Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Postpartum Bleeding and Retained Placenta: Care Instructions
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Postpartum Bleeding and Retained Placenta: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

The placenta forms during pregnancy to give your baby nutrients and oxygen. It also removes waste products.

Normally, the placenta attaches to the top part of the uterus. Then it comes out of your body after the birth.

But sometimes, the placenta does not come out after the birth. This is called a retained placenta. When this happens, your doctor will remove the placenta.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest until you feel better.
  • After the birth, you will have a bloody discharge from the vagina. In less than a week, it will be pink in colour. After about 10 days, it will be white or yellow. It may last for 2 to 4 weeks or longer, until your uterus heals. Don't worry if you also pass some blood clots, as long as they are smaller than a golf ball.
  • If you have a tear or stitches in your vaginal area, change your pad at least every 4 hours. This will prevent soreness and infection. Do not use tampons until you see your doctor for your 6-week checkup.
  • It's normal to have cramps for the first few days after the birth. They happen because the uterus is going back to normal size. Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not take aspirin. It can cause more bleeding.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means you are soaking through a pad each hour for 2 or more hours or passing blood clots.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You are vomiting or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or more belly or pelvic pain.
  • You pass tissue (not just blood).

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You are not getting better after 2 days (48 hours).
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter J072 in the search box to learn more about "Postpartum Bleeding and Retained Placenta: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.