Periods after Delivery - What to Expect & Common Misconceptions

Periods After Pregnancy

One of the many perks of pregnancy is – no periods for nine months! A pregnant woman enjoys a nice break from this monthly visitor, but once her baby arrives, she can expect her periods to return anytime. If you have recently given birth to an adorable little one, no doubt you must be having a great time with him. And having your periods go on an extended vacation during this time must be keeping you extra happy. But, you can expect your periods after a few weeks of your delivery. In order to know when you can expect your periods after this delivery, read this article. We shall discuss all that you need to know about periods after childbirth.

When Can You Expect Your First Period After Delivery?

You can expect your period to return within 6 to 8 weeks of giving birth, i.e., if you are not breastfeeding your baby. However, if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you may not have your period until you stop breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding here means that your baby is only on breast milk. In some women, periods return within a couple of months of giving birth, whether they are breastfeeding or not.

What to Expect From Your First Period After Giving Birth

The first period after pregnancy is different for different women. It can change massively, less or not at all, and you should be prepared for anything. You may have longer or shorter periods and heavier or lighter flow. You can also expect bleeding and vaginal discharge after giving birth, as they are very common post-pregnancy. Whether you have had a vaginal birth or caesarean delivery, you will experience some amount of vaginal bleeding and discharge after giving birth. This is due to the shedding of extrauterine lining and blood that your body must have acquired during pregnancy. In the initial stages, you may experience heavy bleeding and clots. The bleeding that happens until 42 days after giving birth is lochia, and it changes colour from dark red to whitish discharge in those 42 days. You may have this discharge for up to six weeks, and in case you are breastfeeding your baby, you may expect your first menstrual period after birth around this time.

Why Don’t Breastfeeding Moms Get Their Periods Early?

Most new mothers do not get their periods after delivery while breastfeeding because of the hormonal changes. The hormone prolactin, which is present in breastfeeding moms, is essential for the production of breast milk. This hormone suppresses the reproductive hormones. Therefore, in the dearth of reproductive hormones, no eggs are released for fertilization. Without the egg, there is no menstruation. Thus, breastfeeding moms do not get their periods quickly.

breastfeeding mom

Will Your Period Be Different After Pregnancy?

Be prepared to expect and experience some changes in your period after pregnancy. This is because your body will be in the process of adjusting to your menstrual cycle after delivery. You may experience some of the following:

  • Your period may be more painful than your earlier menstrual cycles.
  • You may have a heavy period after pregnancy in comparison to your usual period.
  • You may experience scantier or less menstrual flow than your normal period.
  • You may experience more or less cramping than usual.
  • You may notice small clots in the blood.
  • Your cycle may become irregular.

The reason for a heavier period after delivery is the increased uterine lining. The shedding of this lining leads to heavier blood flow. In very rare cases, adenomyosis or thyroid, if they are co-existing, may cause heavy bleeding after giving birth.

On the other hand, women who have endometriosis before pregnancy may experience scantier or lighter blood flow after childbirth. There are some other rare medical conditions, such as Asherman’s Syndrome or Sheehan syndrome, which may cause lighter bleeding.

How Long Will Your First Period Last After Giving Birth?

Your first period may last from five to seven days postpartum, which you may be accustomed to. However, some women may experience vaginal bleeding for two to three weeks after giving birth. If you experience vaginal bleeding for more than ten days, it is recommended that you seek medical advice without further delay.

How Will You Know If Something Is Wrong With Your Postpartum Period?

If you notice the below-mentioned symptoms during menstrual cycles post-childbirth, something could be wrong with your periods, and you should seek medical help at the earliest.

  • A fever
  • Bleeding continuously for more than a week
  • Severe and sudden bouts of pain
  • A foul-smelling discharge
  • Bigger blood clots (more than 2 cm in size)
  • Pain while urinating
  • Trouble while breathing
  • A severe headache

All the above-mentioned may be symptoms of any medical complications such as infection or retained placenta. Hence one must consult a doctor at the earliest!

Misconceptions About Periods After Childbirth

There are many misconceptions associated with the return of periods after childbirth. Some of these misconceptions are as follows:

  • Many women assume that vaginal bleeding right after giving birth is their first period after delivery. However, that is not the case. It is not the first period; it is, in fact, postpartum bleeding, which includes the expelling of extra fluids, tissues and blood from the body after delivery. The postpartum bleeding may continue for 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth.

  • It is also believed that breastfeeding is a natural form of contraception and that a woman cannot get pregnant for as long as she is breastfeeding. However, it is not completely true as breastfeeding may provide only 60 per cent of protection against conception. So a woman has a good 40 per cent chance of conceiving even while breastfeeding.

A woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. If you have recently given birth to your little one, your body will take some time to adjust to the usual routine of its menstrual cycle. Your periods will return soon, so don’t panic if you are a few weeks late. Make sure you use contraception When your first period comes, it may be either too heavy or too light – don’t worry, it’s normal. But if you experience anything out of the ordinary in your menstrual period, do not hesitate to seek medical assistance. It is best to seek medical advice and avoid complications.

Also Read: Kegel Exercises After Delivery

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