You go through so many physical changes during pregnancy that you may not pay much attention to the break you get from your monthly periods. But what can you expect after pregnancy? Will your periods just pick up where they left off or will you face new challenges?
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The answer? It could go either way.
“Women often complain of changes in their periods after having a baby,” says Ob/Gyn Diane Young, MD. “For women who are not breastfeeding, there are three things that are likely to happen with the menstrual period — periods return to normal, periods get worse or periods get better.”
You likely won’t have a period while you’re breastfeeding, at least not for a few months.
To produce breast milk, your brain produces higher levels of the hormone prolactin. This typically means you won’t ovulate (your ovaries won’t release eggs). So you likely won’t have periods.
- Why Your Period Might Change After Having a Baby
- Postpartum Period: When Will Your Menstrual Cycle Return After Birth?
- When Do You Get Your Period After Birth?
- Can I Get Pregnant Before My Period Returns?
- How Will My Postpartum Periods Be Different?
- Will My First Periods After Birth Be Irregular?
- Is Something Wrong With My Postpartum Period?
- Is it normal to have irregular periods after pregnancy/when breastfeeding?
- Is it normal to have irregular periods after having a baby?
- Do periods change after having a baby?
- Are periods irregular while breastfeeding?
- How long after giving birth will my period come back?
- First period after having a baby: What to expect
- Heavy Periods After Childbirth – Why Are My Periods Heavy?
- Your Period After a C-Section: When Will It Return?
- Heavy Periods After Childbirth
- 4 Things You Need to Know About Getting Your Period After a Pregnancy
Getting back to normal
But what happens if you decide not to breastfeed or when you stop?
“Most women will resume normal periods after having a baby,” Dr. Young says. If your period is “normal,” it occurs every 21 to 35 days. Bleeding lasts from two to seven days, she says.
“Back to normal” likely applies to whatever was going on before your pregnancy, as well. Here are two examples:
Birth control: Using birth control pills for contraception often results in skipped, shorter, lighter and/or less painful periods. If you go back to the pills after pregnancy, the lighter periods may resume. If you don’t, you likely will have normal, heavier periods.
Endometriosis: If you have endometriosis or a history of painful periods, you may have easier periods at first after your baby is born. But this change is typically only temporary. A holdover of increased levels of progesterone from pregnancy may cause endometrial implants to get smaller. The result is less painful periods. Your doctor will want to follow up with you regularly after your pregnancy, however. “Painful periods are likely to resume,” Dr. Young says.
How do the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth affect future periods?
Here again, things can go either way, Dr. Young says.
Some women experience heavier, longer or more painful periods after having a baby. These changes may relate to a larger uterine cavity causing more endometrium (mucous lining the uterus) to shed.
For some women, however, their periods improve.
This may occur after pregnancy and childbirth have stretched the uterus and dilated the cervix. This alone can improve future periods. Pregnancy also releases hormones that relax uterine muscles.
What else can make periods worse after pregnancy?
Three other conditions may cause more problematic periods after pregnancy:
- Structural defects. Your doctor likely will treat defects such as polyps and submucosal fibroids with minimally invasive surgery.
- Adenomyosis. Your doctor can manage this thickening of the uterus with minimally invasive surgery or hormone therapy.
- Overactive or underactive thyroid disorder. Your doctor may use a range of treatments for these conditions.
Easier periods are not always good news
Some women may have light periods or no periods due to two rare complications after pregnancy:
- Sheehan’s syndrome. This occurs when severe blood loss or low blood pressure damage the pituitary gland. This disrupts normal ovary function and periods stop. Hormone therapy is a common treatment.
- Asherman’s syndrome. This is the result of scar tissue in the lining of the uterus. Asherman’s syndrome may develop after a dilatation and curettage (D&C). Doctors may perform a D&C after a miscarriage or delivery.
“The bottom line is that periods can change after having a baby,” Dr. Young says. “If you are concerned about your periods, make an appointment with your OB/Gyn. There are medical therapies to help your periods.”
Why Your Period Might Change After Having a Baby
After I had my second baby, my periods became a lot heavier. That didn’t happen after the first one. Why is that?
As you know, your body changes drastically with each pregnancy, but it doesn’t stop at an expanding belly. For example, you produce about 100 times as much estrogen during a day of pregnancy as on a normal day. Other hormones, like progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin, increase during this time as well. These temporary hormonal shifts alter your body not only during those nine months—they can have lasting effects, even after you’re done giving birth and have finished nursing.
