The term Lochia has been derived from lokhos (childbirth). Lochia is the normal discharge that flows from the uterus and vagina after parturition (childbirth or delivery). The following phases of lochia appear in succession after the delivery, viz. –
Lochia rubra – This discharge occurs immediately after the delivery, and is red or brownish red in color. It consists of blood (presence of blood imparts red color to it), endometrial tissue (endometrium is the mucous membrane lining of womb / uterus), fetal lanugo (lanugo or lanugo hair is defined as the fine, soft hair occurring on the body of the fetus), vernix (see, medical definition of vernix), mucus, and sometimes also contains meconium (see, medical definition of meconium). It usually lasts from 2 to 4 days. Lochia rubra is also known as lochia cruenta.
Lochia serosa – This discharge starts 3 or 4 days after childbirth, and has lesser quantity of blood. It is brown-pink in color, and consists of serous material, red blood cells (erythrocytes), lymph, leucocytes (white blood cells / white blood corpuscles), mucus, and microorganisms. Lochia serosa is also known as lochia sanguinolenta.
Lochia alba – This is the final vaginal discharge occurring after delivery, and usually lasts for 10 to 14 days but may last for 3 to 6 weeks. Lochia alba is white or yellowish-white in color, and contains bacteria in huge numbers, white blood cells, mucus, epithelial cells, etc. Lochia alba is also known as lochia purulenta.