It is very common for your period to be delayed by several weeks, or even months while you are breastfeeding your baby. Know more about when and what to expect on your first period after breastfeeding, in this article.
Pregnancy, and the time after that, is characterized by high amount of hormonal activity. Your body undergoes a sea change after you give birth to your baby. Activities such as breastfeeding triggers the production of certain hormones (prolactin) in your body, while the level of other hormones which control your menstrual cycle starts tapering off. Many women experience a prolonged period of infertility while they are nursing their babies. This time frame can vary for every woman, and is also dependent upon certain other factors. While some women may resume their normal cycle within 6 weeks, others may not get a period for 12 months or more.
When to Expect Your First Period After Breastfeeding
As mentioned above, the resuming of menses after breastfeeding differs for every woman. It is all related to hormones and, as each woman has different levels of hormones, their periods also arrive at different times. Women who exclusively and frequently breastfeed their babies may experience a longer duration of infertility. On the other hand, women who wean their babies at an early age, may find that their period returns a week or two after stopping breastfeeding. Babies that are introduced to solid foods at an early age tend to be less dependent on breast milk alone for their nutritional requirement. As a result, their mothers may get their period earlier than women who exclusively breastfeed their babies for several months.
The frequency and the time during which you breastfeed also determines the arrival of your menses. If your baby does not need a feeding at night, you can expect your period to resume earlier. On the other hand if you nurse your baby every few hours, including nighttime, then your chances of getting a period are delayed by a few weeks. Incidentally, certain physical factors such as proximity to baby at all times also affects the return of menses. Women who hold their babies close to their bodies at all times may experience infertility for a longer time. The strength and time for which your baby sucks your breasts also has a significant impact upon your fertility. Irrespective of all these factors, you may get your period at any time after 6 weeks postpartum.
What to Expect
Your first period after childbirth may or may not be anything like your usual period. It may be lighter than your usual period, or it may be characterized by heavy bleeding. It may only last for a couple of days, or may go on for a week or more. You may or may not have PMS before your period is due. Mild abdominal cramping is also common during this period. In short a few variations from your usual period are considered perfectly normal. However, symptoms such as clotting, severe abdominal pain need to be reported to your OB-GYN immediately.
It is unusual for women to start ovulating normally before their period shows up. However, there have been incidences where women managed to get pregnant within a month of childbirth. Hence, breastfeeding must not be considered as a mode of contraception. While having intercourse, it is recommended that you use some form of contraception (preferably male condom) to avoid subsequent pregnancy. Sexual intercourse must be avoided for at least 6 weeks after childbirth so as to allow the genitals to heal properly. Women who have had C-section must wait for even a longer time to resume sexual activity.
So, if you are a nursing mother then you can expect your period anytime after 6 weeks postpartum. Even if you get your period before that, do not panic as it is perfectly normal. However, if your period does not show up even after months of weaning your baby, you may have to consult your doctor.