One of the most asked questions of mums is this: “I just gave birth. When will my period come back after birth?” Learn more about your first postpartum period and issues that you may experience in this period (no pun intended) of your life.
Given the change we experienced in our bodies when we became pregnant, it is also exciting to know when our bodies will be “normal” again. But it’s not that simple. It takes enough time for our body to recover from childbirth and for our hormones to return to normal.
When Can I Expect My First Postpartum Period?
After giving birth and spending the first couple of weeks caring for their newborn, most mums want to find out when their bodies will return to normal. And one of the first questions they ask is, "When will my period come back?"
New mums are eager to know when their first postpartum period will arrive and what to expect when it finally does.
According to Dr Maureen Laranang, an OB-Gynecologist from the Philippines, the question of when menstruation will return after giving birth depends on whether the mother is breastfeeding.
If the new mum is not breastfeeding and is just bottle-feeding or sometimes a combination of both, menstruation will usually be back after the 8th week.
Moreover, according to Dr Laranang, your period will not return immediately when you feed for six months. Due to the so-called lactation amenorrhoea.
Image source: Freepik
When Do You Get Your Period After Birth While Breastfeeding?
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your first period may not come back for several months, or up to two years if you continue to nurse. Your periods may return as soon as 3 weeks after your kid is born if you bottle feed or partially breastfeed your infant.
Your periods may become irregular once they return, mainly if you are still producing milk (lactating). The length of your menstruation may also vary. It's not uncommon to miss a period or wait a few months for your next one.
When you reduce breastfeeding time, your periods should begin to return to normal. At first, you may notice some spotting (light bleeding).
Irregular periods after birth
If you have irregular periods while nursing, such as continuous spotting, heavier-than-normal bleeding, or extended cycles, you should consult your doctor because there could be other factors at play. Your doctor will need a thorough checkup and may request tests to rule out other possibilities.
Will my period affect the milk I produce?
You may notice changes in your milk production or your baby's responsiveness to breast milk once your period returns. The hormonal changes that induce your period may also impact your breast milk.
You might notice a drop in your milk production or a change in how frequently your baby wants to nurse, for example. The content of your breast milk and how it tastes to your infant may also be affected by hormonal fluctuations. However, these changes are usually mild and should not interfere with your child's breastfeeding ability.
Period After C Section While Breastfeeding
For every new mother, some challenges come with breastfeeding. One of the most common challenges is figuring out how to manage your period after a C-section.
It's normal for women who have had a C-section to experience blood loss during their first few days of recovery. This can cause some discomfort for breastfeeding mothers, who are already dealing with soreness from the surgery and extra pressure from the baby's mouth on their nipples.
It's important to keep hydrated and take care of yourself during this time; however, it's also important not to let yourself get too tired or stressed while you're healing so that you don't compromise your milk supply or put yourself at risk for infections such as mastitis (an infection in the breast).
How to Get Your Period Back While Breastfeeding
After your baby is born, you may have to wait a while before you get your period back. That's because breastfeeding suppresses ovulation and makes it difficult for your body to produce the hormones needed to trigger your period.
But there are several things you can do to encourage this process:
- Make sure you're getting enough calories from food or supplements; if you're underweight, your body won't produce enough estrogen and progesterone—the hormones that stimulate menstruation.
- Talk with a doctor about taking birth control pills or other medications that can help bring on your period more quickly. This could include the Pill, an intrauterine device (IUD), or even an oral contraceptive containing estrogen and progesterone.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day—this helps flush out toxins from your body and increase blood flow through your pelvic region, which can also help trigger a period.
How Long Can You Go Without a Period While Breastfeeding
Generally, it's not uncommon for women to experience changes in their menstrual cycles when breastfeeding. About half of women who breastfeed report that their periods stop completely during the first six months of breastfeeding.
This isn't necessarily something to be concerned about: your body might need some time to adjust after giving birth.
And even if your period does return after this initial six-month period (or after a shorter or longer time), it may not be exactly like it was before you started breastfeeding—which is normal!
You might notice changes in the amount or length of your cycle and how much bleeding there is during each period.
Postpartum Menstruation vs Postpartum Bleeding
After giving birth, mums may experience bleeding for a week or two that can be mistaken for menstruation.
This is called lochia, your body’s way of removing other blood and tissue in your uterus that helps your baby grow.
But how do you tell the difference between postpartum bleeding and menstruation?
