After the delivery of a baby, a woman experiences three types of lochia discharge, including lochia rubra, lochia serosa and lochia alba, listed in order of occurrence. Lochia flow is a natural bodily process that rids the uterus of any debris and bacteria remaining after delivery. This process may last up to 6 weeks postpartum.
The first stage of the lochia flow process is lochia rubra, a distinctly blood-tinged vaginal discharge, similar to a heavy menstrual period. It lasts up to 4 days postpartum. The second stage is lochia serosa, a pinkish brown, watery discharge lasting up to 10 days after delivery. Lochia serosa consists of mostly white blood cells and other cells from the uterine lining. The final stage of the process is lochia alba, a yellowish or white vaginal discharge that can last four to 6 weeks after a newborn delivery.
A postpartum woman should be aware of important facts about lochia flow . Lochia discharge that has a foul-smell or is green in color may indicate infection, and should be checked by a doctor. An increase in lochia flow is slightly heavier after breastfeeding; however, an increase in flow may also indicate a retained placenta or a patient who is not getting enough rest after delivery. If bleeding is abnormally heavy or blood clots are bigger than a golf ball, a woman should seek medical attention immediately, as this can indicate a hemorrhage.