Periods after pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby
Periods after pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
Why do periods stop during pregnancy?
Each month, your body goes through a cycle of changes to prepare for a potential pregnancy. One of your ovaries releases an egg, hormones prepare the vagina and cervix to support possible sperm, and your uterus thickens to nurture a possible baby. If you don’t become pregnant, on day 28 (on average) the cycle ends and the lining of your uterus sheds — this blood is your period. If you have sex during a cycle and your egg meets a sperm, you can become pregnant. Throughout your pregnancy, your body retains the lining of your uterus, which is why you stop getting your period during this time.
Can I bleed during pregnancy?
Even though your periods stop, you can still experience bleeding during pregnancy. This happens in almost 1 in 4 women for different reasons. Many women who bleed during pregnancy go on to deliver a healthy baby. However, you should immediately contact your doctor or midwife if you notice bleeding from your vagina at any time during your pregnancy.
In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the fertilised egg planting itself in your womb may cause bleeding. This is known as implantation bleeding. It normally only lasts for a few days. However, bleeding during early pregnancy could signal that the fertilised egg has planted itself outside the uterus — this is called an ectopic pregnancy. It could also signal a miscarriage.
In the later stages of pregnancy, vaginal bleeding can have many different causes.
What can I expect after the birth?
In the first few days after birth, it’s normal to have some period-like bleeding as your uterus contracts back to the size it was before pregnancy. Bleeding immediately after birth can be fairly heavy. It can also be bright red for the first couple of days, but gradually becomes a brownish colour before it stops after about 2 months. Bleeding might be heavier in the morning when you get up, after breastfeeding or after exercise.
Uncontrolled heavy bleeding after birth, called a postpartum haemorrhage, can be a serious concern.
If you've given birth more than 24 hours ago, contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you notice:
blood that soaks more than one pad every 1 to 2 hours
a sudden increase in blood or large clots
blood which suddenly turns bright red in colour
dizziness, weakness or trouble breathing
anything else that seems unusual about your post-birth bleeding
When will my period return?
After birth, your periods will return at your body’s own pace. If you bottle feed your baby, you’ll tend to resume regular ovulation and your period sooner than if you exclusively breastfeed. If you choose to breastfeed exclusively, your first period may not return for several months — sometimes, it might not even return for 1 to 2 years if you keep breastfeeding. If you choose to bottle feeding or partially breastfeed your baby, your periods may return as soon as 3 weeks after childbirth.
Does breastfeeding affect my periods?
Not having your period while you're breastfeeding is known as lactational amenorrhea. How long it lasts depends on how often you breastfeed and when you introduce other food into your baby’s diet.
It’s hard to predict when your period will return after you give birth — and how you feed your baby is only one factor that influences this. However, once your body begins releasing eggs again, you can get pregnant even before you actually have your first period after giving birth. There are several safe contraception options you can consider while breastfeeding, but speak to your doctor for advice before resuming sexual activity.
Will a period affect the taste of my breastmilk?
Ovulation and menstruation mean hormonal changes are occurring in your body. These may affect both your breastmilk’s taste and supply. If you notice that your baby fusses at your breast when you have your period, it might just be a sign that it tastes different.
When is it OK to use tampons again after pregnancy?
It's best not to use tampons until after you attend the medical check that occurs 6 weeks after you give birth. If your normal periods return before this, use a sanitary pad until your doctor gives you advice.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
Royal Women's Hospital Melbourne (About periods), Health Department Victoria (Bleeding in early pregnancy fact sheet), The Royal Women's Hospital (Bleeding in early pregnancy), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (The first few weeks following birth), Mater Mother’s Hospital (After birth – care of the new mother), Fertility and Sterility (The resumption of ovulation and menstruation in a well-nourished population of women breastfeeding for an extended period of time), Queensland Clinical Guidelines (Bleeding after birth), The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Management of Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH)), Australian Breastfeeding Association (The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) for postpartum contraception), National Health and Medical Research Council (Infant Feeding Guidelines)
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Last reviewed: July 2020
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Sex after having a baby
Mum's first few days after giving birth
Bleeding during pregnancy
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First Period After Pregnancy: What to Expect
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — By Chaunie Brusie on February 28, 2018
From glowing skin to a newfound appreciation for your body, there are many things to love about pregnancy. Another is that you’ll have at least nine months of freedom from your period. But after you deliver, you’re probably curious what will happen with your menstrual cycle.
When your period returns often depends on whether or not you breastfeed. And just like your life after baby, you might find your periods after pregnancy are somewhat different.
When will my period return?
