Lochia is normal in every woman after childbirth. However, it can be infected, thereby causing an unpleasant smell. But what does infected Lochia smell like?
What infected lochia smell like should be a concern to you if you are amongst women who experience smell during the lochia period.
It is the vaginal discharge women have after giving birth. Lochia contains a mixture of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue.
It has a musty odor similar to menstrual discharge and can last for several weeks. The Lochia is heavy at first but gradually subsides into a lighter flow until it disappears.
This may take some weeks. It is a part of the postpartum healing process and does not cause complications.
What Does Infected Lochia Smell Like?
Lochia smells like menstrual blood. Most people describe it as musty, metallic, and sour. However, it should not smell fishy or stinky.
This could mean that bacteria has entered your vagina and caused an infection. Smelling Lochia with a fishy odor or greenish Lochia can be a sign of infection.
Report it to a paramedic immediately. It can be treated with antibiotics. Other symptoms of infection include chills, rapid heartbeat, abdominal pain or tenderness, and a high temperature.
If your Lochia smells offensive, it could mean an infection in the womb or around any vaginal tears you may have suffered during labor.
Infections can become dangerous if left untreated, especially if the infected area is around the uterus, as this can lead to complications such as blood clots or bladder infections.
As alarming as it sounds, the infection is often manageable with treatment, but the sooner you see it, the better.
Infections make your postpartum experience more unpleasant and take away valuable bonding time with your baby.
It is advisable you meet with your midwife to report any changes you experience.
What Does Lochia Look Like?
Every woman differs, but Lochia generally follows a similar evolution of color and volume. It starts as blood before narrowing to a mucus white in color.
It is always bright or dark for about four to five days. The flow is strong, and you can also contain small clots.
It is normal if, at this period, you soak a thick pad and have to change it every two hours.
After about a week, the Lochia becomes more watery and turns pinkish-brown in color. The flow is lighter, and you don’t have to fill the pads as quickly.
Eventually, after about 10 to 14 days, the Lochia will turn a creamy, yellow-white color. At this point, some people may wear thin panty liners under their underwear.
What Should I Do to Treat Lochia at Home
Nothing needs to be done to treat Lochia. Likewise, you shouldn’t do anything to prevent or stop Lochia, as it’s a normal part of your body’s postnatal healing process.
By the time your uterus returns to its normal size, you won’t be experiencing much Lochia anymore.
But it is important to monitor the Lochia and ensure it stays within the normal range.
Healing after childbirth takes several weeks. So take it easy and get as much rest as possible during this time.
Here Are Some Tips for Handling Lochia:
- Use sanitary maxi pads for the first six weeks after giving birth. After that, plan to go through several large, thick pads daily for at least a week.
- Do not use tampons or insert anything into your vagina until you see your healthcare provider. This can introduce bacteria into your uterus and cause an infection.
- Wear underwear and pants that you don’t mind ruining. Lochia can stain your clothes.
- Give your body time to heal. As exciting as it may sound to bounce back and resume your usual activities, it can hinder your recovery. It can also cause your bleeding to start again or get heavier.
- To avoid infection, change the maxi pad every few hours and do not insert anything inside the vagina for at least six weeks.
Types of Lochia
Lochia changes over time as the uterus removes excess blood and tissue. You will usually notice the following pattern:
- At first, the Lochia will appear dark red, and the flow may be heavy.
- After about four to 10 days, the Lochia should lighten and look pinkish or brownish.
- After 10 to 14 days, the Lochia should resemble spotting, as you might notice right before or after your period.
- For the remaining days or weeks, the Lochia will look more like watery mucus and be white or yellow. It can also become very irregular.
If you’ve had a C-section, you’ll still have Lochia, although you may have less of it than if you had a vaginal delivery.
After a C-section, doctors will examine the uterine cavity to ensure all the placenta has been removed.
Some of what would traditionally pass later as Lochia is also often removed.
Characteristics of Lochia
- Lochia is similar to menstrual blood
- It is heavier and lasts a little longer than a normal period.
- It also contains elements not found in menstrual blood, such as remnants from the placenta.
- As the Lochia passes, it may appear pink, brown, yellow, or watery.
- It is possible that you can see small blood clots contained in the Lochia.
- If they’re no bigger than a plum and you don’t pass a few within 24 hours, this is normal.
- If you’re at all concerned about a clot you’ve had, don’t hesitate to call your provider.
Causes of Lochia
For nine months, it was not only your baby in your womb but also the placenta and lots of excess uterine tissue and blood.
Remember, you didn’t get your monthly period. When your baby is born, the uterus expels all this excess material through postpartum uterine contractions, which are also normal.
They help your uterus shrink back to its normal size. The uterus is usually about the size of an orange.
However, by the time you give birth to your baby, it will have stretched to about 38 centimeters, in other words, the size of a watermelon.
There you have it. The question “what does infected lochia smell like” has been answered and also, how to know when it is infected.
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