Lochia is the term given to the blood loss after having a baby. It is a combination of blood from the placental site, amniotic fluid and mucous. For the majority of women or birthing people, the postnatal bleeding can last up to six weeks, with the majority of women having scanty and minimal loss around the 4-5 week mark.
How many pads will I need?
- In the first few days, you will require around 8-10 pads, changing every 2-3 hours both for comfort, and hygiene and to reduce the chances of infection.
- Around day 5, this will lessen to around 4-5 hours for the majority of women.
- By around day 10-14 the majority of women will have decreased the size and thickness of their pads and be changing less frequently at around 6-8 hours.
It is really important that even though the lochia volume is reducing, to continue changing pads frequently and never leave more than 6-8 hours for pads to remain in place. After two weeks, most women find that thin liners are all that is required or period pants for the scanty loss remaining.
Clots can be normal – particularly after sleeping for a while, the blood will naturally congeal and clot. However, if at any stage you find you have clots larger than £2 coin or small satsuma, offensive, smelly blood loss or saturating maternity pads in under 1-2 hours, then an urgent call to your midwifery team is needed.
Infection is the most common complication after having a baby after both a vaginal or caesarean birth. In order to minimise infection, it is really important to have good hand hygiene and wash your hands both before touching your pads but also after changing your pads.
Reusable pads provide breathability in comparison to plastic, single-use sanitary wear but will need to be washed both before and after use.
Changing pads frequently is really important to minimise infection, along with daily showers. Any stitches should be checked by your midwives within the first 24 hours, but also in the first ten days or sooner if you have any pain or discomfort.
Choosing reusable period wear for postpartum
I have personally chosen a combination of period pants and reusable pads for postnatal. The average woman will use around 130-150 pads postpartum compared to 20 reusable pads or pants washing every other day (of which can all be reused for periods later on providing both financially economical but also eco-friendly options in reducing both carbon footprint and plastic waste).
I found I leaked with single-use maternity pads through underwear and onto my pyjamas first time round, so have opted for period pants for additional absorbency in case of any leaks. Leaks happen due to the heavier flow of lochia, particularly in the first few days so double protection can be really beneficial.
My Favourite Period Pants Brands
- Flux boyshorts – these are really comfortable for periods and have great absorbency at around 20mls for period pants, but are on the higher end of the price range.
- Wuka and Cheeky period pants are great from an economical perspective.
- All of these pants will last for 2-3 years on average and it’s something I find really comfortable when I am on my period.
My Favourite Post Partum Pants
In total, I have 12 heavy pads for initial postpartum use and various slimmer period pads that I have used for my periods over the last two years to top up and transition as the flow and volume of lochia decreases. The pads I use are:
- Eco Rainbow 13 inch postpartum pad which is ideal for the very first pad to use postnatally. This is one of the biggest pads and most absorbent pads in my hospital bag – it is huge and perfect for the immediate postnatal blood loss which is usually the heaviest.
- Bloom and Nora heavy
- Charlie Banana Stay Dry Super Plus (which comes in a set of four for nighttime use and is incredible value)
- La Petit Ourse Night Time Pads.
- Bare and Boho is the slimmest of any period pad I’ve ever tried and still most absorbent. I also have a few of their night time pads for when the flow of lochia decreases.
I have bought all my pads from The Period lady (also known as The Nappy Lady, as she’s an expert in reusable nappies too!) who offers an advice service to be able to help you decide which products are right for you. Check out her article about reusable sanitary wear here on bloss, which can give you more information.