here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Erika Rellora, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 02, 2022

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