Your First Postpartum Periodby Elizabeth MacDonald
You’d be surprised, but there is not a specific timeframe in which you can expect Aunt Flow to show back up after having a baby. Every woman’s body is different and breastfeeding plays a huge role. Generally speaking, without breastfeeding, you may see your period within 2 months of giving birth, but nursing your baby throws a huge wrench in that expectation!
Your First Postpartum Period
Breastfeeding delays the onset of your menstrual cycle, leaving you with no idea when it will return. There are multiple factors that come into play:
Genetics and Hormonal Makeup. You may just be ridiculously fertile and start cycling again no matter what.
Scheduling Your Baby. A baby on a feeding schedule prevents your body from naturally responding to your baby’s cues. This may trigger your cycle to start sooner than it naturally would have if you fed on demand.
Pumping. The body responds different to a pump than it does to your baby. Again, this may mean your body starts having periods again sooner than you were hoping!
Breastfeeding on Demand. Nursing your baby around the clock without a schedule will have the most impact and allow for naturally stair-stepping your pregnancies.
Sleeping Through the Night. The 3am nursing (or pumping) session has been linked to a mother’s fertility. Once you end those nightly nursing times, your cycle may start again.
Solid Foods. If your baby loves to eat real food, it may mean that she drops a few nursing sessions. The drop in demand will eventually level out your supply, triggering the start of your cycle.
Extended Breastfeeding. If your cycle has not returned after solid foods were introduced, and still not after your baby has hit a year old, and you are still breastfeeding, you may not see it again for quite awhile. Many moms go 2 years without a period while nursing their toddler.
The Vanishing Period. You may start and stop your cycle several times if you are breastfeeding. You can go months in between cycles. It’s all normal. Annoying, but normal.
The longer you go without a period, the scarier it is to think about what your body is going to do to you when it does actually try to start being fertile again. Will you bleed to death? Will the cramps leave you in bed for a week? How long will it last?
What to Expect
Here are a few things you may experience during your first few periods after pregnancy:
Heavy Flow. Don’t expect your period to be the same as pre-pregnancy. Depending on how much time has gone by, your body has to rebalance everything out. This means that your uterus could need to shed quite a bit.
Longer Cycles. Just as mentioned above, more blood takes more time to expel. Your first few cycles may be longer than any you’ve had pre-pregnancy.
Irregular Cycles. You may have 60 days between your first and second cycle. Or you may have 40. Or you may have 80. The point being: do not expect anything regular (especially if you are still breastfeeding) for at least 3-4 cycles postpartum.