Breastfeeding: Nursing mom bleeding at four weeks postpartum

I started to bleed at four weeks postpartum and continued for 12 days. During that time an ultrasound revealed nothing remaining in the uterus. The doctor called it an atypical period and told me to expect to bleed off and on for a couple of more weeks. The bleeding stopped completely after 14 days. But then four days later resumed, heavier and with some cramping. I'm now five days into this phase. I am breastfeeding full time. Have you heard of this sort of thing?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Maybe you are experiencing what is referred to as a "sixth-week bleed." In a recent study, where postpartum bleeding in nursing mothers was evaluated, any bleed, less than 56 days (nine weeks) into the postpartum period was considered a sixth-week bleed, if it was separated from the lochia (post-birth vaginal discharge) by at least four days where no bleeding occurred. A little over one fourth of all breastfeeding mothers in this study experienced a sixth-week bleed, though only 10 percent of these women actually resumed their period at this time.

In this study of 485 nursing mothers, it was found that the average lochia duration is 27 days. It is not affected by frequency of nursing. It is common for postpartum bleeding to stop and restart. Postpartum bleeding is still considered to be lochia if it is has continued without an episode of at least four bleeding-free days. If bleeding begins less than four days after it has stopped it is still considered to be one episode.

When a nursing mother does experience a sixth-week bleed, there is more likelihood that she will experience an earlier return of ovulation and her menses.

Check in with your doctor if you have any concerns about this prolonged bleeding.

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