Your period will typically return about six to eight weeks after you give birth, if you aren’t breastfeeding. If you do breastfeed, the timing for a period to return can vary. Those who practice exclusive breastfeeding might not have a period the entire time they breastfeed. “Exclusive breastfeeding” means that your baby is receiving only your breast milk. But for others, it might return after a couple of months, whether they’re breastfeeding or not.
If your period does return quickly after giving birth and you had a vaginal delivery, your doctor might recommend that you avoid using tampons during your first menstruation post-baby.
This is because your body is still healing, and tampons could potentially cause trauma. Ask your doctor if you can return to using tampons at your six-week postpartum checkup.
Why don’t breastfeeding women get their periods as quickly?
Typically, women who are breastfeeding don’t get their periods as quickly because of the body’s hormones. Prolactin, the hormone needed to produce breast milk, can suppress reproductive hormones. As a result, you don’t ovulate or release an egg for fertilization. Without this process, you most likely won’t menstruate.
Will my period affect my breast milk?
When your period does return, you may notice some changes in your milk supply or your baby’s reaction to breast milk. The hormonal changes that cause your body to have your period may also influence your breast milk.
For instance, you might notice a decrease in your milk supply or a change in how often your baby wants to nurse. The hormone changes might also affect your breast milk’s composition and how it tastes to your baby. These changes are usually very minor, however, and shouldn’t affect your ability to breastfeed your baby.
What about birth control?
Some use breastfeeding as a natural birth control method. According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant annually if they’re engaging in exclusive breastfeeding. Even though breastfeeding reduces your fertility, it’s not an absolute guarantee you won’t get pregnant again.
The key here is exclusive breastfeeding. Other than breast milk, no fluids or solids are given to the baby with exclusive breastfeeding. Even water. Supplements or vitamins don’t interfere and can be given to the baby. Breastfeeding that doesn’t fit this description might not protect against another pregnancy.
If you’re breastfeeding and your period does return, you’re no longer protected against getting pregnant. It’s also important to note that it can be difficult to predict the return of fertility. You will ovulate before your period starts, so it’s entirely possible to get pregnant again before your period returns.
Safe and effective birth control methods are available for those who are breastfeeding. Nonhormonal options such as the copper intrauterine device (IUD), condoms, and diaphragms are always safe for breastfeeding.
There are also some hormonal birth control options that are considered safe during breastfeeding. Your doctor can provide the latest updates on specific types of birth control. In general, low-dose combination pills that contain estrogen and progestin are considered safe after you’ve healed from birth. Progestin-only pills are also safe to use while breastfeeding.
How might my period be different postpartum?
When you do start your period again, chances are the first period after delivery won’t be like your periods before you got pregnant. Your body is once again adjusting to menstruation. You may experience some of the following differences:
cramping that might be stronger or lighter than usual
small blood clots
flow that seems to stop and start
irregular cycle lengths
The first period after your pregnancy may be heavier than you’re used to. It might also be accompanied by more intense cramping, due to an increased amount of uterine lining that needs to be shed. As you continue your cycle, these changes will likely decrease. In rare cases, complications such as thyroid problems or adenomyosis can cause heavy bleeding after pregnancy. Adenomyosis is a thickening of the uterine wall.
Women who had endometriosis before pregnancy might actually have lighter periods after giving birth. Light periods can also be caused by two rare conditions, Asherman syndrome and Sheehan syndrome. Asherman syndrome leads to scar tissue in the uterus. Sheehan syndrome is caused by damage to your pituitary gland, which may be the result of severe blood loss.
What causes mildly painful postpartum periods?
Mildly painful postpartum periods can be caused by a combination of several factors. They include:
increased intensity of uterine cramping
the hormones of breastfeeding
the uterine cavity becoming larger after pregnancy, which means there’s more uterine lining to be shed during menstruation
What should I expect from my first period postpartum?
Whether you delivered your baby vaginally or by cesarean delivery, you can expect some bleeding and vaginal discharge after giving birth. Your body continues to shed the blood and tissue that lined your uterus while you were pregnant.
In the first few weeks, blood might be heavier and appear in clots. As the weeks go by, this blood gives way to vaginal discharge known as lochia. Lochia is bodily fluid that can appear clear to creamy white to red in color.
This discharge can continue for about six weeks, which is about the time your period may return if you aren’t breastfeeding. If your discharge had the appearance of lochia, stopped for some time, and then you experienced a return of bleeding, this is likely your period. If you aren’t sure if the bleeding you’re experiencing is pregnancy-related or your period, there are a few ways to tell:
Lochia isn’t usually bright red in color beyond the first week postpartum. It’s usually lighter and can be watery or white in appearance. Bright red bleeding that occurs six or more weeks after delivery is more likely to be your period.
