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Am J Perinatol. 1999;16(8):399-402.

Characteristics of normal lochia.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Assaf-Harofeh Medical Center, Zerifin, Israel.


The objective of this paper is to determine the characteristics of each phase of lochia and how these may be influenced by a number of obstetric variables. Thirty-nine healthy women who had spontaneous vaginal delivery following uncomplicated pregnancy volunteered to complete a diary sheet immediately postpartum. The women were instructed to assess the color of their lochia by a color slide with differential gradation from dark red to white. The color was labeled as rubra (red, red-brown), serosa (brown-pink, brown), or alba (yellow, white). The overall duration of lochia was 36.0 +/- 7.5 days (range 17 to 51 days, median 37 days). Three types of lochia color patterns were identified: type 1--rubra-->serosa-->alba sequence (n = 20); type 2-rubra-->serosa-->alba sequence with prolonged rubra phase and short serosa and alba phases (n = 11); and type 3-with two rubra phases (rubra-->serosa/alba-->rubra-->serosa/alba sequence with near-equal duration of each phase) (n = 8). The rubra phase lasts 12.1 +/- 6.7 days in type 1, 24.8 +/- 5.0 days in type 2, and 5.5 +/- 2.5 days (the first rubra) in type 3 pattern (p < 0.05). There was a higher proportion of lactating women among women with type 1 pattern as compared with type 2 (11/20 and 2/11, p < 0.05, respectively). Women with type 2 pattern were of higher parity (2.8 +/- 1.3) as compared with those with type 1 (1.8 +/- 0.8) (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in infants' birth weight between the various color types (3,276.0 +/- 379.8 g, 3,564.4 +/- 737.9 g, and 3,080.0 +/- 180.0 g for type 1, type 2, and type 3, respectively. There were no significant differences in overall duration of lochia or gestational age at delivery between the various color types. The results confirm the clinical impression that lochia persists longer than classically reported and is of diverse patterns. Three unique types of color patterns were identified. Type 1 is the most prevalent and is associated with prolonged breast feeding and thus can be considered as the classic type. Type 2 is associated with short or no breast feeding and higher parity. Type 3 may be a variant of type 2. We suggest that traditional teaching on lochia characteristics needs reappraisal.

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