In the last blog post, “What to Expect Postpartum”, I covered three different symptoms that occur in the postpartum phase (right after the baby is born). In this post, we are going to focus on the topic of when you will get your period back and how your cycle will look after having your baby. I will also discuss how breastfeeding can influence this.
After not having a period for nine months, the thought of restarting it might seem intimidating and you’re probably wondering when you will have your first one. If you remember from the last post, in the first 4-6 weeks postpartum you will experience vaginal bleeding (lochia). This is not the same type of bleeding as menstrual bleeding. Lochia is made up of blood, tissues from the lining of the uterus, amniotic fluid, bacteria, leftover fetal membranes, and cervical mucus. (1) This type of bleeding only happens after a pregnancy. Menstrual bleeding occurs when the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for pregnancy. When a pregnancy does not occur, the uterus sheds the extra lining. (2)
So, when can you expect to have your first period? It depends on if you choose to breastfeed or not. Women who do not breastfeed typically get their first period about 6-8 weeks after giving birth. Women who exclusively breastfeed usually don’t get their period back until they have stoped breastfeeding or have cut back on it. This can take up to a year for some women! (3) The reason for the delayed period is the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone needed to produce breast milk. It also suppresses other hormones needed for pregnancy to occur. Therefore, it inhibits ovulation and no period occurs. (2)
What will your period look like?
The first period after delivery is likely to look different than the periods you are used to before you were pregnant. Below are some differences you might experience.
- Heavier or light bleeding
- Stronger or lighter cramping
- Small blood clots
- A flow that starts and stops
Most women do experience irregular cycles after delivery, especially if they are breastfeeding. So this is also something to expect. (2) (3)
Your body will be very different after you have your baby. It will take some time for it to be “normal” again but this is true for all mothers. It’s important to be patient with yourself and your body during this time and remember the miracle of childbirth it just went through!
Nurturing Center of Lubbock
3303 66th Street
Lubbock, TX 79413
Phone: 806-780-6853 (available 24 hours)
Marlee Henn, RN
Marlee has been a nurse for two years and currently works in a functional medical clinic and part time in a long term acute care center. She has a passion for natural living, women’s health, and education.