First Period After C Section – What to Expect
- Does a C-Section Delay Your Period?
- When Does the Menstrual Cycle Resume After a C-Section?
- Does the First Period Affect Breast Milk?
- What Factors Affect Your Menstrual Cycle After a C-Section?
- What Is the First Period After a C-Section Like?
- Irregular Periods After a C-Section
- Does Tubal Ligation Affect the Menstrual Cycle?
- When To Seek Medical Help?
C-section is a procedure in which a baby is delivered through surgery. Instead of vaginal birth, the delivery takes place via a surgical incision on the uterus and the abdomen of the mother. Having a C-section can often be scary for many women, especially if they feel anxious about surgery in general. They may worry about the delivery of the baby, or even certain health risks to themselves. Today, because of advancement in medical technology and medical care, C-sections are safer but they do pose many risks for the mother. One main question women have is whether periods after a C-section delivery will be affected. Here’s everything you need to know.
Does a C-Section Delay Your Period?
Most women who undergo a C-section wonder whether the surgery can delay their period. A C-section doesn’t delay periods. Periods do return after some time depending on your hormones, health condition, and breastfeeding. However, it does have an effect on the nature of the period. The way your period occurs after a C-section is different.
When Does the Menstrual Cycle Resume After a C-Section?
How long you need to wait for your first period after a C-section primarily depends on your hormones. Post-delivery, hCG, oestrogen and progesterone levels tend to be on the lower side. Breastfeeding is another determining factor.
1. If You’re Breastfeeding
Since breastfeeding impacts hormonal levels, it has an impact on your periods after a caesarean delivery. Prolactin increases and causes a delay in ovulation. So, breastfeeding moms need to wait for at least take six months for their periods to return. If breastfeeding is irregular, periods may also occur in an irregular pattern.
2. If You Aren’t Breastfeeding
If you don’t breastfeed your baby, the prolactin level decreases, causing the periods to happen sooner. In some cases, the first period may occur just six weeks after a C-section. If you don’t get a period for 3 months, it is time to seek a doctor’s advice.
Does the First Period Affect Breast Milk?
When you get your period for the first time after a C-section, there may be a change in the supply of breast milk or your baby’s reaction to the milk. Hormonal changes during this phase can result in:
- A decrease in breast milk supply
- A change in the composition and taste of the milk
- Changes in the number of times your baby nurses
These changes don’t have a major impact on your breastfeeding ability, though.
What Factors Affect Your Menstrual Cycle After a C-Section?
Some of the factors include:
- Lack of rest
- Weight issues
- Complications, if any
What Is the First Period After a C-Section Like?
The first period after a C-section, and how long it lasts, is different from that after a vaginal delivery in the following ways:
1. It Can Be Painful
Due to hormonal changes, some mothers may experience stronger cramps and painful periods post a C-section.
2. It Can Be Heavy
Some mothers experience heavy flow after a C-section due to the incision made on the uterus and the uterine wall. Usually, the flow becomes normal over time. But if it continues, it is advisable to see a gynaecologist.
3. Period can be Lighter and Less Painful
In some cases, a period can be much lighter than usual and it will also not be painful. It was also seen that women who suffered from endometriosis got their period issues resolved after delivery of the baby. A reason that is believed to cause lighter periods after c-section is the increased progesterone levels. The high level helps in balancing oestrogen levels which helps the growth of uterine cells.
4. It Can Last Longer
Generally, the first period after a C-section lasts for a week, but in some cases, bleeding can continue for more than 12 days.
5. It Can Be Bright Red in Colour
If you notice that your flow is bright red, don’t panic! This is the blood that has formed after the surgery and thus, is relatively new.
6. It Can Have Blood Clots
Your first period may also expel bright or dark red blood clots. The anticoagulant released by the body during periods to avoid menstrual blood clotting may not be able to work efficiently, increasing the chances of clot formation.
Irregular Periods After a C-Section
Normally, that is in case of most women who have undergone c-section. It does not take long for the menstrual cycle to be normal again. That is, they get the 28-day cycle soon. But at the same time, in some women, there can be irregular periods as well. This condition may be due to many factors including stress, a thyroid condition, weight loss or even weight gain. In some women who are in their mid-30s, perimenopause can occur earlier, which can cause irregular periods.
Does Tubal Ligation Affect the Menstrual Cycle?
Many women opt for a tubal ligation after a C-section. It’s a procedure in which the fallopian tubes are either cut or blocked to prevent the chances of pregnancy. Tubal ligation does not have any impact on the menstrual cycle after a C-section. In some cases, women who have undergone both a C-section and tubal litigation have experienced heavy bleeding.
When To Seek Medical Help?
You should seek medical help if you experience these during your first period after a C-section.
1. Extremely Heavy Flow
If you end up changing the pad multiple times a day, then it’s time to see your gynaecologist.
If you get a fever along with the first period or after that, then you should visit your gynaecologist.
3. Long-lasting Period
A seven-day period is normal, but bleeding which continues beyond that is not.
4. Severe Pain
If you suffer from unbearable pain and stomach cramps, it’s best to seek medical advice.
If you experience exhaustion throughout the day or display any signs of anaemia, the earlier you see your doctor, the better.
6. Absence of Periods
In the case of breastfeeding women, it can take more than six months for the first period to occur after a C-section. If a period does not occur even after six months, consult your gynaecologist.
1. Can I Get Pregnant Fast After a C-section?
The answer to this question is not necessarily ‘no’, but it is advised to wait at least 6 months before you get pregnant again. The longer you wait, the more your C-section scar will heal, so the safest time period is approximately a year.
2. Why Does Your C-Section Scar Hurt During Period?
You might be experiencing pain as the uterus contracts during a period, thus causing pain to the scar as well. However, if you notice any other symptoms such as swelling or brown leakage from the scar during your period, contact a doctor immediately, as you may have developed scar endometriosis. Don’t panic, as it is a rare instance.
3. How Can I Predict Whether It’s Lochia Or Period?
Lochia occurs the initial days of giving birth, as the body sheds blood and lining. It usually gets lighter in colour as days go by, unlike a period. Additionally, your period will return ideally 6-8 weeks after giving birth.
There will be changes in your body as well as your menstrual cycle after a C-section. The key is to take care of your health, be stress-free and enjoy motherhood. Consult your doctor as and when necessary.
1. When will my periods start again after pregnancy?; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/when-will-my-periods-start-again-after-pregnancy/; April 2021
2. Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186?pg=2; April 2023
3. Do Your Periods Change After Pregnancy?; Cleveland Clinic; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-your-periods-change-after-pregnancy/; May 2019
4. Danielpour. P, Layke. J, Durie. N, et al.; Scar endometriosis – a rare cause for a painful scar: A case report and review of the literature; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851454/; 2010
5. Lochia; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/22485-lochia; March 2022