Welcome to the three Bs of the postpartum period: blood, boobs, and babies.
The postpartum interval (typically defined as 6 weeks after giving birth) is a recovery period that can include all sorts of symptoms, ranging from difficulties with your waste management system (both of the pee and the poop variety) to experiencing pretty debilitating depression.
You’re somehow expected to deal with parenting a newborn, negotiating a body that keeps throwing surprises at you, and navigating all the complexities of producing milk from your boobs.
And here’s something else to add to the mix:
While you may have been enjoying the fact that your period has been on sabbatical for the last 9 months, this has been but a hiatus and not a permanent ceasefire.
Hold on there, body! We’ve just had a baby. Are you seriously thinking of having another one after what we just went through?
Yup, at some point, those ovaries of yours are going to get up to their usual shenanigans like nothing ever happened.
So here’s the first question: when can you expect your first period after pregnancy?
Well, the reality is there’s no simple answer to this question. Different mamas, different bodies, different flows.
Having said that, there are a few factors that may help you determine when you can expect that first period after pregnancy.
So let’s kick things off: When do you get your period after birth?
Table of Contents 📝
- The first period after baby arrives
- How long does it take to get your period after having a baby?
- Can you get your period while breastfeeding?
- What is the first postpartum period like?
The first period after baby arrives
Your period is your body’s way of expelling an unfertilized egg. During pregnancy, your body doesn’t have to worry about performing this task as your ovaries have been given strict instructions to stop releasing eggs. Hence, no period during pregnancy.
Once your baby has decided to move onto their post-womb adventures, however, your body begins its return to its pre-pregnancy self—but this takes a little time.
So, while you might bleed in the first ten days or so after you give birth, this is not a period, per se, as it doesn’t involve an unfertilized egg. This blood typically comes from blood vessels that opened up when the placenta extracted itself from the uterus wall. As your uterus repairs itself, the bleeding will slowly stop.
(HOT TIP: Use sanitary pads rather than tampons at this time to avoid infection.)
How long does it take to get your period after having a baby?
Then there’s the first period you have after giving birth. This is something else. It means that your body has prepared itself for pregnancy again, the egg didn’t get fertilized, and it’s now moving on out.
Before we go any further, listen up, mama:
You can get pregnant soon after giving birth—and even before you’ve had your first period after pregnancy. By the time your period arrives, your body has already been through the ovulation process. If there’s an eligible sperm out there, pregnancy could be on the cards again.
If this is not something you’re after, chat to your doc about birth control options.
So how long after birth do you get a period? While all bodies are different, one factor that can influence how soon you get your first period after baby arrives is whether or not you’re breastfeeding, and how frequently.
Can you get your period while breastfeeding?
If you’re not breastfeeding, your first period after pregnancy is likely to arrive around 6 to 8 weeks after you give birth.
If you are breastfeeding, it’s a little more complicated:
There’s a chance that you won’t experience a period while breastfeeding at all. As in, no period for the entire period. Period.
That’s because the hormone that gets your body producing milk (prolactin) also stops your body from menstruating.
Simple enough? Except for the fact that bodies are never simple.
The reality is, in a supreme act of double duty, you may indeed have a postpartum period while breastfeeding, particularly if you’re not breastfeeding exclusively (as in only at night, for example, or just a few feeds a day).
You might first experience some spotting before your body commits to getting your period going again in full force.
Things to know about having your period while breastfeeding:
- You don’t need to stop breastfeeding if you have a period. It’s perfectly safe to continue.
- Your milk supply may drop a bit. You might have to factor this into how you organize your feeding routine.
- The taste of your milk might change. Those hormones of yours may be serving up a whole new menu for your little one. This might mean that you have to deal with a little bit of fussiness from your little peanut. Sorry, mama!
What is the first postpartum period like?
Your first few periods after birth may be quite different from your normal monthly visitor. You may experience:
- Periods that are more irregular
- Periods that are more intense (more cramps, heavier flow)
- Periods that include blood clots
If you’re worried about anything at all, from incredibly heavy flow to large clots, chat to your healthcare provider to rule out any issues such as fibroids or infection.
That postpartum period
And then there’s postpartum everything else.
Depression can make the postpartum period (whether of the time or menstrual variety!) really challenging because, of course, you’re concurrently busy with the job of parenting a newborn.
It’s important to note that postpartum depression is different from what’s known as the baby blues (feeling sad, exhausted, lonely, and weepy after childbirth), most specifically because it doesn’t go away on its own and typically requires treatment.
Postpartum depression is more common than you might think—as in it may occur in up to 1 in 7 women—and occurs in all sorts of mamas, regardless of age and ethnicity.
If you suspect that this is what you’re going through, don’t try to face it all alone. Speak to your doctor, join a support group and allow yourself to rely on friends and family.
You’ve got this.
You might be interested in:
5 Ways to Advocate for Yourself During Pregnancy and Postpartum
11 Postpartum Sex Tips From Real Moms
Postpartum Bleeding: What’s Normal and What’s Not
Postpartum Preeclampsia: Symptoms, Treatment, and More
Your Guide to Postpartum Swelling
What is Postpartum Thyroiditis?
Your Guide to Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
How to Deal With Postpartum Gas
10 Ideas for a Nutritious Postpartum Diet
A Guide to the Best Types of Postpartum Massage
Postpartum Exercise Tips
An Intro to Postpartum Yoga
What are the Possible Postpartum Complications?
Postpartum Hemorrhoids: What You Need to Know
What’s Causing My Postpartum Headache?