After your baby is born, one event you might not look forward to is the return of your menstrual periods. Resumption of a regular menstrual cycle is dependent on hormonal changes after delivery, so having a cesarean delivery won't have an impact on when your periods return. Having a cesarean can affect the type of periods you have after delivery, however, since spotting occurs more frequently after cesarean birth. Your period might differ in length, color and amount after giving birth, whether you deliver vaginally or by cesarean.
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When Menstruation Returns
After both cesarean and vaginal delivery, your levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin -- hCG -- drop. But one hormone, prolactin, decreases only if you don't breastfeed. If you bottle-feed, your periods will recur within 12 weeks in 70 percent of cases, but if you breastfeed exclusively, prolactin levels remain high, preventing ovulation on average for 6 months, according to the textbook "Maternal Child Nursing Care." Note, however, that breastfeeding is not foolproof birth control, so use contraceptives if you're not ready for another pregnancy.
Whether you deliver vaginally or by cesarean, you will experience a bloody discharge called lochia for 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. It becomes lighter in color and less copious over time and should not be confused with a period. Women who have had cesarean delivery may experience more spotting and heavier periods due to the surgical incision and repair of the uterine wall. When your periods resume after delivery -- whether vaginal or C-section -- they are likely to differ initially in color, regularity, odor and amount from periods before the pregnancy. Gradually, your periods will become regular again. If periods do not return to normal in a few months, consult your doctor.
- Hysteroscopy: Office Evaluation and Management of the Uterine Cavity; Linda D. Bradley, Tommaso Falcone (eds)
- Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies; Steven G. Gabbe, et al.
- Maternal Child Nursing Care: Shannon E. Perry, et al.
- Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Physiology; Susan Tucker Blackburn