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Postpartum bleeding is bleeding after giving birth. Similar bleeding can also occur following a pregnancy loss or abortion. Postpartum maternity pads can help people manage this bleeding.
Most healthcare providers recommend against inserting anything, such as menstrual cups or tampons, into the vagina following birth because of the increased risk of infection.
However, the right pads can make postpartum bleeding more manageable without irritating a person’s tears or stitches.
Medical professionals use the term lochia to describe the discharge that the body produces after birth. Lochia — a mix of mucus, blood, and tissue —comes from the uterus as it returns to its normal size and starts to heal. Most people bleed for several weeks after birth, although the heaviest bleeding usually stops within 1–2 weeks.
As the bleeding slows, it might change in appearance to brown blood or yellowish discharge. A person might notice spotting, which may sometimes alternate with bleeding. This is normal.
However, it is not normal for a person either to bleed so heavily that they soak through multiple pads in an hour or to stop bleeding for several days and then begin bleeding heavily again. In these cases, a person should speak to a doctor or midwife immediately.
It is a good idea to invest in a few different types of pads. If one feels uncomfortable or leaks, it is worth switching brands or trying a higher absorbency product.
The right pad will prevent blood from staining underwear and clothing, without irritating sensitive skin.
Please note that the product information in this article is research-based. No one at Medical News Today, including the writer, has tried these products.
Stayfree Ultra Thin
People can wear this winged, thin maxi pad discretely, even under tight clothes, but it is still highly absorbent.
The soft, even outer layer will not snag stitches.
Tossing and turning overnight or doing gentle physical activity can lead to leaks. The Always Maxi pad has wings to help contain these leaks.
The pad also has a highly absorbent core. It is fragrance-free, with a soft outer layer that will not irritate stitches or delicate tissue.
Dutchess Cloth Pads
Cloth pads are a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to disposable pads.
Some people also use cloth pads because they find that disposable pads irritate their skin.
Dutchess Cloth Pads come in a variety of bright colors. The bamboo-based cloth is washable and odor resistant, and it easily folds to fit discreetly into a purse.
Frida Mom Instant Ice Maxi Pads
After delivery, many people have two challenges: controlling the flow of blood and easing pain and swelling. Frida Mom’s Instant Ice Maxi Pads boast a high absorbency and can ease postpartum pain with a cooling effect.
The outer layer is soft and highly absorbent, preventing leaks without irritating birth injuries.
Medline Perineal Cold Packs
Medline’s cold packs offer the same benefits of the Frida Mom pads but are slightly bulkier. This design makes them a good option for people in the very early postpartum days or those dealing with heavier bleeding.
Available at a slightly lower price point than Frida Mom’s pads, Medline packs are a budget-friendly option for right after delivery.
Always Discreet Boutique Incontinence & Postpartum Underwear
Managing bleeding, choosing comfortable underwear, and continually changing pads can be frustrating, especially if a person is also managing birth injuries, caring for a newborn, or both.
This disposable underwear is soft and stretchy, making it comfortable for people with stitches from a cesarean delivery or vaginal injuries. The built-in pad is highly absorbent.
Organyc 100% Certified Organic Cotton Pads
For people who would prefer an organic pad but do not want to use reusable cloth pads, Organyc’s 100% cotton pads are a great alternative.
There are no harmful additives, and the soft outer layer will not irritate any birth injuries or sensitive skin. The pads are also highly absorbent.
Thinx Super Hi-Waist
Thinx reusable period underwear is another environmentally friendly option.
The Super Hi-Waist design is comfortable after a cesarean delivery and can absorb up to four tampons’ worth of blood.
Most people find that their bleeding gets lighter with time. However, it is possible to have a hemorrhage days or even weeks after birth. This potentially life threatening occurrence is known as postpartum hemorrhage.
In some cases, bleeding may increase about 2–3 weeks after delivery. Generally, the uterus is not adequately healed yet, so even if the bleeding has become light, it may become heavier again. It is important that people refrain from doing too much physical activity and allow time for the body to heal.
It is important to call a doctor or midwife if:
- bleeding stops completely for a day or more and then starts again
- there is a foul smell from the vagina
- a person passes a clot larger than a golf ball
- a person soaks through more than one pad per hour for more than 2 hours
Emergency medical care is necessary if:
- a person passes many large clots in a short period
- a person feels lightheaded or confused, or they faint
- blood seems to be pouring out of the vagina
- a person is rapidly soaking through each pad — for example, in 15 minutes or less
It is common for people who have a hemorrhage to delay care or for doctors not to take the hemorrhage seriously at first. For this reason, it is important to be clear and specific with healthcare providers.
The person should tell the provider that they have had a postpartum hemorrhage and explain the specific symptoms, such as the number of pads that they have soaked through in an hour. If possible, it can help to take the pads to the hospital or clinic.
Finding the right maternity pad or underwear requires some trial and error. Many people find that a combination of solutions — such as wearing thin pads with absorbent underwear — offers the most comfortable protection.
Hospitals and birth centers often give away pads and other supplies. A person can ask about taking some of these home with them when they leave.