Straight after the birth, you can expect to bleed for a few weeks (possibly as long as ten or 12 weeks but sometimes as little as two weeks), while your uterus recovers. This bleeding is called 'lochia'.
If you have a caesarian, you may find the bleeding goes on for longer.
Do not use tampons during this time, but sanitary towels.
When the bleeding gets heavier after lightening
After a while, you should find your bleeding tails off or is consistently light for a few days or even weeks. Sometimes however, it will get heavier again for a time. In some cases, a woman will find the bleeding is pretty light for the first couple of weeks after the birth, but then it gets heavier. This can seem alarming as you would expect it to get even lighter, but it is not neccessarily anything to worry about.
It can be triggered by an increase in strenuous activity, so take this heavier bleeding as a prompt to rest up.
If you consciously return to a slower pace, you should see the bleeding lightening again.
When to call your GP
There should be no cause for alarm through the weeks when you are bleeding. If you are still bleeding at six weeks, make sure you discuss the bleeding when you go for your GP check-up. (If your surgery does not contact you with this appointment, make sure you book yourself in to see your GP at this time, as the six-week check-up is an important post-natal landmark to gauge how a mother's health is doing.)
If you find that your bleeding gets heavier after it was tailing off, and it does not lighten again after you have rested up, speak to your GP (or the midwife team if you are still under their care).
Bleeding with clots or tissue in it, odourous clots, a raised temperature, or extreme fatigue are not normal and should any of these symptoms also occur, do see your GP as soon as you can.
For information about when to expect your regular menstrual periods to start again, go to our Periods after Birth article.