Pregnancy-related bleeding can increase with increased exertion or activity. If your discharge increases with exertion and decreases when you rest, it’s more likely to be lochia.
Lochia also tends to have a distinct odor. Lochia may have a “sweet” smell to it, since it’s mixed with leftover tissue from the pregnancy. Report any foul order to your doctor.
It can also take some time for your cycle to regulate after birth. You might find that you have your first period, skip a cycle, and then have another period that comes sooner than expected.
During your first postpartum year, it can be normal for your periods to fluctuate in length, time between cycles, and intensity of bleeding. This is especially true if you’re breastfeeding.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, most postpartum women will have a “normal” menstrual cycle of 21 to 35 days with bleeding that lasts 2 to 7 days. Period cycles can change from what you experienced before pregnancy.
What postpartum symptoms should I watch out for?
It’s important that you call a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
soaking through more than one pad every hour
bleeding that’s accompanied by sudden and severe pain
a sudden fever
bleeding continuously for more than seven days
blood clots that are bigger than a softball
pain while urinating
Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms or anything else that concerns you related to your period. Some of these symptoms may indicate an infection.
A return to your menstrual cycle is just one of the parts of recovery and returning to your prepregnancy body. In some, menstruation may be delayed due to the hormone increases associated with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding as a form of contraception isn’t foolproof. Having a backup method, such as oral contraception or a condom, can help provide further protection. You can find a great selection of condoms here.
If anything seems out of the ordinary about your first period after pregnancy, contact your doctor. Excess bleeding or indications of infection are especially concerning for a new parent. Listen to your body and play it safe.
Parenthood How-To: DIY Padsicle
The first days in the hospital - articles from the specialists of the clinic "Mother and Child"
Bogomolova Marina Vadimovna
Clinic "Mother and Child" St. Petersburg
Immediately after childbirth
Immediately after the birth of the child is placed on the mother's stomach , then the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is applied to the mother's breast. Then the skin of the newborn is cleaned, its length and weight, head and chest circumference are measured. The doctor examines the birth canal, if necessary, sews up tears in the soft tissues of the birth canal, assesses the tone of the postpartum uterus, and helps the woman empty her bladder. But even after all these standard manipulations, the mother is not transferred to the postpartum ward, another for two to three hours, the puerperal stays in the maternity block . Why? In the first two hours after childbirth, some complications are possible, primarily uterine bleeding or an increase in blood pressure. Therefore, during these two hours, the mother lies on a stretcher or a bed in the maternity ward, since doctors and midwives are constantly there, and the operating room, in which case, is also located nearby. The child at this time is usually taken to the children's department, where he most often sleeps. And only two hours later, if everything is fine, the mother is transferred to the postpartum ward.
How does a woman feel at this time? Chills may occur, abdominal pain may occur, especially in multiparas.
What should a woman do at this time? Relax and unwind. Take shelter so as not to freeze, especially if chills appear. Place an ice pack on the uterus. If possible, ask the midwife to bring hot tea.
1st day after birth0009 postnatal midwife . She will tell you about the arrangement of the department (where the shower, toilet, dining room are), about the daily routine (the time for visiting doctors, eating) and will help the young mother, if necessary, to empty the bladder using a catheter. If a woman lies together with the baby, then immediately after the transfer to the postpartum ward, the child will be brought to her. The midwife will help the mother to properly attach the baby to the breast and start breastfeeding. Then nurse will come and show you how to swaddle your baby and explain how to take care of him. Do not be afraid that after childbirth there will not be enough strength for the child: most newborns sleep most of the day and wake up only for feeding. In addition, in the maternity hospital, the child is usually washed and dressed by nurses, so that the woman will have enough time to relax. If there is no joint stay of mother and child in the maternity hospital, then every three hours they will bring him to the ward for feeding, and then take him back to the children's department. Over time, the woman herself will pick up and carry the child.
How does a woman feel at this time? On the first day after giving birth, women feel differently. Some experience an incredible elation (this is due to the release of endorphins into the blood - the hormones of pleasure), while others, on the contrary, feel very tired. Some want to call all their friends and announce the birth of a child, they are inspired, full of energy and ready to take care of the baby on their own. Other mothers want to be alone and come to their senses, they still do not have the strength to constantly be with the child.
What should a woman do at this time? In any case, immediately after childbirth, as after any heavy load, you need to restore strength: first eat, and then go to bed or just relax. By the way, the following situation is possible: the birth occurred in the evening or at night, and dinner time has already expired; therefore, in order not to starve, you need to bring something light for a snack (cookies, bread rolls) with you to the hospital in advance.
