Having a baby is a big deal for a lot of reasons. It’s life changing and exciting. But there are a lot of unanswered questions that go with pregnancy as well. Sometimes it’s easy to find answers in books or online and sometimes it’s a question people just don’t ask that often. It’s easy to forget about how periods after pregnancy might be different when you’re focused on other things.
The truth is there will be some differences. Your hormonal levels will change after you deliver your new bundle of joy and that means your periods will change too. Are you wondering what to expect? We have some answers and tips for you right here. So what are periods after pregnancy really like? Keep reading to find out.
With both vaginal and cesarean deliveries you will have postpartum bleeding. This is known as lochia and it’s not actually a period. It will look and act like one for the most part though, with a few major exceptions. The lochia is helping your body get rid of all the extra blood and tissue it needed while you were pregnant.
The bleeding will be heavier than your average period, especially at first. Some women may get concerned about how much heavier postpartum bleeding is but this is a normal part of the postpartum phase. The bleeding will start out bright red and change color as time goes on. The color change is completely normal.
You’ll probably notice some clots at first as well. Unless the clots are larger than about the size of a quarter it’s all normal. If you pass a very large clot you should give your doctor a call, but don’t be too scared. It’s likely just all part of the process. This is the time to err on the side of caution but trust your doctor’s advice if they say it’s okay after you make that call.
Your First Real Period After Pregnancy
Your first period after you have your baby is likely to come back around 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. If it comes back sooner than that, it’s okay but your doctor may recommend not using any internal products yet. Your vagina has been through a lot and it still needs time to heal. Wait for your doctor’s approval before using tampons or menstrual cups.
If you’re breastfeeding your period may not come back quite as quickly. This is because your body is producing extra hormones to help with breastfeeding. Some of those hormones will change your periods. Some women who are breastfeeding find that they don’t have a period until they stop breastfeeding altogether. Again, ask your doctor if you have concerns.
The first period might be a little heavier than normal. Your body is still getting used to things and the hormone level changes can make your period heavier than usual. You may also experience more intense cramping. If this lasts for several periods, talk with your doctor to make sure all is okay.
When Will My Cycle Be Normal Again?
The truth is your cycle may be unpredictable for quite a while after birth. Having irregular periods for up to a year isn’t uncommon. Sometimes if you’re using hormonal birth control your period may be more predictable earlier than women who aren’t using birth control again yet.
If you are starting to feel like things should be returning to normal and they just aren’t, talk with your doctor. They can either reassure you that this is all normal, or give you advice on why there might be an issue. Either way it will put your mind at ease.
Should I Expect The Changes To Be Permanent?
Most of the time your period will eventually return to what you consider normal. It can be a frustrating process to get back to that point though. Don’t get too upset with your body. It’s been through a lot and you deserve to allow yourself some grace and time to recover.
If you have a big change in your period that doesn’t seem to be resolving, ask your gyno about it. Heavier periods, cramps that don’t get better, or longer cycles are all valid things to ask about. They’ll be able to steer you in the right direction if there is a problem to be resolved.
What Products Will Help Me Get Through This Phase?
When you’re healing after delivery you won’t be able to use products like tampons or menstrual cups. Sometimes that leaves women wondering what is a good idea to use. The good news is there are things you can do to make this time in your life a little more comfortable.
You can use pads if you’re comfortable with that. Just know that for postpartum bleeding you’re going to need larger pads than you’ve been used to using. The hospital will have some available after you deliver. Some brands also make pads that are big enough for postpartum use. Always Overnights are usually a good option if you need an idea.
You can also use period panties or disposable adult incontinence panties. These options might be more comfortable than a giant pad for a lot of people. They also provide a lot of coverage and absorbency. You can check out the reviews we’ve done on period panties to see what brand you might like most.
Just keep in mind that you should wait until your doctor gives the ok before you insert anything into your vagina. That includes tampons, menstrual cups, douching, and even sex.
Final Thoughts On Periods After Pregnancy
This is an exciting time of life but it’s okay to be a little freaked out about all the changes. The good news here is that everything you’re experiencing is normal. It’s normal to have questions and don’t hesitate to call your doctor. They’re used to answering questions from concerned moms after they’ve had a baby. They won’t get mad if you call more often than you normally would.
Even if things feel like they’ll never get back to normal, we promise they will. You’ll be back to yourself before you realize it and you’ll have a cute new baby to enjoy as well.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.