The truth about postnatal bleeding

Like many mums-to-be, when I was pregnant with my first child I read lots of pregnancy and birth books and magazines.

I used to like to read about each stage of the pregnancy and learn about what my baby was doing during that time. I also read a lot about birth, but in relation to postnatal bleeding, I only ever recall reading that I would “bleed after the birth, like a heavy period”. I also recall reading that tampons could not be used during this time and that the bleeding may continue for a few weeks after birth.

I packed what I thought were plenty of maternity towels in my hospital bag but was certainly not prepared for what followed.

  • Nowhere had I read that when I climbed off the bed I had given birth on it would look like a massacre had taken place;
  • Nowhere did I read that when I had my first shower after giving birth, the shower tray could be ankle deep in blood;
  • Nowhere had I read that when I did my first wee in the cardboard commode after giving birth, would it look like blood minus the wee.

I was not prepared for any of that.


Now obviously one person’s blood loss is different from the next, but some sort of indication that it was a possibility would have been useful.

  • At no point was I warned that when I left hospital and my activity increased so could my blood flow;
  • At no point did anyone think to mention that one large maternity pad is likely not to be enough, but if you put one in lengthways and one sideways you can better avoid leaks;
  • At no point did I think that after six weeks I would still be bleeding.

Thanks to a friend who had a water birth I was slightly better prepared for my second birth when it came around.

It was going to be different than birthing on dry land, I knew that.

  • The water will quickly turn red;
  • You have to get out to birth the placenta;
  • When you lie on the bed and look back you will see a red pool and a set of bloody footprints from the pool to the bed.

My third birth went pretty much the way of the first so there were no great surprises as far as blood loss went, but I did sort of say to myself that I had forgotten how much blood was involved.

My fourth birth was a total shocker as the blood loss was the largest of all the births.

  • Nowhere did I read that at eight weeks postpartum I could bleed heavily for three days and then not for three days – I was not prepared for that.

What were you not prepared for?

Mums' Days

25 comments on 'The truth about postnatal bleeding'

  • ihad a normal birth with my first but a section with my second. I was not prepared for the leading to be just as bad after a section, if not worse and that my body is still not back to normal after 12 weeks.
    Oh and a little cough can cause you to give birth to massive clots

  • Yes! Midwives should definitely be more vocal about this! My first baby was a summer baby and my bleeding slowed enough for me to wear regular sanitary pads by week 2… but then I didn’t stop bleeding for 4 weeks and I got what can only be described as nappy rash which was unpleasant and painful! I had a second baby 2 weeks ago and have been bleeding on and off, but it is lighter over all which was a surprising relief!

  • This post needed to be written. You are so right. I was not prepared at all for the bleeding after my c-section. It freaked me out a lot! #twinklytuesdays x

  • Why does nobody ever prepare us Mums for the bleeding. I’m sure it wouldn’t put anybody off.
    What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount of bleeding after my section. After having had 2 vaginal deliveries, I always assumed a section would entail less blood loss. How wrong was I!

  • Ooh, I needed to read that bit about water births. That’s what I am planning this time but my midwife hasn’t mentioned anything about having to get out to deliver the placenta. Thanks for the heads-up!! #thelist x

    • I hope you get one. I wanted all four like that but sadly it was only possible with one of them :( – enjoy the experience and at least now you know what to expect. Good luck x

  • It’s weird isn’t it?? Why doesn’t anyone tell you this? I was really stunned, as I had a planned section with my twins, and had just not expected to see that blood when I had my first wee afterwards!!! Buckets of blood!

    To say I was taken aback was an understatement — but not as much as my poor boy. I couldn’t sit down on the loo so my lovely husband was holding the cardboard bowl underneath me!! Not sure who was most shocked!! 😉
    Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro |

  • The blood clots!

    No one EVER tells you that passing a blood clot the size of your fist is perfectly normal.

    i thought I was having some major bleed out and pressed the emergency bell for the nurses…. who looked at me like I’d lost the plot.

    • I bet you did – no one every says that you are right there. That look people give you as if you are thick for not knowing something is awful too. Thanks for reading :)

  • Wow, that was a lot of blood talk (as you’d expect!) – sorry this happened lovely xx I’m trying to think what I didn’t expect…probably for the stitching up to be so painful! You’d expect to be numb after all that but no!

    thanks for linking up xx #Thelist

  • I agree. I lost a lot of blood during childbirth and continued to bleed for about 6 weeks. I wasn’t prepared for the colour of the blood either, but the placenta is a purply/pinky colour – that was a bit disturbing to have lumps of that come out a week or so later. A period seems like nothing these days. xx

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