RELATED: 10 Ways to Boost Your Odds of Getting Pregnant
This means that just as your breasts may never look quite the same again, your periods may become unrecognizable. Some women experience a pattern shift (differences in PMS symptoms, cramps, duration or heaviness, mood changes or all of the above) after their first baby, and then may go through another menstrual 180 after their second or third child. Still others have no changes at all.
RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period
Your period pattern may also undergo an adjustment in your late 30s as estrogen and fertility begin to decline. So your monthly deluge could be due to a combination of factors. If heavier bleeding or increased pain is making your periods harder to cope with, see your doctor; birth control pills can help even out your hormones.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Meet Dr. Raj at the Health Total Wellness Weekend at Canyon Ranch in May 2015. For details, go to Health.com/TotalWellness.
Postpartum Period: When Will Your Menstrual Cycle Return After Birth?
Of course, the biggest reward of pregnancy will be your adorable new baby. But if you’re like many expectant moms, another huge perk is having your period go on an extended vacation. When do you get your period after birth, and how will it be different? We asked experts to answer some pressing questions about your postpartum period.
When Do You Get Your Period After Birth?
Your breastfeeding status is the biggest factor affecting when you’ll get your first period after birth. That’s because prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast-milk production, suppresses ovulation. Women who don’t breastfeed typically find that their period returns four to eight weeks after childbirth, explains Amina White, M.D., clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For women who breast- and formula-feed, it may take weeks to months for it to resume. Women who breastfeed exclusively get even more time off: It’s normal not to menstruate for six months or longer, Dr. White says. And many moms don’t have their first postpartum period until they stop breastfeeding.
- RELATED: 8 Facts About Your Cycle and Conception
Can I Get Pregnant Before My Period Returns?
Some women find out the hard way that not having their period doesn’t mean there’s no risk of pregnancy. “I’ve seen women who are already pregnant at their six-week postpartum visit,” says Angela Jones, M.D., an OB-GYN in Freehold, New Jersey. Keep in mind that ovulation occurs before menstruation; once you ovulate, you’re fertile, so you can get pregnant even if you haven’t had a post-baby period.
That same logic goes for nursing moms too. “A lot of moms rely on breastfeeding as a form of contraception, but I wouldn’t recommend it,” says Dr. Jones. Accidents happen most often with moms of babies older than 6 months, who are eating solid foods and breastfeeding less frequently, or for babies who get a combination of breast milk and formula. That’s because levels of breastfeeding hormones may not be high enough to suppress ovulation.
Always use another method of birth control along with breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about which form is best for you, as some aren’t recommended for nursing moms: Birth-control pills that contain estrogen, for example, may interfere with breast-milk production. (The estrogen-free “mini pill” may be a better option.)
- Related: A Mom’s Guide to Birth Control
How Will My Postpartum Periods Be Different?
Your period may change a little, a lot, or not at all. You may have longer or shorter ones, a heavier or lighter flow, and even your cycle length can be different, Dr. White says. It’s also possible to have increased or decreased cramping. This is because your uterus grows during pregnancy; then it shrinks after delivery (although it may remain slightly larger). The endometrial lining—what is shed during a period—has to remodel itself as it goes through these changes, says Dr. White. This process occurs with each pregnancy, too, so you may notice changes in your period after each baby.
Your postpartum period may also be heavier if you’d been on hormonal birth control before pregnancy—such as the pill or some IUDs—since hormonal contraceptives thin the endometrial lining. “If you have a vaginal delivery, a tampon might sit differently or feel different,” adds Siobhan Dolan, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center, in Bronx, New York. Generally, most women don’t need to go up a size in tampons. With time, using a tampon should feel as normal as it did before.
- RELATED: 7 Facts About Breastfeeding After a C-Section
Will My First Periods After Birth Be Irregular?
It can take time for your hormones to get back to normal, especially if you’re breastfeeding, Dr. White says. One menstrual cycle might be 24 days, the next one might be 28 days, and then another one could be 35 days. Your cycle should stabilize within a few months or after you’ve stopped breastfeeding.
Is Something Wrong With My Postpartum Period?
You can expect some heavier bleeding and increased cramping with your initial postpartum period. But if you need to change your tampon or pad every hour or more frequently, alert your doctor, says Dr. Jones. It could signal an infection, fibroids, or polyps. Also contact your doctor to rule out anemia or a thyroid dysfunction if you experience any of the following: periods that last longer than seven days or contain clots larger than a quarter; skipping a period after menstruation has restarted; spotting between periods; or if yours has not resumed three months after childbirth or three months after you stop breastfeeding.
- By Tamekia Reece
Is it normal to have irregular periods after pregnancy/when breastfeeding?
Periods. Nobody likes them but nobody wants them to be non-existent or irregular without explanation.
