Congratulations! You’ve just had a baby! It’s a wonderful, life changing event. However, you’ll soon discover it to be a messy one as well. All those weeks your body prepared for and grew your baby, the amount of blood in your body increased up to 50%. After the birth, you are going to be losing a lot of blood you no longer need. It’s all part of a natural process as your body heals after giving birth.
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The medical term for postpartum blood loss is called lochia. All the blood your body used to support the baby’s growth must now be shed. While it may be a natural process, it’s going to be messy and annoying as well. It’s important to choose the right kind of postpartum pad for your comfort and leak protection.
Postpartum blood loss can be like the heaviest period you’ve ever had. Your flow will be heavy for days or possibly weeks. You can expect up to six weeks of blood flow – at first heavy and then reducing as weeks go by.
Your uterus will be tender and bleed constantly. Just consider this: the placenta was attached in the uterus. Now that the placenta is gone, your body is left with a deep wound that needs to heal. This is where the blood, mucus, and tissue come from. It’s normal, but not fun. Postpartum might also mean hair loss for you.
What to Expect
So, what can you expect from the postpartum period? Bleeding – lots of bleeding.
From those first moments after delivery up to ten days, the blood will be bright red in color. As your body heals and the bleeding wanes, it will fade to a pinkish, eventually brownish color.
Pay attention to your blood flow. It is perfectly normal to soak a pad an hour (or more) during those first days. Some people change their pads every sixty to ninety minutes – especially at first. If, however, the blood flow seems too extreme and you are soaking more than one pad per hour, contact your doctor.
Cramps are normal. They’re your body’s way of preventing the wound from bleeding too much. However, if you have constant, abnormal cramps, it’s wise to contact your doctor at once.
Blood clots are also normal. Even clots the size of golf balls can be normal. Your body has a lot to discharge and some of it may come out in clots. If the clots seem too large and you are soaking more than one pad an hour, call your doctor so that postpartum hemorrhage can be ruled out. You know your body best.
It’s also normal to have a big ‘rush’ of blood flow on standing or moving around a lot. The blood pools in your body while resting and may gush out when you change position. Again, nothing to worry about.
Healing Process Tips
The first six weeks after delivery are an important recovery period. Your body has been through a big change and needs a chance to get back to normal. Like any recovery period, it can be painful, irritating, and may seem like you’ll never get back to the way you were. But, if you take things slow and don’t rush the process, before long you’ll feel like yourself again.
Here are a few tips to make the healing process easier.
- Eat well! This isn’t the time to indulge in a lot of junk food and empty calories. Eat fresh, whole food, healthy grains, complex carbs, and protein.
- Drink lots of water! Aim for eight glasses or up to 64 ounces per day. Try to avoid alcohol or caffeine. Both can mess with your moods, thin your blood, make it hard for you to sleep, and often lead to depression. Drinking plenty of water can also flush out toxins from your body.
- If you are eating and drinking well, it will help keep you “regular.” Constipation is often an annoying, even painful side-effect and you want to get “moving” again as soon as possible. Don’t strain to force a bowel movement! This is bad for both perineal tears or C-section scars. Eat fiber rich foods – whole grains, fruits and veggies. Keep moving by walking. A gentle stool softener can’t hurt either and will help keep you regular.
- During this period, don’t use tampons or take soapy baths. It’s important to keep things out of the vagina until healing is complete. If you notice a nasty smell coming from your vagina, contact your doctor. Keep this area clean by using plain water.
- Another important tip is to use a good postpartum pad. You’ll want to change your pads frequently, as many as two to three times per day. The first day after delivery you may be changing post birth pads as much as once an hour. (If you are a particularly heavy bleeder, this amount could be more. Just make sure you are aware of the amount of bleeding that occurs. Soaking more than one pad per hour is too extreme. It may mean you need medical attention. Just be aware of what your body is doing.)
When to Begin Using Postpartum Pads
When to begin using post birth postpartum pads? Immediately after the birth. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean delivery, trust me, you’re going to need a postpartum pad or maternity pad. As soon as you can get up and walk to the bathroom following the delivery of baby, you’re going to need to use these pads.
Your body will be having a lot of discharge right away. Keep that in mind when you prepare for the birth. You may want to consider having old, cotton underwear on standby to use with the pads. No matter what type of pad you choose, staining can and probably will occur. Having a great postpartum pad will help to keep leaks from staining your underwear or sheets.
Number of Pads You Need
The number of postpartum pads you need may vary according to each woman. A general number is to begin with at least two packs of ten to twelve pads each. Have these ready to take with you to the hospital.
The number of maxi pads for postpartum you need will vary on how often you change pads and how much blood flow you have. So, there’s no way to determine the exact amount. A general rule to follow is to expect to use roughly around one hundred pads in those first heavy weeks.
Features to Consider in a Postpartum Pad
What should you look for in a good postpartum pad? The key words are absorption, size, and comfort.
Absorption may be the biggest quality to look for when choosing a pad. You’re going to be dealing with a lot of discharge. Look for a pad that can deal with a mega-period and keep you from having stains and leaks. The better they absorb, the less irritation and changing for you.
The thicker the pad, the better absorption qualities it will have.
This will be a personal preference, but choose a postpartum pad that is big enough to do the job.
You’ll want something with enough space to absorb your flow, but not so wide it makes it difficult to walk.
You may want to experiment beforehand with a few postpartum pads to see how well they work. Ask your friends or family what they chose. Size will also affect the comfort level of the pads.
Your body has been through a lot! Just like a postpartum girdle, you want lots of support and comfort. Pamper yourself by buying the softest and most comfortable postpartum pad you can afford. Any pad you choose needs to allow you to move freely. Pads with wings are often a wise choice, too. They stay in place better, while protecting against stains and leaks.
You can choose between disposable or reusable pads. While reusable will feel softer against your sore skin, you should weigh in the added chore of washing them. Disposable may be an easier option, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
You’ve just had a baby! Congratulations! Make your life easier by choosing the best pads for postpartum.