Do you bleed after C section? Is it normal to bleed after C section? Bleeding after a cesarean section is completely normal. During pregnancy, the blood levels rise by about 60 percent to support and supply the growing fetus with nutrients.
After delivery, it is expected that the body rids of this blood. For this reason, there would be heavy bleeding for days, but that should not alarm you unless you have developed other related symptoms.
How long do you bleed after C-section?
How long does bleeding last after a C-section. The red blood after C-section is called lochia. Lochia is normal days after vaginal or C-section delivery.
There will be heavy bleeding during the first days of delivery, but then you will start experiencing bright- red blood as days go by.
After about 12 days, you may notice a small amount of yellow or pinkish discharge.
This is likely to taper off entirely over 5 weeks. Even though each woman‘s body is unique some might bleed for about 2 weeks and others for 6 weeks. In both cases, it is normal as long as the lochia is not foul smelling or heavy.
Signs of internal bleeding after C-section
When should you sense danger and contact a doctor? Because a lot of blood is lost during cesarean section, bleeding internally could be fatal.
It is essential for you to look out for signs of internal bleeding so that you can ask for help as soon as you can. Here are the most common signs of internal bleeding:
1. Cold extremities with pallor
You may become pale if you are bleeding internally; this is because blood is pulled away from the skin into the uterus or abdomen, hence leaving the surfaces of the skin and eyes looking whitish.
The same case applies to your feet and hands. This is why may be feeling cold in the extremities.
2. Heavy vaginal bleeding
After cesarean section, the cervix is often soft, and a bit relaxed. For this reason, it is normal to bleed through the vagina. This is blood from the separated placenta site that eventually escapes your body through the vagina as lochia.
How do you know you are bleeding too much? Heavy bleeding means that you are changing a pad before an hour is over. Again, if you are passing large clots, internal bleeding could be occurring. Call your doctor.
3. Distended uterus
After C-section, the uterus is felt or palpated between the pubic bone and your navel. The uterus then slowly moves into its position after each hour. If palpated after four hours and found to be at a higher level, it could be filling up with blood.
A blue skin color below the navel level may also be a sign of internal bleeding. Because of the abdominal distention, the abdomen is often too hard and painful to touch.
4. Generalized body weakness
If you happen to lose a lot of blood, your body will start feeling weak simply because blood is a nutrient carrier to your body organs. Your heartbeat may increase as a compensatory body mechanism.
Your heartbeat increases because the heart is trying to pump the little blood to all organs so fast, to prevent you from passing out.
5. Vital signs changes
Vital signs indicate your well- being. They include respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate. If you happen to have a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute; there are high chances you could be bleeding.
Also, your blood pressure is likely to drop to less than a systolic of 90milmeters mercury.
- Because of the reduced blood volume, you may have rapid respiration or difficulties in breathing. All this may signal impending danger, call or visit your doctor immediately.
6. Low urine output
When the overall blood flow is reduced due to internal bleeding, the processes of the kidney are restricted. Because of this your urine may be less than 30 millimeters per hour.
If for instance, you have a catheter on, it is important to chart your urine output per hour.
- If for some hours you have low output, inform your doctor immediately to help prevent kidney failure.
Stopped bleeding after C-section but started again
It is normal for bleeding to stop and begin again. After delivery, your body is trying to adjust back to its normal state. Several activities happen in the body and yes, expect on an off bleeding as long as it is in the bracket of 6 weeks, it is normal.
- Call your doctor when you sense something abnormal such as the distended abdomen, headache and excessive expulsion of clots.
Bleeding after C-section smells bad
Your vaginal discharge could smell pretty foul because of the clots and mucus being expelled. However, it is important to know when to go to a doctor concerning a foul-smelling discharge.
If your discharge is brownish or yellowish in color accompanied by fever chills, then you need to visit a doctor you could be having an infection.
The only way to rule out a possibility of an infection is by undergoing tests and examinations.
How to manage yourself at home after cesarean section
Just like in pregnancy, it is essential to take care of yourself after successful delivery of your baby. Here are tips and precautions to take into consideration to help you recover fast:
- Try and get enough sleep. Try and give yourself enough rest
- Walk for some miles each day. You should start with less distance and increase with time. Walking prevents bloating, constipation and blood from clotting and pooling in the uterus.
- Practice the breathing exercises; always hold your pillow over the incision site as you cough to release pressure on the area
- Shower carefully ensuring that you cover the incision area and later on cleaning it as advised by your doctor. Do not leave the incision area wet at any one given time
- Do not engage in strenuous activities such as driving, lifting items and gymnastics
- Do not have sex until your doctor has confirmed proper healing of the incision site.
