One of the many changes your body will make after childbirth is reestablishing the normal routine of your menstrual periods. The way you are nursing your newborn will affect the time, duration and flow of your first postnatal period. Although it is impossible to predict when you will finally start your first period after childbirth, being prepared beforehand can ease the transition when it does begin.
When It Will Come
It is common to start your first period within three months after giving birth. Keep in mind that this time frame varies, especially if you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding moms may not start their period for up to six months after weaning. If you have not started your period within three months of giving birth and are not breastfeeding, contact your physician. It is possible that you are pregnant, which your doctor can determine through a pregnancy test.
What To Expect
When your first period starts after childbirth, expect it to be heavy and last longer than usual. This is because you have not had a menstrual period for the past nine months, and your body needs to readjust to it, which takes time. The first period may last up to 10 or more days, but each day the flow should decrease. You may have severe cramps. Over-the-counter pain medication and a heating pad can help ease the discomfort.
Bleeding right after childbirth is commonly mistaken as your first period. This is called postpartum bleeding, however, and is not associated with your menstrual cycle. When you give birth, your body must rid itself of the extra fluid, blood and tissue associated with the pregnancy. In return, you will experience about four to six weeks of bleeding, which is called locha. Once you stop bleeding, you should be ready to start your monthly menstrual cycle within a few months. Another common misconception is that because you may not have your period while breastfeeding, you cannot get pregnant. In fact, breastfeeding offers only about 60 percent protection from pregnancy.
Once you begin menstruating again, watch for any unusual symptoms, such as blood clots larger than a golf ball, excessive bleeding that fills a pad or tampon in less than an hour, or extreme pain that doubles you over. This could be a sign of an infection, tubal pregnancy or retained placenta.
- "What to Expect When You're Expecting"; Heidi Murkoff; 2008
- BabyCenter; "When Will I Get My Period Again?"; Susan Toth