We talk openly about a lot of things these days, but anything to do with our lady gardens is still kept pretty quiet.
As teenagers we jokingly called sanitary pads surfboards. So, I wasn’t surprised years later at my first antenatal class when the midwife held up a maternity pads and told us to make sure we pack loads of “surfboards” in our hospital bag. I wondered, how many are loads? Everyone in the class looked nervous…what were we in for at the birth, and why hadn’t anyone ever mentioned this before?
The next week while shopping I threw a pack of maternity pads in my shopping basket. It was a pack of twelve…I thought, “That will be loads”. My sister, who was with me, laughed and threw in another three packets. She told me that after her baby was born she bled for six weeks. I’m not sure how I got this far into my pregnancy (or life, for that matter) before Learning that not only would I bleed so heavily that I would need loads of “surfboards” in my undies, but that it would go on for six weeks!
So, I soon learned that the bleeding after birth is called lochia, and it will happen whether you have a vaginal birth or a cesarean section birth. Lochia is made up of blood, mucus and uterine tissue. The blood mostly comes from the place the placenta was attached to and can last anywhere from two to six weeks.
The amount of blood at the beginning can be surprising, especially if it is your first baby. In the beginning, lochia is usually bright red, may be heavy, and sometimes has clots. After the first few days, the blood will change to a lighter pink color and have a more watery consistency; by the second or third week, the blood should change to more of a brown color.
Initially, you may need to change your maternity pad every 1–2 hours, but this will soon reduce to every 3–4 hours over the following two days, and over the following weeks as it reduces further you will be able to use normal pads and then panty liners.
Also good to know is that if you are breastfeeding, your body will release a hormone called oxytocin while your baby feeds, and the bleeding will be heavier at this time and straight afterward.
This is because oxytocin makes your uterus contract, pushing the lochia out more. So, having super absorbent pads is really important. Knowing you’ve got things covered will help you relax more, and give you the head-space to enjoy your baby more. While you may prefer to use tampons when you have your period, it is not recommended straight after giving birth – your body needs time to heal and using a tampon increases your chances of an infection. Wait until at least your first normal period before using tampons.
Pads have really come a long way since I was a teenager – they are so much softer, more flexible and are contoured now. So much more comfortable and not ‘surfboardy’ at all!! And, maternity pads especially are softer, longer and much more absorbent. Wonder Maternity Pads also have the fabulous added feature of double wings for leakage protection and extra security which is great for heavy post-natal flow. Relax with Wonder and enjoy the wonders of your beautiful baby.