Post-Partum Periods

When it comes your period post-pregnancy, there are a few things you might be wondering, such as when will my period return? What if I’m breastfeeding? Can I still use tampons? Will my period be the same as before pregnancy? In this article, we hope to shed light on some of these common post-partum period questions so that you can feel confident and comfortable when your time of month returns! 


How soon after delivery will my period return?


First off, you will likely experience bleeding for the first 6-8 weeks after delivery but this is NOT a period. This is called lochia. Lochia is the shedding of the remaining pregnancy tissues from the uterus. It typically starts off bright red in colour with large clots before gradually decreasing in volume and becoming more brown or pink after which it stops completely. At this time, it is recommended that only pads be used to allow for proper healing of the vaginal tissues. You can talk to your doctor at your first post-partum checkup about when you can safely restart the use of other menstrual products. 


The timing of your first proper period after pregnancy will depend on whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding your child. Exclusive breastfeeding means the child is given no other nutrition or fluids except for breastmilk, and is fed every 3-4 hours. In this case, it may take up to 6 months or longer for your period to return depending on individual hormone levels and how long you breastfeed for. Breastfeeding delays the return of your period by stimulating the release of a hormone from your brain which acts to inhibit another hormone from being released from your brain which would normally lead to ovulation. Without ovulation, the menstrual cycle will not continue and you likely will not get a period. However, if you are not breastfeeding, your period may return around 6-8 weeks after delivery. 


Will my period be the same after pregnancy?


For some people who menstruate and give birth their period may stay the same, it may get better or it may get worse. Within the first year after delivery, it’s normal for your cycle to be somewhat irregular in terms of frequency, length and severity of bleeding. Many women have reported their first period after pregnancy to be heavier, with clots and more cramping than normal, while other women have reported lighter periods with less cramping. Any of these changes may be considered normal in menstruation after pregnancy. 


However, there are some symptoms to be aware of which are NOT normal post-partum period symptoms. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice: 

  • soaking through a pad more than once an hour

  • severe, sudan onset pain or shortness of breath 

  • Fever

  • foul smelling discharge

  • pain when peeing

Experiencing one or more of these symptoms may be an indication that there is an infection or other complication occurring that may require prompt treatment. 


How soon can I get pregnant again?


It is technically possible to get pregnant again within 3-6 weeks after giving birth, even if you haven’t yet had a period since ovulation occurs before menstruation. While it is possible to get pregnant again quite quickly, research suggests it is safest to wait 18-24 months after delivery to have a subsequent pregnancy in order to reduce the risk of complications for both mother and baby. For this reason, it is important to speak to your doctor about birth control options at your first post-pregnancy check-up.