Time again for another round of period-related information… or maybe rather, it’s not exactly menstruation, but you may call it a “related-topic.” Today’s topic is on post-pregnancy. This is probably one of the topics that I do not have a large knowledge-base on, however, I always try to do research before making a post, so I hope this information will be accurate and informative. As usual, if there are any mistakes or considerations you would like me to make for this post, please let me know!
After child-birth, it is especially important for men to become involved in your partner’s health. After all, pregnancy is a very body-intensive process and therefore, you should definitely be a man and spoil your girl as if there’s no tomorrow. After all, the creation of this baby should be a testament to your loving relationship and your child is a production of your commitment to each other for life. Holy, do I sound like an old fart with an old mentality or what?! Of course for us flow-lovers, what joy is there to hope that your partner’s period returns soon as we’ve been missing the fun of it for 9 months already! (Although I doubt your partner misses it, lol) – Following pregnancy, resuming regular periods are a mystery for every woman.
It’s important for men to understand that after a normal delivery of a child, your partner will go through post-natal bleeding (or discharge) known as Lochia. Lochia generally lasts for 3 to 6 weeks and contains mucus, blood and placental tissue. There are 3 stages of lochia, each respective stage with a corresponding medical-name. Following 3 to 5 days after childbirth, your partner will go through Lochia rubra (cruenta) typically red to brownish-red due to the large amount of blood being expelled (expect heavy-flow) and contains a “fleshy odour.” After lochia rubra has taken place and up to approximately the 10th day post-delivery, she will undergo Lochia serosa where thinning of lochia occurs and where it usually becomes brownish or pink and is lochia flow is lessened compared to before. Finally for the remainder of discharge turns to a whitish or yellow-white colour lasting anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks post-delivery referred to as Lochia alba (purulenta).
During this time, it is advisable to use maternity pads to deal with lochia as post-natal bleeding is generally a lot more than your average menstrual period. The first 6 to 12 hours after delivery is generally when most women expect the heaviest lochia discharge but it’s hard to say how often a woman will need to change her pad as the lochia flow is change based on the “phase” it is at, physical movement/position and bodily changes. At first, most women should expect to change their pad at least once every 1-2 hours and later, every 3-4 hours as lochia lessens – similar to managing ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ flow days of her regular period. In general, maternity pads are longer, softer, thicker and thus, more absorbent than the common maxi pad. Most maxi pads will not stand up well against lochia flow, therefore it is suggested that you purchase (or expect to purchase) 2-3 packs of “12’s” which should last for the duration of the heavier lochia discharge days.
In general, lochia should have the same odour as regular menstrual flow. If there is a foul or offensive smell from the lochia, the best practice would be to contact your medical professional as it may indicate a vaginal contamination. This contamination by organisms (thus the smell) may result in lochioschesis (spelled lochiostasis by some) which is the retention of lochia that should normally be expelled from the body.
For convenience, you may also want to buy disposable panties for the first 2 weeks post-pregnancy as leaks may occur frequently and certainly you would not want to stain both of your favourite panties! Using well-fitting underwear is important as maternity pads require a large area on the crotch to support it. It is horribly uncomfortable and embarrassing to wear small, tight panties while harbouring a gigantic pad underneath! This is especially important if your partner has required stitches or undergone bruising to use comfortable-fitting underwear. By the end of the first and second week, it is likely your partner will be able to return using common maxi pads so maternity pads are no longer required.
As you may have noticed (sorry to the guys n’ girls who love them :|) that I have made no mention of tampons for lochia. Most medical practiontioners recommend that women do not use tampons while lochia is still present or flowing. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, the female anatomy is a beautiful and wonderful thing (much more exciting than us guy’s, har har). After pregnancy, the female body goes into a state of of involution where the uterus attempts to return to its pre-pregnancy size and condition. This process is to ensure that (under normal circumstances) allow pregnancy to occur again and thus an intricate process occurs which results in the above mentioned, lochia. During the first 6-8 weeks after delivery, consider the uterus as a recovering wound and therefore using tampons may introduce foreign bacteria into the reproductive system, heightening the risk of infection. It is suggested that resuming tampon use not be done until a postnatal check-up is performed and receiving the OK from your medical practitioner – after all, they are the experts and will know whether your body is prepared to have a tampon inserted.
It is normal for your partner to not have irregular or absent menstrual periods for a while after pregnancy. Other than your partner’s body to return regular menstrual activities, carrying out breastfeeding may interrupt the menstrual-cycle to return to normal. Breastfeeding may interfere with the ovulation process, thereby causing periods to be irregular or completely missing. Even for women who resume their normal menstrual cycle will experience more unusual period patterns which is pretty typical and there should be an expectation of heavier flow, more pain/discomfort and more lethargic than usual. Now’s the time to show some love to your woman who have spent 9 months bearing your beautiful child (or children)!!!
As a general guideline, your partner should expect to resume her regular menstrual-cycle within 9 months post-delivery. Many women do not go through regular menstruation until they cease to breastfeed. Apparently this is your body’s attempt to disallow conception of another child while your just-born child is still in his/her infancy – however, this is not to say that this is the case for ALL women. In fact, I must make a note that it does not mean your partner cannot get pregnant soon post-delivery! A lot of people make the assumption that if their partner does not show signs of menstruation that equates to a period (haha, what a great pun) of infertility. Oddly enough, your partner may actually be even more fertile than when she becomes “regular” again. You and your partner should both be aware that unprotected sex may lead to another pregnancy (if that’s not your plan). Necessary precautions should be taken if pregnancy is not your intent and the use of a condom with spermicide is recommended. Birth control or other hormonal-altering drug should not be used at this time, unless specifically authorized by a health professional. On that note, my Dad and his younger brother is only apart by 9 months and few days – so it’s quite possible to get pregnancy VERY SOON after delivery!
Here are some cases where you should contact your medical practitioner or emergency assistance immediately if your partner experiences:
- lochia has an unpleasant smell
- fever and/or chills
- bleeding stays heavy and bright red after the first week
- feel faint or dizzy
- heartbeat starts to race or become irregular
- soaking through a pad more than once per hour
- large clots (> 28mm)
- tummy feels tender low down on one or both sides
So there you guys go, hopefully this will give you some menstrual facts post-pregnancy! It’s such an exciting time so enjoy it. Think about how great it is to see your partner have to put on a pad or tampon again 😛 Hrm… maybe I’m having that flow-loving side in me kick in again! If you’re reading this for your partner, then I want to congratulate you on the new life you’ve brought to this world! I’m sure he/she really appreciates it 🙂