Giving birth to your baby is an exciting time in your life. Regardless of the method you deliver your baby, you will experience bleeding, called lochia, for an extended period of time. However, if your lochia suddenly changes to bright red or becomes heavy, you might have a complication that requires immediate medical attention. Although exercise can increase your lochia, there are other reasons for heavy bleeding as well.
Lochia is a result of the "open" blood vessels exposed after you deliver your placenta. These vessels eventually close, but until they do, you bleed -- typically anywhere from six to 12 weeks after the delivery. Lochia can range from pale pink to red in color and lightens up every day. The first few days following delivery, lochia usually resembles a heavy menstrual period and may contain small blood clots. If a light and pinkish lochia suddenly changes to bright red, it may be a sign you have an infection or hemorrhage or that you need to slow down.
After a cesarean, you should take it easy until your doctor tells you otherwise; you are encouraged to get up from the bed as soon as you can and begin walking carefully around your room and the hospital hallways. While recuperating at home, continue walking but avoid any strenuous activities such as housework. In addition you need to avoid lifting heavy objects besides your newborn baby.
Beginning strenuous exercise too soon can cause injury such as tearing of your incision and increase your bleeding. However, your lochia can also become heavy due to infection or a hemorrhage. According to the American Pregnancy Association, bleeding is considered heavy when it soaks a maxi pad within an hour or if you pass large blood clots. Immediately notify your doctor if lochia remains heavy or if you experience pain and fever, since these may be a sign of an infection.
You typically must wait six to eight weeks until you start strenuous exercise after giving birth. However, regular walking is recommended after a C-section because it helps speed up your healing process and prevent blood clots and other possible complications. If you were not physically active all throughout your pregnancy, start with an easy pace while exercising and be sure to first get approval from your doctor. Avoid doing abdominal workouts too soon because this can increase your risk of injury and bleeding. Listen to your body, and stop if you feel pain.
Maria Hoven is a health and fitness expert with over 10 years of expertise in medical research. She began writing professionally in 2004 and has written for several websites including Wound Care Centers and healthnews.org. Hoven is earning a Doctor of Philosophy in cell and molecular biology from the University of Nevada, Reno.