For all expecting mothers, the joy of impending motherhood can bring with it a myriad of questions. One of these concerns relates to when your period might return after giving birth. Understandably, there can be uncertainty surrounding this subject, particularly if you’re a first-time parent. Read on to find out all you need to know about this important topic!
1. The Postpartum Hormone Changes
After giving birth, mothers experience dramatic physical and hormonal changes. Many common symptoms are associated with postpartum hormone shifts. One of the most common questions asked by postpartum moms is when their period will return. Let’s take a look at the hormone changes that occur after giving birth and when moms can expect to have their next period.
- 1. Hormonal Changes After Giving Birth
- During pregnancy, your body undergoes major hormonal changes. These changes increase the amounts of estrogen, progesterone, and relaxin in the body. These hormones are responsible for preparing the body for childbirth.
- Once your baby is born, the production of these hormones decreases quickly. Progesterone and estrogen levels drop to pre-pregnancy levels. In turn, relaxin decreases to non-pregnancy levels over a period of several weeks.
- Most women see their menstrual cycles return anywhere from four to eight weeks postpartum. Keep in mind, this is just an average and return times can vary from woman to woman.
- Your period will usually return even sooner if you breastfeed. The hormones oxytocin and prolactin can suppress ovulation. This means if you are breastfeeding exclusively, your period will likely not yet return.
2. When Does Your Period Return
2. Feeding Method and Return of Period
Your post-partum fitness plan should include considering how you will feed your baby. If you plan to breastfeed, your milk supply will affect the timing of your period returning. If you choose formula-feeding, your period may return more quickly. Speak to your pediatrician to decide which will be better for your baby.
Return of Period
It’s likely that your period won’t return right away after leaving the hospital. This timing can depend on a variety of factors. In general:
- If you’ve recently given birth and are formula-feeding – your cycle should return within six to eight weeks.
- If you’re breastfeeding – your cycle may not return until you wean your baby.
- If you’ve recently given birth, but aren’t breastfeeding – your cycle should return within four to six weeks.
When your period does return, it may be different from what it was pre-pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if you experience any abnormal symptoms or if your period doesn’t return when expected.
3. The Duration of a Postpartum Menstrual Cycle
The postpartum menstrual cycle is an important milestone to track following childbirth. After your baby is born, your body goes through many changes and knowing when you can expect your period to return is key for managing your health.
Here’s what to expect:
- Typically, your postpartum cycle is around 24 weeks from the start of your delivery.
- It’s important to note that this return of your period will usually happen when you are exclusively breastfeeding, or when you begin including other sources of nutrition besides breastmilk.
- The duration of your postpartum cycle may vary from person to person but is generally six weeks or less.
- It can also vary depending on the type of birth you had. Women who had a C-section typically take longer than those who had a vaginal birth.
- Keep in mind, your period may not always be regular following childbirth. It may come sporadically for a few months but should even out over time.
Your doctor will likely discuss postpartum menstrual cycle with you during your postnatal checkups. In the meantime, be sure to track your cycle to ensure that you are taking the proper steps for managing your health.
4. When to Expect Your First Postpartum Period
Many women wonder when they can expect their first postpartum period after giving birth. While the answer will vary from person to person, there are some basic guidelines you can follow.
- Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding, you can generally expect your first postpartum period to appear anywhere between three and six months after delivery.
- Formula Feeding: If you are not breastfeeding, then your first postpartum period may come as early as six to eight weeks postpartum, though it can come at any point in the first edition
It’s important to keep in mind that a postpartum period may look a bit different from your usual cycle. It may be heavier than normal, more painful than usual, or last longer or shorter than before.
If you’re experiencing bleeding throughout the first few months post-birth, it’s likely lochia, which is postpartum discharge that typically lasts anywhere from two to six weeks. However, if bleeding continues for longer than six weeks, you should contact your doctor.
5. Ways to Prepare for Your Return of Period Postpartum
1. Scheduling Regular Postpartum Check-Ups. To ensure that your postpartum recovery is going as it should, it’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor. During these check-ups, you can discuss the frequency and timing of your menstrual cycle.
2. Track Your Cycle. Keeping track of your cycle allows you to have a more accurate understanding of when to expect your period to return. List important dates, such as when your last period was, when you went into labor, and when you gave birth. Also, note any symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) you experience.
3. Get Enough Rest. Getting enough rest is essential during postpartum recovery. Make sure to leave some ‘me time’ for yourself, even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
4. Adopt a Healthy Diet. Eating a healthy and varied diet is beneficial to your postpartum recovery, especially in regard to helping your menstrual cycle return. Include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Additionally, you could take a daily supplement of iron, as this is especially important for replenishing your iron stores.
5. Exercise Regularly. Exercising regularly will help to balance hormones, strengthen the pelvic floor, and help you to stay in shape. Choose low-impact activities that feel comfortable and safe, such as walking, Pilates, and yoga. Start off with just a few minutes a day, and progress when you’re ready.
6. The Longer-Term Benefits of Giving Birth
Giving birth is a momentous occasion that can also have a lasting impact on your body; one such effect being the return of your period. While postpartum bleeding generally subsides within a few months of delivery, your period can take longer to return to a regular cycle – and that’s okay!
- Hormonal Fluctuation: Your body needs time to recover and rebalance its hormones, and that can cause you to experience greater fluctuations in your hormones. This, in turn, could lead to an irregular menstrual cycle.
- Breastfeeding: Lactation suppresses the body’s production of oxytocin, a hormone needed for menstruation. Women who are breastfeeding regularly may not see their period for months, or until they stop breastfeeding.
- Stress: Stress is an unavoidable part of new parenthood. This can impact the balance of hormones, and cause menstrual cycles to become irregular. Adopt strategies to reduce stress such as meditating or exercise.
What’s important to remember is that everyone’s body is different and you should never feel ashamed of your postpartum menstrual cycles. While you may not see your period return right away, it is good to be aware of the long-term benefits of giving birth. It’s not just the immediate joy and pride in becoming a mother – your greater sense of confidence, self-esteem and freedom can last a lifetime.
Congratulations! Now that you’ve read this article, you have a better idea of when your period should return after childbirth. Just remember that everyone’s body is different, and if you have any concerns or questions, your healthcare provider is a great resource to turn to. Best of luck as you prepare to journey through this remarkable and life-altering experience.