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After I delivered my first baby, I was quite uncertain about my menstrual cycle. You see, this would seem like a whole new thing after nine months of complete freedom from periods. Needless to say, I wasn't too pleased waiting for periods after pregnancy. So, just like any first time mom, I wasn’t sure what I should expect from my periods. Just like every pregnancy, every mom’s body is different and the hormonal changes and recovery for each mom is unique.
As a new mom living in a nuclear set-up, I had so many questions:
- When will the period return?
- Does breastfeeding affect periods?
- Can I use a menstrual cups?
- Will my periods be different now?
- What kind of bleeding to expect post-delivery?
After asking same questions from many mummies and googling for hours, I found some answers to my questions.
Periods after pregnancy - When will my periods return?
There is no fixed timeline as to when will you get your first periods after delivery. Some women get their first cycle within the first 10 weeks after delivery while some get it much later. It varies from person to person. The post-partum or lochia bleeding gets over in 40 days or 6 weeks - after which you can expect your period anytime.
Does breastfeeding affect periods?
Since I was breastfeeding, it took about nine weeks until I had my first cycle post the baby. For those who are not breastfeeding it can sometimes return at six weeks as well. If you are breastfeeding your baby, your periods may not return for several months after childbirth. This is because the hormone that causes you to make milk, prolactin, also stops you from ovulating and having your period.
How will my periods after pregnancy affect my baby?
Your periods after pregnancy may not have much of a direct effect on your baby but some infants don’t like the change of taste in the breast milk. Also, your supply gets reduced and babies spend more time on the breast wanting to nurse more and as a result, become cranky for not getting enough milk.
Your baby may:
- Breastfeed less because of the change in taste of breastmilk
- Breastfeed and nurse more because supply is less
- Or refuse to nurse altogether
- The above changes in your baby's behavior will not last for many days - so don’t get worried. If it doesn't improve even after your periods are over, then talk to your doctor.
What About Birth Control?
Since you’re breastfeeding, and producing prolactin it delays your periods as well as ovulation after pregnancy. Since your ovulation gets delayed, so does the menstrual cycle. But, never consider breastfeeding as an alternative to contraception as some women have been known to conceive even during this time.
Can I use a Menstrual Cup or only pads for periods after pregnancy?
Menstrual Cups are considered as a safe and eco-friendly alternative to Sanitary Pads.
Are periods after pregnancy different?
It is likely that the initial days will be a little different. I experienced a slight amount of blood clotting and a little bit more bleeding. Naturally, I was worried and spoke to several other moms and my doctor to see if it is was an issue.
Most women report a change in their periods - for better or for worse. You could experience the following:
- cramping that might be stronger or lighter than usual
- smaller blood clots
- heavier flow in the first few days
- Erratic flow that seems to stop and start
However, after a few cycles, your periods do return to normal and you will not really feel any difference.
Does the flow of bleeding reduce or increase post-delivery?
I had a lot of vaginal discharge post-delivery. This is quite a common phenomenon with all women. Irrespective of whether you had a normal delivery or C-section, you will bleed and experience vaginal discharge. This is a part of the recovery process as the tissue that lines the uterus need to be shed after the delivery.
Be mentally prepared for periods after pregnancy:
- The first few weeks are the worst. This period is when you will have a lot more blood flow and also clots. I did get worried but I soon realized that it would return to normal in the next few cycles.
- Lochia is a fluid that is discharged from the vagina during this time. It is creamy, white in color and lasts for six weeks.
- Be watchful of your bleeding. If it is abnormal having any of the following symptoms, consult a doctor:
- If you go through more than one pad required per hour
- If you get sudden and severe pain
- High fever
- Bleeding that exceeds seven days
Personally, for me, the transition was not that bad. It did not take too long to get back to normal. With the help of your doctor and a good lifestyle, you will feel like your old self in no time. How long before you got your first period? Share below!