Having a baby is a wonderfully exciting time. There are changes in your body that you will love – such as your growing belly and glowing skin. One of the best things about being pregnant is the lack of menstruation. But once that nine months is over you can expect it to return, again. Below are some tips on what to expect – and how to deal with – your first period, postpartum.
When can I expect my period to return? You can expect your first menstrual period to return between six and eight weeks after childbirth – if you are not breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mums can expect the timing of their period’s return to vary.
What about if I am breastfeeding? If you breastfeed, but supplement with a bottle, you can expect your period to return before a mother who is breastfeeding exclusively. That is, if you ONLY breastfeed, you may not get your period the entire time you are lactating – or it may take a couple of months to come back.
The reason for this is prolactin, a hormone secreted to produce breast milk. It has the added “bonus” of suppressing reproductive hormones, which means you don’t ovulate, and you most likely will not have a period. These hormonal changes can also cause constipation, sleep imbalances, and energy swings. You should talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
NOTE: Don’t use breastfeeding as a form of birth control. Even though breastfeeding may eliminate your period – or reduce the chances you will get pregnant – it isn’t a guarantee that you can’t get pregnant. There are safe and effective methods of birth control that you should discuss with your doctor; there are also birth control options that are considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.
How will my period be different after childbirth?More than likely your first period after childbirth will not be like your periods before you had your baby.
You will probably experience all or some of the following:
- Stronger cramping
- Small blood clots
- Heavier flow or a flow that seems to start and stop
- Irregular or longer cycle lengths.
What should I expect from my first period after childbirth? Many women complain they are not told about the first period after birth. It will likely be much heavier than you are accustomed to, and there will be more cramping. Keep in mind this is the first time your uterus has had to shed the menstrual lining in more than 9 months; your body has to get used to doing this again.
It may also take some time for you to have regular periods, especially for the first year after childbirth. You might find that you skip a month or even have your period twice in one month. This is normal and your body should start to regulate itself.
What danger signs should I be on the lookout for?If you experience any of the following warning signs, call you doctor immediately:
- Bleeding is causing you to soak more than one pad an hour
- Bleeding that is accompanied by sudden, severe pain
- A sudden high fever
- Bleeding heavily or continuously for more than 7 days
- Blood clots that are bigger than a tennis ball
- Foul-smelling discharge
- A severe or sudden headache
- You have trouble breathing
- You have pain when urinating.
Bottom line: Your period will come back – it is part of the normal recovery from childbirth. But if anything seems out of the ordinary to you, contact your doctor and let them know. They are used to hearing these questions, and will be glad you reached out to them – and so will you.