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One of the good things about pregnancy is not having to deal with periods. However, after staying period free for nine months, you and your body must gear up to get used to the menstrual cycle one again. But the thing is, it is not always a smooth transition to periods after delivery.
Here is all that you need to know about what to expect from your first periods after pregnancy.
Not getting your period after pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about, especially for women who breastfeed. Prolactin is a hormone involved in milk production. This hormone is produced in bulk during the breastfeeding period. As a result of high levels of prolactin, ovulation is delayed. No ovulation means no periods.
So, it is completely normal for women who breastfeed to not menstruate for six months, sometimes longer, after delivery.
For new mothers who can not or choose not to breastfeed for any reason and use formula feed instead, periods may start within four to eight weeks after delivery. This is because their bodies do not have to produce prolactin in bulk so ovulation is not suppressed and resumes as usual sooner rather than later.
Some women use a combination of breastfeed and formula feed for their newborns. Levels of prolactin for these women also vary and they may not get their first period for weeks and months after delivery as well.
In any case, delayed menstruation after childbirth is completely normal.
After delivery, you will most probably experience postpartum bleeding also known as lochia. Lochia is not the same as a period but it is a positive sign.
After childbirth, your uterus prepares itself for a fresh start. Any blood, tissue, amniotic fluid and foetal membranes leftover in the uterus are discarded from the body and this discharge is called Lochia.
It takes place in three steps or stages. Lochia rubra is the first stage and lasts for 3 to 4 days. You can experience mild cramps like in periods along with heavy bleeding. The blood can be dark or bright red in colour and may include small clots.
The second stage lasts for 4 to 12 days and is known as lochia serosa. This stage is characterised by moderate flow of discharge that is pink or brownish in colour. It is thinner than the discharge in lochia rubra and may have no clots at all.
The third and last stage is lochia alba. Discharge is yellowish or white and contains no blood. It lasts from 12 days to 6 weeks. The flow of discharge is slow and may be reduced to simply spotting towards the end.
Getting your first period after childbirth after weeks and months of wait and postpartum bleeding, is not the end of the story. When your menstrual cycle finally starts again, it may not be regular like it used to be. It takes some time for hormones to get back to normal.
It is completely normal to have irregular periods after c-section as well as after vaginal delivery. You may also experience irregular periods during breastfeeding.
If you used to have regular periods before pregnancy, your menstrual cycle will stabilise to a regular pattern within a few months or after you stop breastfeeding.
After childbirth, your period flow may or may not be the same as before. The uterus undergoes a lot of changes during pregnancy and can never really return to the pre-pregnancy shape. So your period may end up getting heavier or lighter. The texture and colour of blood may also change or fluctuate a little.
Changes in the period flow and texture differ depending upon the individual but these changes are usually normal and not a cause for worry.
There are chances of getting pregnant again before you even get your postpartum periods. Periods can only take place after ovulation so there is a window of fertility between ovulation and your first postpartum period during which you can get pregnant again.
While it is true that breastfeeding delays ovulation and periods, there is no guarantee that you can not get pregnant during that time as well.
Since the window of fertility may open up here and there after childbirth, it is advisable to discuss the matter with your doctor to prevent getting pregnant again so soon.
The female body undergoes tremendous amounts of trauma and changes during and after pregnancy which can result in changes in their reproductive cycle. While most of these changes are normal, don't hesitate to contact your doctors in case of any concerns. Make sure to keep up with hygiene and to be patient towards your body during this time to prevent any complications.