Lochia is the vaginal discharge that occurs during the postpartum period. It consists of blood, tissue, and bacteria from the uterine lining.
Both vaginal and c-section mothers will eject lochia sometime after delivery. This type of discharge is entirely healthy and is no cause for concern.
What is lochia?
After delivering a baby and placenta, a new mother’s uterus begins to constrict and relax to clear any residual blood and tissues. The constriction causes lochia discharge, which can occur up until the 10th day after giving birth. During the first few days, you might notice some darker lochia that becomes lighter over time. The color will eventually transition to normal, yellowish discharge, which will go away by 8 weeks postpartum.
What does healthy lochia look like?
During the first two days, you’ll eject a large amount of lochia. Most mothers may feel the need to change sanitary pads almost every hour during the day. The amount of discharge will gradually decrease as time passes. Some mothers find that they eject more lochia upon waking from a nap or while breastfeeding. Healthy discharge should also have a light, fishy odor that isn’t too overpowering. If you notice that your lochia is green or bright, bloody red, contact your doctor as you may have endometritis or a hemorrhage.
Is there any remedy for lochia to diminish quickly?
Usually, lochia will diminish by itself through the body’s natural mechanisms. Nevertheless, many Thai people still believe that if all the lochia does not come out, then the uterus will not settle back to its stable functions, and therefore cause the mother to get sick quickly in the future. That is why they choose to use alternative medicine, such as Yu-fai (body warming using heat/fire) or taking herbal medicine for discharging lochia.
Are herbal medicines helping discharge lochia safe?
In Asia, many Asian cultures believe that lochia is contaminated blood. So herbal medication is widely used as alternative postpartum care to help the body get rid of it. However, scientific evidence has shown that the human body can completely eliminate lochia naturally. So accelerating the process with medication is unnecessary. And some medicines are deemed unsafe for mothers.
There are cases where these types of medications have caused a hemorrhage. Moreover, these herbs usually contain alcohol as a vital ingredient, contaminating breast milk later on.
Mothers shouldn’t be worried about lochia because it is a natural condition for all women in the postpartum period. However, mothers with doubts and concerns should still consult with their doctors for peace of mind.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (31 March 2021)
- The Association between Traditional Chinese Dietary and Herbal Therapies and Uterine Involution in Postpartum Women, NCBI
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