Parenting tip

Blood loss, or lochia to give it its medical name, usually lasts between two to six weeks and can vary in colour throughout that time.

A guide to blood loss after birth

It's normal for women to experience some blood loss after birth. Here we outline what to expect in the first few weeks.

After birth, most women will experience some blood loss from their uterus (womb) until the lining is renewed. This blood loss, or lochia to give it its medical name, usually lasts between two to six weeks and can vary in colour throughout that time. Read more about the causes of blood loss here.

Below we outline what blood loss you might experience but, as always, if you are concerned or unsure about anything, speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP. Take a look at our article here to find out more about when blood loss might be a concern.

Day 1 after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: A fresh red or browny-red blood loss.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: Quite a heavy loss, soaking a maternity pad every few hours. You may pass one or two quite large clots (the size of a small orange) or a number of smaller ones (about the size of a grape). This is not unusual, but it is a good idea to show them to your midwife.

Days 2-6 after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: The loss should go a darker-red or a browny or pinky-red.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: You might still pass a few clots but these should be small (less than the size of a grape). Initially, the blood loss makes a 3-5 inch (7-12cm) stain on the pad. The loss should then lessen towards day six, down to perhaps a 2 inch (5cm) stain.

Day 7-10 after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: Staying the same colour or getting a lighter shade of the browny or pinky-red.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: If you are breastfeeding, you might have a small fresh loss at the end of a feed. Although lessening in general, blood loss can still be variable. Most often the stain will be less than 3 inches (7cm), although this may increase with activity, such as walking up stairs, and the pad will not be not soaked at any time.

Days 11-14 after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: Staying the same colour or getting lighter. If you are becoming to be more active, the colour may be more pinky-red than before.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: The amount will continue to lessen and some pads will barely stain, although as before, increased activity may lead to greater staining.

Weeks 3 and 4 after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: If loss is still present, a browny-pinky colour or paler, possibly a creamy-white colour at times.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: Continuing to get less with longer periods of very little or no loss at all. If the loss stopped by the second or third week and then you have a red loss again, this might be your first period if you are not breastfeeding. 

Around 6 weeks after the birth

Normal ranges of colour of vaginal blood loss: Continuing along the same colour pattern as before, more likely to be a small or occasional loss of browny or pinky-red or a creamy-yellow colour.

Normal ranges for the amount of vaginal blood loss: You may still have a blood loss, either all the time or some days only. If you are concerned, ask for advice when you have postnatal check-up at around six weeks.

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.

Further healthcare information related to this topic can be found by visiting the MIDIRS website for consumers, or the MIDIRS website for healthcare professionals.