Postpartum period: Your first period after pregnancy
Guess who’s back, back again? Your period’s back, tell a friend!
So… it’s been a while. After a slight hiatus (while your uterus has been a little busy growing a human) your period eventually comes back! But when will it return after giving birth, and what will it look like? We’ve answered everything you need to know about your first period after pregnancy below.
When will I get my first period after childbirth?
Waiting to get your period back after pregnancy may feel like anticipating a reunion with an old friend… or like bumping into an annoying acquaintance who you hadn’t missed! No matter how you feel about it, your period will come back in its own time, and there’s no real way to predict exactly when.
If you bottle feed your baby, or do a combination of bottle feeding and breastfeeding, your period could start as soon as 5 to 6 weeks after giving birth, but breastfeeding can delay this . It takes longer if you breastfeed due to the milk-producing hormones that keep your levels of progesterone and oestrogen low – hormones that are also responsible for ovulation and menstruation.
Once your period does return it can take a while for it to get into a regular cycle, and even longer if you breastfeed. Let’s learn more about what your first period might look like, so you know what to expect.
What will my first period after pregnancy look like?
As your body and in particular your V-Zone gets back into the swing of things, your period may be different to what you were used to before pregnancy. At first, you may experience irregular periods, or your periods may be heavier than you’re used to, and have small clots. Any PMS symptoms like menstrual cramps may also feel different than you are used to. Try not to worry about any changes that you notice, as it’s just your body getting into a new natural rhythm.
Be careful not to confuse your first period after pregnancy with lochia, the discharge that you experience after giving birth, which is often quite bloody especially in the days after delivery. Though this might sound scary, it’s just how your body naturally heals after delivery so there’s usually nothing to worry about. To learn more, you can read our article all about discharge after giving birth.
Am I ok to use tampons after giving birth?
When your periods return to some sort of normality, you may want to get back to using tampons if that’s what you’re used to. It’s important to wait at least six weeks before using a tampon or menstrual cup, or you could be at risk of infection . At your postnatal check around six weeks after delivery, you can ask your healthcare provider if it’s ok for you to start using them again once your periods return.
If you have given birth vaginally you might find that you need a larger tampon. This is because your vaginal canal will be looser, at least for a few months, and you may struggle to keep a tampon firmly inside. It may feel strange that your body is different to what you remember, but this is very common, and is just because your body has done a great job to accommodate your growing baby. If this is the case, try the next size up from your usual one. Keep trying until you find the size and absorbency that works best for you, bearing in mind that you should ideally be changing your tampon roughly every four hours.
If you normally use the highest absorbency and find these won’t stay in, you may need to wait until your pelvic floor has strengthened sufficiently to start using tampons again. Ask your doctor about pelvic floor exercises to tighten up your vaginal muscles. Spending a few minutes while you’re waiting in a queue at the supermarket or while watching your favourite television show to exercise your pelvic floor can make all the difference in no time!
You might find you need some extra protection for a while when you start wearing tampons after giving birth. You may prefer to wear a towel or panty liner as well as a tampon to protect your clothing from any accidents. This might happen while you’re still working out what absorbency you need to match your cycle, but it’s all part of the pain and pleasure of life with periods.
How soon after giving birth could I get pregnant again?
You may be able to get pregnant as little as 3 weeks after giving birth, yes even if your period hasn’t started yet! Unless you want to get pregnant again, it’s important to use a form of contraceptive when you eventually decide to have sex after giving birth (which will happen in your own time – just talk to your partner when you feel ready). You can discuss what contraceptives are suitable after giving birth with a health professional before you leave hospital, and also at your postnatal check to find out what the best method is for you.
If you conceived with the help of fertility treatment like IVF, or have been told that you may require fertility treatment in the future and you decide you would like to try to have another child, then you may want to reach out to your fertility doctor a little after giving birth to get the process started.
If you’d like to learn more about what can happen after giving birth, read our articles on discharge after giving birth, and how your vagina changes after pregnancy.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.
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