Your Period After Pregnancy: What To Expect
From glowing skin to a new gratitude for your body, there are many things to love about pregnancy. Another is that you’ll have at least nine months of freedom from Aunty Flo and her monthly visits. But after you deliver, you’re probably curious what will happen with your menstrual cycle,and when you'll get your first period after delivery. The return of your period mostly depends on whether or not you breastfeed. And just like your life after baby, you might find your periods after pregnancy are somewhat different.
When will your period return?
Your period will typically return about six to eight weeks postpartum, if you aren’t breastfeeding. If you do breastfeed, the timing for a period to return can vary. If you're breastfeeding exclusively, you might not have a period the entire time you breastfeed. “Exclusive breastfeeding” means that your baby is receiving only your breast milk. But for others, it might return after a couple of months, whether they’re breastfeeding or not.
If your period does return quickly after giving birth and you had a vaginal delivery, your doctor might recommend that you avoid using tampons during your first menstruation post-baby.
This is because your body is still healing, and tampons could potentially cause trauma. Ask your doctor if you can return to using tampons at your six-week postpartum checkup.
Why don’t breastfeeding women get their periods as quickly?
Typically, women who are breastfeeding don’t get their periods as quickly because of their body’s hormones. Prolactin, the hormone needed to produce breast milk, can suppress reproductive hormones. As a result, you don’t ovulate or release an egg for fertilization. Without this process, you most likely won’t menstruate.
How might my period be different postpartum?
When you do start your period again, chances are the first period after delivery won’t be like your periods before you got pregnant. Your body is once again adjusting to menstruation. You may experience some of the following differences:
- cramping that might be stronger or lighter than usual
- small blood clots
- heavier flow
- flow that seems to stop and start
- increased pain
- irregular cycle lengths
The first period after your pregnancy may be heavier than you’re used to. It might also be accompanied by more intense cramping, due to an increased amount of uterine lining that needs to be shed. As you continue your cycle, these changes will likely decrease.
What about birth control?
Some use breastfeeding as a natural birth control method. Even though breastfeeding reduces your fertility, it’s not an absolute guarantee you won’t get pregnant again. The key here is exclusive breastfeeding. Other than breast milk, no fluids or solids are given to the baby with exclusive breastfeeding. Even water. Supplements or vitamins don’t interfere and can be given to the baby. Breastfeeding that doesn’t fit this description might not protect against another pregnancy.
If you’re breastfeeding and your period does return, you’re no longer protected against getting pregnant. It’s also important to note that it can be difficult to predict the return of fertility. You will ovulate before your period starts, so it’s entirely possible to get pregnant again before your period returns.
Safe and effective birth control methods are available for those who are breastfeeding. Non-hormonal options such as the copper intrauterine device (IUD), condoms, and diaphragms are always safe for breastfeeding.
There are also some hormonal birth control options that are quite safe during breastfeeding. Your doctor can provide the latest updates on specific types of birth control. In general, low-dose combination pills that contain estrogen and progestin are quite safe after you’ve healed from birth. Progestin-only pills are also safe to use while breastfeeding.
A return to your menstrual cycle is just one of the parts of recovery and returning to your prepregnancy body. In some, menstruation may be delayed due to the hormone increases associated with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding as a form of contraception isn’t foolproof. Having a backup method, such as oral contraception or a condom, can help provide further protection.
If anything seems out of the ordinary about your first period after pregnancy, contact your doctor. Excess bleeding or indications of infection are especially concerning for a new parent. Listen to your body and play it safe.