We might associate a regular period with being healthy so when it is unpredictable, especially after birth, we might start to worry.
Fear not! We’ve found out everything you need to know about irregular periods after birth and pregnancy to put your mind at ease.
Is it normal to have irregular periods after having a baby?
Pregnancy and childbirth have a drastic impact on the hormones in our body as they prepare us for childbearing, birthing and breastfeeding. Hormone levels do not go back to normal immediately after birth meaning the hormones which usually regulate our periods are less important during this busy time for your body. It is completely normal for women to experience irregular periods after birth and changes in the frequency and volume of your period after pregnancy are possible.
Do periods change after having a baby?
As well as changes in your hormones there are other factors that can influence your periods post-birth. Women gain a significant amount of weight during pregnancy and after birth, this doesn’t always just disappear. Some mums might even lose weight too quickly due to lack of sleep and a poor diet. Weight has a strong influence on the hormones in the body and this further affects your menstrual cycle. Ovulation also plays a key role in our menstrual cycle and as the frequency of ovulation decreases after pregnancy this may lead to irregular periods.
Are periods irregular while breastfeeding?
Periods can almost definitely be irregular or non-existent while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers begin ovulation after birth much later. Prolactin, the hormone responsible for the secretion of milk suppresses the process of ovulation which means while a mother is breastfeeding, prolactin will remain in the body, affecting the ovulation process. Only once a successful ovulation cycle is completed will you start menstruating again.
How long after giving birth will my period come back?
Hormones may reach normal levels more quickly depending on whether you exercise or have sex after birth but they often remain erratic and unpredictable for months. If you exercise you are more likely to regain your pre-pregnancy body and maintain your weight. This helps restore the hormone balance in your body which is a significant factor in determining your periods. Try these exercises that you can do with your baby.
Having a healthy diet post-birth is very important as it helps to restore the nutrients lost during pregnancy and childbirth. It is a good idea to eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains to give your body the important micronutrients needed to repair the body. A healthy diet will also influence any hormone imbalances in the body.
Trying to be calm and stress-free with a newborn is easier said than done. The lack of sleep, new responsibilities and the emotional impact of having a baby can make new mums very stressed. However, you guessed it, being stressed also has an impact on your hormone levels. Try meditation/mindfulness techniques, talking to friends and family or post-natal yoga (when you get a chance!) to keep stress levels low.
If you want your periods to come back regularly, avoid contraceptives. These further interfere with ovulation and can affect your menstrual cycle. There are contraceptive methods that do not involve hormones such as condoms or the intrauterine device (IUD) which you can discuss with your doctor.
Now read: 11 surprising facts every woman should know about their periods
Did you get irregular periods after pregnancy? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
First period after having a baby: What to expect
Share on PinterestPeriods may change after childbirth, as the uterus takes time to return to its normal size.
Having a baby is a major trauma for a woman’s body, and it takes time to recover. There is no such thing as a “standard” postpartum period, but it is common for the first few periods to be different from how they were before pregnancy.
There are many reasons why periods may change after childbirth, including:
- the uterus taking time to return to its normal size
- hormone levels shifting
- breastfeeding affecting hormone levels
Some women notice that their periods are heavier after childbirth. Others find that the blood is a different color, that there are more clots than usual, or that cramps are more intense.
According to Cleveland Clinic doctor Diane Young, most women will notice their period returns to their personal “normal” over time, meaning however it was before pregnancy.
When will it arrive?
Among women who do not breastfeed or who breastfeed on an irregular schedule, menstruation tends to return more quickly.
A 2011 analysis of six previous studies found that most women got their first periods between 45 and 94 days after giving birth. One study in the review found that the average first period happened at 74 days postpartum.
The main factor affecting the timing of the first postpartum period is ovulation. Women who want to check whether they are ovulating can try using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), which are available in pharmacies and online.
Measuring basal body temperature every day can also help detect ovulation.
Irregular postpartum periods
Especially in the months immediately after giving birth, it is common to have irregular periods. Women who are breastfeeding are more likely to notice irregular periods, as the hormones that support breastfeeding can cause the body to delay ovulation or ovulate infrequently.
Even in women who are not breastfeeding, periods may be irregular, as the body takes time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Over time, menstruation will return to its usual pattern. However, some women may have had irregular periods before pregnancy, such as those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
If a woman is concerned about irregular postpartum periods, it is best that they speak to a doctor to find the underlying cause.
Heavy Periods After Childbirth – Why Are My Periods Heavy?
Diet And Lifestyle Choices Are Important Too
Dietary and lifestyle changes are very important to support your body and keep hormones in balance.
