Lochia, period and ice pads
We call our friends at Numa to talk to midwife Ebba Åback. We have collected questions from our customers about the time after childbirth with a focus on lochia and periods. Here Ebba gives you answers to everything you wondered!
What exactly is lochia? Do you get lochia regardless of whether you give birth vaginally or by cesarean section?
- Lochia is blood from the vagina after childbirth. The blood comes from a wound in the uterus where the placenta sat and is not affected by the method of delivery. The vaginal discharge (lochia) is generally about 6-8 weeks.
Does breastfeeding have any effect on how long you have lochia?
- When breastfeeding, a hormone called Oxytocin is secreted which helps the uterus to contract. For women who are breastfeeding, the healing of the wound in the uterus is accelerated by the contraction of the uterus! So the healing goes a little faster for women who are breastfeeding and the bleeding can therefore last for a shorter time.
How long does it usually take until you get your period back after giving birth? Does it make a difference if you breastfeed or not?
- It is individual when the period returns. During the first six months, ovulation (and by that also the period) can be completely inhibited if you breastfeed full-time. That is, if the child receives nothing else, it is breast milk and breastfeeds the whole day. But the most common is that the period returns within 6 months. If you don't breastfeed, your period usually returns around 6-8 weeks after giving birth.
I feel that my periods have become more abundant and my period pains are stronger after I have given birth. Is it common?
- Yes, some people find that their periods can change after giving birth. Some studies show that 30% of women experience periods of increased menstruation. But for most women, menstruation returns to normal after childbirth.
What is happening in the body, and why is the period affected by pregnancy/childbirth for some?
- Period can be more abundant after pregnancy as the uterus after pregnancy and childbirth is larger. Especially if you don't breastfeed or partially breastfeed and get your period back quickly.
But there can also be other reasons for profuse bleeding such as muscle knots (myomas) in the uterus. If after giving birth you have heavier periods than before, more protracted periods and you have to change protection much more often, the recommendation is to see a gynecologist. The gynecologist can then examine whether there is a specific cause for the bleeding and you can get help if your bleeding is troublesome.
I have heard of ice pads, that can be comfortable after delivery. Is it just to put a bandage in the freezer, or should it be prepared in some way?
- You make an ice pad by rinsing a cloth pad or regular pad with water so that it becomes soaked, put it in a small storage bag/freezer bag, and then put it in the freezer for a few hours. If you feel swollen in the abdomen after giving birth, you can then put the pad in your panties. The cold has a pain-relieving and decongestant effect. Make sure not to wear the pad in your panties for too long, max 15-20 min, to avoid frostbite.
Thank you so much Ebba for letting us talk to you! And thanks to Numa – the care app for those who have given birth.