6 hours after birth, the mother can usually get out of bed.
In general, if the childbirth went without complications, then you should start getting up as early as possible, first with the help of a midwife, and then on your own.
This helps to improve blood circulation, normalize the functioning of the urinary system and intestines, and accelerate healing processes. In addition, very soon the baby will require more attention.
Important point: After childbirth, the tone of the bladder decreases, so the urge to urinate may be absent or it may become painful and frequent. However, you should go to the toilet at least four times a day. Urination can be caused reflexively by opening a tap with water, this helps many people a lot. In the absence of the desired effect, urine is removed by a catheter. Most often there is no stool on the first day after birth.
Every day, the mother will be examined by an obstetrician-gynecologist : he will evaluate the contraction of the uterus, the condition of the sutures and the amount of discharge, see if colostrum is secreted. The midwife will regularly measure the temperature, pulse, blood pressure and treat the external stitches with disinfectant solutions several times a day. Also, every day the baby will be watched by a pediatrician, after which he will tell his mother about the condition of the child. After a normal birth, a woman, as a rule, is discharged on the 3rd-4th day (after a caesarean section - on the 5th-6th).
How does a woman feel at this time?
After childbirth, a woman may experience pain in the abdomen due to uterine contractions, as well as slight muscle pain in different parts of the body. On the face and on the whites of the eyes, a “rash” may appear - pinpoint hemorrhages that appear due to the fact that small capillaries burst during attempts from tension. Blood pressure can be lowered, so dizziness is possible (to avoid it, you should get up smoothly, without sudden movements). There may be pain in the perineum, even if there were no tears and its incision (pain appears because the perineum was severely stretched during childbirth). If the perineum is sutured, then it will not be possible to sit for at least the first two weeks. Sometimes after childbirth, varicose veins appear in the anus (hemorrhoids), which means discomfort in this place.
What should a woman do at this time? Mom needs to continue to rest and gain strength. And you should also follow the rules of personal hygiene: often change postpartum pads, do air baths for seams (if any), take a shower daily, wash yourself every time after a bowel movement. Well, the most important thing is to establish breastfeeding and learn how to take care of the baby in practice.
Time in the maternity hospital flies very quickly. Try to spend it usefully - restore your strength and acquire useful skills: at home, all this will be very useful to you!
Things to do at the maternity hospital
Have a good rest: sleep all your free time and eat well.
Get complete information about your child's condition: so ask your pediatrician all your questions.
Establish contact with the child: therefore, spend as much time with the baby as possible, ideally being with him all the time. Take the baby in your arms, unfold the diapers, carefully examine the baby without clothes.
Learn how to take care of your baby: so ask your baby nurse to show you how to wash your baby, change clothes, swaddle, change diapers, clean ears and nose, cut nails.
Establish breastfeeding: To do this, feed your baby on demand. Ask the midwife to show you how to properly hold the baby at the breast, how to give and take away the breast.
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Recovery of the female body after childbirth
What happens to the female body after childbirth? How to quickly recover after childbirth? These questions concern all mothers.
9 months of pregnancy behind and after childbirth you have to take care not only of the baby, but also take care of your own health. And there is a lot of “work” here - while the hormonal background is being restored, it is necessary to maintain normal bowel function, take care of the stitches after childbirth, if there were any, and establish breastfeeding. Where to begin?
Recovery after childbirth is an important process that affects the further state of health. Complications may appear in the first hours after childbirth - bleeding, fever, changes in blood pressure, etc.
The postpartum period consists of 2 periods - early and late. The early one lasts 2 hours after the birth and takes place under the supervision of the staff of the maternity hospital. Late lasts approximately 6-8 weeks, during which there is a restoration of all organs and systems that were involved during pregnancy and childbirth. Full recovery from childbirth can take up to two years. Especially if the baby was born by caesarean section. Some changes are irreversible, but outwardly they are invisible (except for stretch marks), they can be determined by gynecologists during an examination of the genital organs (the shape of the cervix and external os changes, the size of the uterus and vagina changes).
After childbirth, the uterus is enlarged, and as the body recovers, it shrinks in size. Depending on the variant of delivery and feeding, this process can take place at different speeds. If the birth went naturally and the mother is breastfeeding the baby, the uterus will quickly return to its normal size. The contraction of the muscles of the uterus is stimulated by the hormone oxytocin, which is released during sucking movements. The process of feeding may be accompanied by pain of varying intensity in the lower abdomen, possibly a slight increase in blood secretions. But discomfort will be felt only at first.