It can be a challenge when you have a baby or toddler, but aim to get enough sleep per day, and nap if and whenever you can. Also work on eliminating stresses from your life, and seek support wherever you can find it.
Exercise – even a 30 minute walk each day – can help with insulin levels, and therefore hormonal imbalances.
Inflammatory foods that spike blood sugar levels – for example, grains and sugar – should be kept to a minimum, and ideally eliminated. Often, for busy and tired mothers, sleep and a good diet go out the window, leaving them in a repetitive pattern of being tired, propping themselves up with sugar, then being tired again. It’s a terrible cycle to be stuck in.
You Don’t Need To Suffer In Silence
If there is just one takeaway for you in this article, I hope it’s this:
You don’t need to suffer in silence, because help is out there to work out the root cause once and for all. You deserve to be able to function at your best. With the demanding task of having a baby in your arms, don’t go for the bandaid fix; go for solving the underlying issue, and you’ll feel so much better.
“I find that the reproductive system is often the first thing to go when a woman is run down and her immune system isn’t working well. Don’t put up with these uncomfortable problems in silence – we’re here and we want to help”, says Doctor Orr.
Your Period After a C-Section: When Will It Return?
Since 32% of babies are delivered via C-section in the United States today, moms-to-be have lots of questions—many of which involve your monthly menstrual cycle. When do you get your period after a C-section? Does breastfeeding affect this cycle? Should I expect light, heavy, or irregular periods after a C-section? We’ve got all of the answers to your most common questions.
When will I get my first period after a C-section?
Having a C-section or vaginal delivery does not impact how quickly your period will return. What does affect menstruation, however, is whether you choose to breastfeed your baby. “Most women who don’t breastfeed will have their periods return at 6-8 weeks postpartum, if they had regular periods before getting pregnant,” says Pamela Promecene, M.D., professor and obstetrician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth/UT Physicians in Houston. “If she’s breastfeeding, return of menstruation is more unpredictable. Many women who breastfeed exclusively will not have menses return for several months.”
- RELATED: 7 Facts About Breastfeeding After a C-Section
What factors impact the return of your period?
Besides breastfeeding, height and weight also impact the return of menstruation, says David Colombo, M.D., Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Spectrum Health. “The form of birth control will also play a factor,” he says. “For example, if she’s on the shot (Depo-Provera), it could be a year before it returns.” What’s more, if your period wasn’t regular before pregnancy, it might still be irregular after a C-section.
What my period be like after a C-section?
Wondering if you’ll experience bad periods after a C-section? The truth is that after your period returns, it can take a while for the cycle to be totally regular again. You may notice small blood clots, irregular flow, or increased period pain after a C-section. That’s because a lot of your uterine lining must shed with the return of menstruation. Some women also experience a heavy period after C-section, while others have a lighter-than-normal flow.
- RELATED: Recovery After C-Section: Timeline and Tips
If you’re worried about period symptoms, or if you think you should be menstruating and you’re not, give your doctor a call. Also see if your doctor for extremely heavy bleeding (soaking more than one pad per hour), very painful cramping, foul-smelling discharge. clumps bigger than golf balls, and menstruation accompanied by fever.
Is it my period or lochia?
After both vaginal births and C-sections, women shed a mixture of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue known as “lochia.” This vaginal discharge can last for several weeks postpartum. However, lochia is usually lighter in color than your period; it may even be a creamy white, pink, or brown. It also smells “sweet” and increases with physical activity.
Can you get pregnant after a C-section?
It’s important to remember that even if you’re not menstruating regularly while breastfeeding, you can still ovulate and become pregnant. This is most often the case for moms of babies older than 6 months, who are eating solid foods and breastfeeding less frequently, or for babies who get a combination of breast milk and formula, because levels of breastfeeding hormones may not be high enough to suppress ovulation. So if another baby is not in your game plan right now, be sure to use a reliable method of birth control.
- RELATED: Getting Pregnant After a C-Section
- By Nicole Harris
Heavy Periods After Childbirth
I have been experiencing heavy and or flooding periods since my last child was born. It is getting difficult to work the first few days of my period due to extremely heavy bleeding, soaking pads, every 15 minutes. The clots are often as big as the palm of my hand. Is there any product you recommend to wear? I have tried every pad , doubled, tripled, inside Depends, etc. I would appreciate any suggestions.
The most important thing is getting to the root of the reason for the heavy bleeding. It depends on your age, other experiences and whether you can tell by the way you feel that your period is coming.
It is likely that you have an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. If you live in British Columbia, have your family doctor give me a call and I will give some instructions to her/him about therapies.
