Objective: To examine the postpartum bleeding experience of a cohort of breast-feeding women and to compare it with the conventional definition of lochia.
Methods: Four hundred seventy-seven experienced breast-feeding women in Manila, the Philippines, were followed prospectively from delivery and recorded vaginal bleeding in a menstrual diary. The median duration of lochia was calculated using survival analysis. In addition, all bleeding separate from lochia within the first 8 weeks postpartum was noted.
Results: The median duration of lochia was 27 days and did not vary by age, parity, sex or weight of the infant, breast-feeding frequency, or level of supplementation. More than one-fourth of the women experienced a bleeding episode separated from the original lochial flow by at least 4 bleeding-free days and beginning no later than postpartum day 56. Ten breast-feeding women may have had their first menstrual bleed before day 56.
Conclusions: Lochia lasted substantially longer than the conventional assumption of 2 weeks. It was common for postpartum bleeding to stop and start again or to be characterized by intermittent spotting or bleeding. Return of menses is rare among fully breast-feeding women in the first 8 weeks postpartum.