The average woman will have around 450 periods in her lifetime, which equates to around ten years of her life spent menstruating. So for many of us, pregnancy can be a welcome break from our monthly cycle and symptoms including PMS, cramping and fatigue (even though it can bring with it a whole load of other symptoms).
While some get their period within weeks of giving birth, others may take over a year to menstruate again, depending on whether they are breastfeeding or not. But after such a lengthy break, what will your first postpartum period be like? And what factors impact when it returns? We’ve got the answers to all of your burning questions…
When will my period return after having a baby?
Everyone is different, so when your period returns can vary greatly. If you bottle feed or combination feed formula and breast milk, your period could start as soon as five or six weeks after giving birth. But breastfeeding can delay your periods for much longer, as prolactin- the hormone that causes your body to make breast milk – can stop your body making the hormones that control your periods.
What impacts when periods return after pregnancy?
Frequency of breastfeeding:
The more your baby nurses through the day and night, the less likely it is that your period will return. Gaps of longer than four hours between feeds or pumping allows prolactin levels to drop so you are more likely to ovulate.
Weaning your baby and introducing solid foods when they are developmentally ready may reduce the amount of milk your baby takes or the frequency of the feeds.
Use of bottles or dummies:
Use of a dummy or bottle reduces nipple suckling which can also increase the likelihood of ovulation.
Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Yes, it is still possible to get pregnant again while breastfeeding. If your periods have returned and are close to being regular, then fertility is likely to be close to normal.
If your periods haven’t returned and you would like another baby, have sex regularly throughout the month and you may still be able to conceive. Weaning, if it is right for you and your family, may also cause a quicker return to fertility.
Will my periods be different after having a baby?
Your postpartum periods may be more or less painful than before, may last longer and may be heavier, but everyone’s experience varies.
If you have blood clots in your period or much heavier blood loss than you have had before, you should speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.
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