According to Dr Laranang, postpartum bleeding is also referred to as physiologic vaginal bleeding or discharge after childbirth. It lasts up to 2 weeks. Compared to menstruation, it has a much slower flow. The lochia rubra usually comes during the first 3 days and is bright red.
She added that the bleeding decreases on the 4th to 10th day and the colour turns pink. After 10 days, a white discharge will be noticed. This is normal for women who give birth.
No Period After Giving Birth - Can I Get Pregnant?
Image source: Freepik
As long as you already had your first postpartum period, you should assume that you are already ovulating and can get pregnant. So if you do not want to get pregnant yet, talk to your OB-gynaecologist about birth control options that are suitable for you, especially if you are breastfeeding.
According to one study, a woman usually ovulates 45 to 94 days after giving birth. Most also start ovulating again in the 6th week, but some even earlier.
According to Dr Laranang, exclusively breastfeeding women take longer to ovulate. This is called lactation amenorrhea. The mechanism works by suppressing the hormone released for ovulation. It is also a form of natural contraception, but has 3 conditions:
- the mum did not have her first postpartum period yet
- she is exclusively breastfeeding her child regularly
- her baby is below 6 months old
Therefore, a woman can ovulate even if her menstruation has not returned after giving birth. This means that a woman can become pregnant even if she has no menstruation yet after giving birth.
Irregular Periods During Breastfeeding
Irregular periods during breastfeeding are common and normal. Your body has a lot on its plate when you're breastfeeding, so it's not surprising that your menstrual cycle might be affected.
You may notice that your period is lighter than usual, or that it comes later than expected. It can also be harder to predict the timing of your period when breastfeeding, especially if it was irregular before you became pregnant.
It's important to keep track of your period so you know when to expect it—and when not to! If you have sex during your period and don't use protection, there's a chance you could get pregnant again.
Birth Control After Giving Birth
Image source: Freepik
Once the woman's body has recovered, her wound has healed, and she is ready, she can have sex again. But if you do not want to follow the baby immediately, it is better to use contraceptives during sex. According to Dr Laranang, contraceptives also depend on the type used.
Ask your OB-gynecologist what contraceptive method you should try and when you can start it. He or she can recommend the best contraceptive method for your situation. Read this to know more about birth control options for the breastfeeding mum.
Dr. Laranang notes that on the 6th week of giving birth, parents must come back to discuss the family planning method they need.
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Proper cleaning of wounds and vagina
According to Dr Laranang, whether you have stitches on the vagina, it still needs to be cleaned thoroughly after birth to prevent infections.
The vagina must be washed 2 times a day, morning and night, with mild soap and lukewarm water. A feminine wash with povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine digluconate can also be used to reduce the possibility of infection.
Take care of your C-section wound
Usually, before sending the patient home, the wound in the abdomen is cleaned, and a waterproof dressing is applied to protect it from getting wet when the mummy takes a bath. At the first checkup, it will be checked to see if it is dry, and the dressing will be removed.
But even if it is dry, the wound must also be cared for while resting at home. Avoid scratching the wound to prevent infection. Also, don't lift anything too heavy, and wear a binder to keep your stitches from opening.
Help with bowel movements
To prevent your stitches from opening (whether your birth is normal or caesarean), avoid pushing too hard when having a bowel movement.
Eat lots of fibre-rich foods (grains, fruits, vegetables), drink plenty of water, exercise or use a mild stool softener to make bowel movements easier.
Taking care of your breasts
For painful breasts due to frequent breastfeeding, try using a warm compress (if it feels stiff) or an ice pack (for sore nipples) to relieve the pain. Wearing comfortable clothing while feeding and using nipple cream will also help.
Don't forget your follow-up checkup
Ensure your wound heals and there are no complications from your childbirth. It's essential that you return to your OB-Gynaecologist for a follow-up checkup.
He or she may also ask how you are feeling emotionally. It's to find out if you are experiencing postpartum mental disorders such as depression or anxiety. If you also have strange feelings or questions about your body after you give birth, do not be ashamed to consult your doctor.
Relax and take care of yourself
Aside from taking care of the baby, the first week after giving birth is also a time for mum to rest. For wounds to heal quickly and your body to recover, ensure you eat right and get enough rest.
Advice from many mothers: go to sleep when the baby is asleep.
Also, if you want to start exercising again, get your doctor's permission first. Take it easy, mummy, and enjoy the first few days with your kid.
This article was translated by Margaux Dolores and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Updated by Pheona Ilagan
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