That First Period Postpartum
The time between the end of my lochia flow and the start of my first cycle felt like a lovely reprieve from the world of periods and menstrual products after every birth. Of course, I had new challenges to master during those months, like breastfeeding, learning to be a mom, and adding in new children. That time sans period, for me, increased after each subsequent birth.
With Waylon, my period resumed 8 months after his birth (which led to a surprise pregnancy a month later). With Clarence, my period did not resume for 13 months. With Porter, my period did not come back until almost 18 months.
Lots of factors affect when you will start ovulating again, including your own hormone patterns, whether or not you are breastfeeding, and your stress levels. But ultimately, our bodies want to be fruitful and multiply, whether we desire that or not. So what should you expect with that first menstrual flow after baby?
You Can Get Pregnant Before Your First Menstrual Flow…
Because you ovulate before you menstruate, you could get pregnant before your first postpartum flow if you are having unprotected sex. Charting your fertility or having a reliable source of birth control can help prevent this occurrence. Breastfeeding is not a reliable source of birth control. While lactating, our bodies produce prolactin, which can suppress ovulation. However, this does not guarantee that your body will not ovulate. Being aware of your daily temperature, cervical fluid quality, and cervical position can clue you in to when ovulation may be taking place. Many women’s cycles return while they are still exclusively breastfeeding. If you are not breastfeeding, most women see the return of their cycles around 6 - 8 weeks after the birth of their child. If your period starts back up very early, you may want to forgo tampons or menstrual cups until your body has had a longer time to heal from the birth.
Things May Be Different Than The Before Times…
It is not uncommon to find that your postpartum cycle, much like your body, has changed after having a baby (or a second or a third baby). All of the following can be normal, but please seek a medical provider if you have questions or feel concerned:
More cramping (or less)
More blood clots (usually small)
Irregular cycle lengths (especially the first year after it returns)
Flow that seems to start and stop
Varying between heavy and light flow between cycles
Most women, within a year of their period returning, will see their cycles fall in the 21-35 day length range, with bleeding lasting 2 - 7 days. There are many variations of normal, and it is good to know your own patterns. This is another reason fertility awareness can be helpful by ensuring a healthy fluctuation of hormones and ovulation for every cycle.
Please reach out if you have any questions about fertility - whether planning to conceive again, wanting to prevent pregnancy, or just wanting to know more about tracking your own health.
I would also love if you could share this newsletter with a friend. Most of my clients are referrals from past clients, and I am so very grateful for this. So if you have a friend that you believe could benefit from my services, please send them my way. :)
I hope your week goes well!