Menstrual Cycle After Pregnancy
The first period after labor can differ from the ones you used to have before you got pregnant. Postpartum women usually have their period regularity restored within several weeks or months, but the changes in the menstrual cycle and the time the first after-labor period will occur depend on several factors, which we are going to discuss in this article.
When do periods return?
It depends on whether you are going to breastfeed. Women who breastfeed their babies, including night-time breastfeeding, normally do not have periods until they stop doing it. This is due to prolactin, the milk-producing hormone, which inhibits production of reproductive hormones, and ovulation does not occur. If you stick to exclusive breastfeeding, i.e. do not use any other food other than your milk, you are unlikely to have periods before your baby starts eating some other food.
Those women who combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding may welcome their periods back as soon as 5 or 6 six weeks after labor. The same is true of women who decide not to or cannot breastfeed their baby.
Will my periods be the same?
The first period after pregnancy usually differs from those the woman used to have prior to getting pregnant. Here is what is likely to change:
- Regularity. Postpartum periods are characterized by irregularity, and it is especially true of women who are breastfeeding and already have periods.
- The blood you see can become different: there may be blood clots, and the periods themselves are often heavier. However, in some cases, the opposite is seen: periods can improve, and the pain associated with it may disappear.
- The first period after labor is more likely to be heavier, with more cramping, but it does not necessarily mean the periods will remain so. If you see blood clots in the period blood that do not disappear after several days, or there is much more blood than there used to be, consult your doctor.
Keep in mind that once your periods are back, your milk can change its properties, including taste, so the reaction of your child to breastfeeding can also be different. However, the changes are usually so insignificant that such cases are rare.
More advice to follow
- Remember that getting pregnant becomes possible as early as 3 weeks after labor, even if you have not had a period yet. Those who are breastfeeding are unlikely to ovulate, but combined feeding and bottle feeding do not prevent ovulation from occurring.
- It can be a good idea to avoid using tampons for some time, because the lining is still healing, and tampons can damage the tissue. Consult your doctor to find out what is the best option for you (in most cases, pads are preferred over tampons).
- Fluctuating postpartum periods are considered to be normal. They usually stabilize within several months, but everyone is different, and it’s difficult to predict what will happen in your case. If you are worried about the period duration, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor.
What dangerous period abnormalities there may be?
If you develop a symptom from the list provided below, consult your gynecologist as soon as possible, as it can be a sign of some process that needs treatment, such as an infection.
- Sudden fevers.
- Severe pain in the abdomen, uterus, vagina or wherever else.
- Periods with large blood clots.
- Heavy periods that make you change pads very often.
- Unusual smell of the discharge.
- A period that lasts more than 7 days.
- Feeling pain while urinating.
- Excessive or abnormal lochia.
Return of Ovulation and Menses in Postpartum Nonlactating Women: A Systematic Review – Insights.ovid.com
How Do Your Periods Change After Pregnancy? – Health.clevelandclinic.org