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What to Know About Your Postpartum Menstrual Cycle and First Period After Birth

Curious when your period will return after birth? This post dives into what you should know about the possible return of your menstrual cycle during postpartum.

The postpartum period is a time of physical and emotional transformation for mothers. After you give birth, the body undergoes a series of changes as it recovers. One change that many women wonder about is the return of their menstrual cycle.

Understanding these changes and what to expect can help you confidently navigate this transitional phase.

In this blog post, we will explore when you can expect the return of your menstrual cycle, the factors that influence it, the importance of self-care, and more on your first period after birth. Let’s dive in! 

What happens to the menstrual cycle during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the body experiences many hormonal changes. These changes prevent an egg’s release and the uterine lining’s shedding, pausing the menstrual cycle. Instead, the hormonal shifts in your body adjust to support your pregnancy and growing baby.

When will you get your first period after giving birth?

The timeline for the return of the menstrual cycle after giving birth varies significantly from woman to woman. It can be hard to predict when it will return as several factors can influence it. One of the most significant factors that can control when you restart your menstrual cycle is how you feed your baby.

Not breastfeeding

On average, if you are not breastfeeding, you can expect your period may start again within 6-8 weeks after giving birth. However, for breastfeeding mothers, the timeline may be different.

Exclusively breastfeeding

If you exclusively breastfeed, the return of the menstrual cycle may be delayed for months due to hormonal changes that suppress ovulation. This is referred to as lactational amenorrhea.

Exclusive breastfeeding means that nothing else is given to the baby for nutritional or sucking needs.

More considerations with breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, some factors that can affect when your period may return are individual hormone levels, supplementing with infant formula, your baby starting solid foods, or sleeping longer stretches overnight.

Read next: Know the Common Signs: Ovulation After Giving Birth

There is an extensive range of normal regarding the timeline as everyone’s body is different. It is possible to ovulate before starting your period, so consulting with your medical provider about the options for contraception is essential if you wish to avoid pregnancy.  

Learn more about breastfeeding-friendly birth control options in our Postpartum Hormone Handbook.

What to expect when your menstrual cycle returns

When your menstrual cycle returns after pregnancy, you may experience some changes. At first, your period may be irregular in terms of the duration, the flow, and the symptoms you experience.

It can take a few cycles for your body to establish a regular pattern again, especially if breastfeeding.

See Also

You may also notice changes in the following:

  • The intensity of cramps
  • The duration of the bleeding
  • The presence of clots
  • The amount of blood lost

There is still much research on this topic, but some research shows that having a cesarean section may increase the intensity of period pain and bleeding postpartum. If you are ever experiencing severe pain, heavy bleeding, or large clots, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider. 

Coping with postpartum menstruation 

It’s essential to prioritize self-care, especially when caring for an infant. Here are some tips for coping with the return of your menstrual cycle postpartum:

  • Be prepared: Since the timing of the first period is unpredictable, keep a stash of menstrual hygiene products on hand. You have a variety of options to choose from, including pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and period underwear. 
  • Track your cycle: Monitoring your menstrual cycle can help you understand its pattern and duration. 
  • Self-care: Adequate rest, nourishing meals, proper hydration, and gentle exercise can help support your overall well-being. 

Will the return of my period affect my milk supply if breastfeeding?

Due to hormonal changes, some women notice a dip in supply during certain points of their cycle. This is only temporary, and not everyone will experience these changes.

Some things you can do to help maintain your milk supply are:

  • Frequently breastfeeding
  • Staying hydrated and nourished
  • Prioritizing rest when possible
  • Seeking breastfeeding support if you encounter any challenges

Final thoughts on your menstrual cycle after birth

The return of your menstrual cycle after pregnancy is a natural part of the postpartum journey. It’s important to remember that the timeline for its return can vary significantly among women and is influenced by different factors.

By understanding what to expect, you can navigate this transition with confidence. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for individualized guidance and support. 

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