The things that help with heavy flow are outlined in an article for clinicians called “Managing Menorrhagia”. For a start, I’d suggest that you track your menstrual cycle (use the Menstrual Cycle Diary if you have had no changes, or the Daily Perimenopause Diary if you have hot flushes/night sweats or other changes). It would also be useful to track ovulation using the basal temperature. Again, with the diaries are instructions for taking, recording and analyzing these data.
Briefly, for a start, always take ibuprofen (say one 200 mg pill every 4-6 hours) during flow. That has been shown to decrease flow about 20-30 per cent. In addition, when flowing heavily, make sure to drink lots of liquid, especially salty things to keep your blood volume normal.
And I would get a blood count. Even if it is normal your iron stores are likely low. A serum ferritin level will tell that. If your serum ferritin levels are low take one iron pill a day for a year.
Hope this is helpful.
Topic: Heavy flow, Ovulation and menstrual cycles Life Phase: Premenopause, Perimenopause Updated Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 – 14:15
4 Things You Need to Know About Getting Your Period After a Pregnancy
Leave it up to Chrissy Teigen to get straight with us about her period… or lack thereof.
“I truly have not had my period in so long that I forgot the L stood for Light and not Large. I was wondering why I had to change it every hour,” she tweeted recently.
In case you haven’t been following her, the model and cookbook author is mom to Luna (age 2) and Miles (three months). She’s been pregnant or breastfeeding for quite some time now, and it’s apparent in her tweet that her period was MIA for a while. And when it’s gone that long, well, you just might forget what it was like in the first place.
So what happens when your period does come back after a pregnancy and breastfeeding hiatus? We talked to ob-gyns to get the scoop on the return of your flow post-baby.
RELATED: What’s Really Going on in That Viral Video of Chrissy Teigen’s ‘Milky Boobs’
When will my period come back?
Well… you can’t really be sure. After pregnancy, levels of the hormone prolactin (which is associated with breastfeeding) have to drop first. “High levels of prolactin suppress the pulse-like release in brain hormones that orchestrate ovulation,” says John Thoppil, MD, an ob-gyn in Austin, Texas.
You likely won’t get your period while you’re exclusively breastfeeding, Dr. Thoppil says, and your period will return, on average, between six and nine months postpartum. For breastfeeding to suppress egg production, you have to do it every four hours during the day and six hours at night, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is no longer effective after introducing solid foods, if your baby is sleeping more than six hours at night without eating, or if you’re pumping.
If you aren’t breastfeeding, ovulation can happen as early as four weeks postpartum, though this is the time when many doctors recommend avoiding sex in order to give you enough time to heal after delivery, says Dr. Thoppil. One review in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on non-breastfeeding women concluded that most don’t ovulate until six weeks postpartum, though some certainly do earlier.
RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period
Will my period come back as soon as I stop breastfeeding?
Maybe. Maybe not. (Sorry, but there’s no real schedule.) “Some women won’t get their periods for six months after they wean the baby totally,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. If you don’t get your period after six months, talk to your OB, she says, adding that there’s most likely nothing wrong, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
RELATED: 17 Things No One Tells You About Recovering From Childbirth
Can I still get pregnant?
Yes–and this is important to know, so we’ll say it again: Yes! “Some women can get pregnant immediately, even with exclusive breastfeeding,” says Dr. Minkin. You ovulate even before you get that first postpartum period, so you may be fertile and not know it. Every ob-gyn has a story about moms who come to their six-week postpartum visit and learn they’re pregnant again. Dr. Thoppil points out that he and his sister are 10 months apart. (Do the math.)
If you don’t want kids that close in age, talk to your ob-gyn about birth control, ideally before you have your baby. Planning early never hurts. There are even some types of birth control, like the shot, that you can get before leaving the hospital after giving birth, Dr. Minkin says. “ won’t decrease milk production, and you won’t get pregnant,” she says. The injection lasts for three months.
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Will my period be different?
It might be. But here’s the rub: It can get better, stay the same, or even get worse. “The uterus can enlarge post-pregnancy, which can lead to more lining shed,” says Dr. Thoppil. However, there are factors independent of pregnancy that can change your period. You may be using a different form of birth control (like an IUD) or a new-to-you hormonal pill, which can affect your flow. Or, if you’re not using a hormonal method (say, your partner got a vasectomy or you’re using condoms), your period may be different from when you were on birth control. Finally, periods often change as you get older, says Dr. Thoppil.
However, Dr. Minkin says that for some women periods often become better, as cramps are less severe. And that’s a good thing all around. Being sidelined with cramps is not an option now that you have an infant to look after. They may be cute but, man, are they high maintenance.