- Do not use non-prescribed medications such as herbs on the incision site
2. Diet wise
- Drink plenty of water to help clean your urinal system to prevent infections
- Take fiber diet to help prevent constipation since you are not able to move around as before
- Do not eat foods rich in lots of fats. It might lead to vomiting hence putting unnecessary pressure on the abdominal muscles.
3. Incision care and general hygiene
- Do not remove the strips on the incision. It is best to let them fall off themselves.
- Do not clean the incision site with unprescribed solution. Ask your doctor what you can use to clean the incision site at home. Some of over the counter wound cleaning solutions might lead to allergies
- Always keep the area clean and dry. Clean as indicated to prevent bacterial infection.
Other possible complications of C section
Besides bleeding, there are several things that could go wrong after C-section. Here are a few common complications of C-section
1. Adverse reaction to anesthesia
Several medications are used during C-section. If your doctor is not aware of any drug allergies before the operation, a bad reaction may occur.
Your doctor could have a chance to test for allergies if your C-section is planned on time. However, if you happen to go into an emergency surgery, you may have a chance of reacting with some of the drugs.
The good news is that drug reactions are very rare and the symptoms may be noticed before any serious problems occur. The common side effects of the c- section includes:
- Blurred vision
- Back and abdominal pain
- Generalized weakness
- Vomiting and nausea for some time after surgery
- Difficulties in breathing may be experienced for some weeks
Even though some severe reactions are inevitable, it is essential to visit your doctor the moment you experience the above symptoms. Some drug reaction can be reversed using other drugs and dietary measures.
2. Uterine Atony
Normally the uterus goes back to its normal size and positions a few weeks after delivery. In uterine atony, the uterus it remains relaxed, it hardly does contract back.
Bleeding happens continuously when the uterus does not contract or go back to its position.
There are only a few useful drugs that can be used to help the uterus contract. You might not be able to tell of uterine atony unless you have bled for some time.
3. Postpartum infections
Also known as puerperal sepsis, postpartum infection occurs in 14 percent of women who undergo successful cesarean section. The infection starts in the vagina and ascends gradually to the uterus and other reproductive organs.
- The term sepsis refers to an infection that has spread to the whole body.
Infections if noted early can be cured with antibiotics. In case the infection progresses and becomes sepsis it might be harder to treat and therefore fatal.
If you are experiencing difficulties urinating, fevers and chills breast pain and tenderness, you should visit your doctor immediately. You could be having an infection. Timely treatment helps stop the spread of the infection.
4. Incision site infection
About 8 percent of women, who have undergone cesarean section, develop wound infection. The incision site could be infected by bacteria and virus from the environment.
Additionally, if the wound is not cleaned and dressed as indicated, bacteria might invade and cause infection.
- The first sign of incision site infection is abdominal pain followed by a watery or foul-smelling discharge from the site.
- The discharge could be pus or dark- red smelly blood.
If you happen to be at home when the wound infection occurs, visit or call your doctor. Your doctor may choose to prescribe antibiotics for you or open the incision site to clean and drain the pus if any.
Most women undergoing cesarean section are always in denial. Even after successful delivery of the baby, they still feel sad about not having an opportunity to deliver vaginally.
Some also fall into depression as a result of uterus removal which might have occurred together with cesarean section
All these thoughts and feelings could lead to severe mental issues if not addressed accordingly. It is important to seek help whenever you feel anxious and lost in thoughts. You may choose to talk to your doctor or a professional counselor.
Hysterectomy is the total removal of the uterus. Several complications of C-section such as heavy bleeding and uterine infection may lead to total removal of the uterus.
- Women who undergo hysterectomy for one reason or another will never be able to have children.
It not an intention of any doctor to carry out this procedure, but when C-section complicates and puts the life of a woman in danger, it has to be done to save a life.
When to see a doctor
If you notice the following, do not hesitate to visit your doctor as soon as possible. Call your doctor when:
- Your lochia has a strong unpleasant smell and is brownish or yellow-brownish in color.
- Your lochia has not changed color from bright red after 5days of delivery.
- You are using more than one sanitary pad in an hour.
- You experience large black clots several days post- delivery.
- You experience chills and fevers.
- You have severe pain accompanied by itching on the incision.
- You experience burning sensation during urination.
- You notice any discharge from the incision. More so a yellow discharge.
- Your incision splits open.
- You experience anxiety and sleeplessness for some days
- You notice red meat like steaks from the incision site.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
- Postpartum bleeding (May 2015): https://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/postpartum-bleeding-topic-overview
- Keeping fit after the baby (June 2015): https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/keeping-fit-and-healthy.aspx
- Postpartum depression symptoms (March 2015): https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/CON-20029130
- Postpartum bleeding; how much is too much? (June 2015): https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-blog/postpartum-bleeding/bgp-20055790