Immediately after the birth of the baby, the weight of the uterus reaches about 1 kilogram. And after 2 months, during which it is actively reduced in size, the weight of the uterus is about 50 grams
40 days after birth
After childbirth, blood discharge begins - lochia. They last approximately 4-6 weeks. You should not be afraid - this is not a sign that something is wrong with the body. On the contrary, this is a consequence of the gradual healing of the wound surface on the walls of the uterus, which was formed after childbirth. During the entire period of recovery, the nature of lochia changes. Discharges from moderate blood flow to bloody scanty and then become mucous with streaks of blood.
During this time, avoid using tampons and shower regularly to prevent infection in the genital tract.
A young mother must watch her discharge. Warning signs are too much bleeding, a sudden increase in discharge, a sharp unpleasant odor, a change in color, too large blood clots, cheesy or purulent discharge. If at least one of these signs is observed, it is urgent to see a gynecologist.
Even during pregnancy, doctors recommend doing Kegel exercises. The same exercises help to quickly restore the tone of the muscles of the vagina after childbirth.
The level of hormones changes even during pregnancy. They are headed by progesterone, estrogen and HCH (human chorionic gonadotropin), as well as prolactin and oxytocin. After childbirth, the hormone prolactin is responsible for the start of breastfeeding. The level of prolactin gradually rises during pregnancy, and by the onset of childbirth, it reaches the required level for the initiation of breastfeeding. Oxytocin is responsible for emptying the mammary glands.
Hormonal imbalance after childbirth is common. Basically, things will stabilize for some time without outside interference. But if a few months after the birth, the hormonal background has not returned to normal, you should contact a gynecologist-endocrinologist to tell him how to restore it. As a rule, hormonal preparations are prescribed in such cases. They are selected individually for each girl.
Signs of hormonal imbalance
depression, irritability, apathy;
active hair loss/excessive hair growth;
sudden change in weight.
On the first day after childbirth, there may be a problem with urination. The reason that the mother cannot urinate may be the pressure of the fetal head on the bladder during childbirth, which leads to swelling, or a spasm of the sphincter of the bladder. You can induce urination with the help of a reflex from the sound of pouring water, in extreme cases, a catheter or diuretics are used for this.
There is also the opposite problem - urinary incontinence. It usually occurs in those who give birth not for the first time. This is due to the weakening and stretching of the pelvic floor muscles. The problem with incontinence may go away on its own after a few days. But to improve muscle tone, it is recommended to do Kegel exercises.
The first stool after childbirth comes in 2-3 days. This is due to the fact that an enema is done before childbirth. Doctors in the maternity hospital ensure that the emptying of the intestines in women in labor occurs regularly, if necessary, special stimulating suppositories (for example, glycerin ones) are issued. With proper nutrition, bowel function is usually restored fairly quickly. After a caesarean section, it can take up to several weeks to restore gastrointestinal motility. Also at this time, liver function is normalized, which is reflected in the normalization of biochemical blood tests.
After childbirth, the mother's nervous system encounters new unusual sensations. Depending on life circumstances, stimuli are different. Those who have a first child are worried about how they will take care of the baby, the awareness of motherhood comes and a huge responsibility piles up. For those who already have children, there are also enough reasons for concern - how older children will react to a new family member, how to do everything in time, when to relax ...
The process of giving birth, inevitably accompanied by pain and strong emotions, is always stressful for a new mother. It is not surprising that in the postpartum period, many mothers are on the verge of a breakdown, and someone can not stand it and breaks down. Relatives, especially the husband, can help in this situation. As well as psychological consultations, which can be obtained free of charge at the antenatal clinic or at the maternity hospital.
Stitches after childbirth
Depending on the circumstances, doctors apply different suture materials to tears or incisions: absorbable, non-absorbable and metal staples. The first, as the name implies, resolves on its own after 5-7 days and does not entail further medical intervention, and the remaining two require subsequent removal after 3-6 days.
Cervical sutures are easy to care for, just normal hygiene as described below is sufficient. The nurses begin to process the stitches in the maternity hospital with brilliant green or potassium permanganate, and then, after they are removed or resorbed, the mother herself monitors healing at home. For the speedy healing of stitches, it is also useful to take air baths.
If there are stitches, do not sit for several days, or sit in a certain position with support on the side where there are no stitches. Although this is unusual, some mothers will have to lie down, reclining or standing for some time.
How to recover quickly after childbirth
Every mother wants to get her body back to normal as soon as possible. Hurrying up and turning a blind eye to suspicious phenomena is not the best way out, since subsequently these tricks can greatly affect health in the future, even years later.