Postpartum Period: What to Expect

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Written By Nina Foster

One of the biggest perks of pregnancy is the nine-month break from menstruation. However, once your baby is born, it won’t be long until your cycle resumes. 

Your first menstrual cycle after giving birth is also known as a ‘postpartum period.’ How long it takes for your period to return varies on whether or not you are breastfeeding. 

After having a kid, your menstrual cycle may alter.

Even if it’s impossible to predict the exact date, you’ll still need those pads or tampons. The only factor influencing the date is prolactin.

This hormone enlarges your mammary glands during pregnancy and is also responsible for stimulating milk production after childbirth. 

It also hampers the production of the fertility hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This action suppresses the ovulation process and the menstrual cycle after delivery. 

The amount and frequency of prolactin secreted by the pituitary gland are proportional to that of breastfeeding. Therefore, you may argue that your prolactin level determines when your first period will return after pregnancy.

When will you get your first period after pregnancy

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While it is tough to pinpoint the exact timing of your first postpartum period, it may depend on your breastfeeding routine. It is a hormonal issue. In general, here is when you can expect your first period after pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding

If breastfeeding, you should anticipate your first post-pregnancy period to return between 6 and 8 months following delivery. Suppose your infant relies solely on your breast milk. In this situation, you may not menstruate for up to six months or until you offer solid foods to your infant.

This difference varies considerably based on parameters such as the frequency and duration of feedings.

If you stop breastfeeding

If you stop breastfeeding your baby, your prolactin level returns to normal within two to three weeks. You will get your first post-pregnancy period within a few days. 

Difference between the postpartum period and lochia

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The profuse bleeding that follows childbirth is often confused with menstruation. Known as lochia, it is a common ailment different from menstruation or a menstrual disorder. Regular blood, mucus, and uterine tissue discharge are its defining characteristics.

Lochia is a typically bright red discharge that contains several blood clots and is usually heavy at its onset. Three to ten days following delivery, the flow will be substantial. As it fades, the tint changes from red to pink to brown to a yellowish-white tone.

Maintain a supply of sanitary pads, as light bleeding might persist for up to a month. However, C-section mothers may have less lochia than vaginal mothers.

Some women experience spotting for up to six weeks. Greenish lochial discharge or a strange odor are signs of an infection. Consult a physician if you experience these symptoms. 

In rare cases, you may show symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage, a severe type of bleeding that can happen up to 12 weeks after giving birth. Contact your doctor immediately or ring 911 if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy, continuous bleeding, such as soaking through more than one pad every hour for hours
  • Nausea
  • Unclear vision
  • Chills
  • Clammy skin
  • Quick heartbeat
  • Vertigo, faintness, or disorientation

Will the periods be the same as they were before

After having birth, your first period may be different from previous cycles. Your body will need some time to readjust to menstruation once it starts up again. You may experience some changes like:

Postpartum periods are mildly painful due to several factors:

  • The hormones of breastfeeding (Prolactin, Oxytocin)
  • Increased intensity of uterine cramping
  • The uterine cavity becomes larger

Watch out for these postpartum period symptoms

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If you have any of the following symptoms, it is essential that you seek medical attention:

Does your period have an impact on your milk supply

Menstruation might affect breast milk production. Between ovulation and your menstruation, milk production may drop. Adding calcium and magnesium to your diet can help you produce milk throughout your cycle.

Periods can modify the taste of breast milk. Due to flavor, your kid may be fussier during feedings when you’re menstruating.

In conclusion

Resuming your monthly period is one component of healing and returning to your pre-pregnancy body. However, hormonal changes due to breastfeeding may delay menstruation in some ladies. 

If you are breastfeeding for a portion of the time, your period may return sooner. 

It is not unusual for your postpartum period to be slightly different from your regular cycle. However, you must contact your doctor if you notice anything strange about your first period after pregnancy. 

Extremely heavy bleeding or indications of infection can be very distressing for a new parent. Take precautions and pay attention to what your body tells you.


What are the first signs of a postpartum period?

You may experience more or less cramping than before. Your periods may be erratic, particularly if you are occasionally still breastfeeding.

Initially, you may experience more clotting than usual during your periods. If you have blood clots in your period for at least a week, experts urge getting medical attention.

Are postpartum periods painful?

Following childbirth, some women endure heavier, longer, or more painful periods. 

These alterations might be related to an increased amount of endometrium (the mucous lining the uterus) lost as a result of a larger uterine cavity.