Here’s how your periods after pregnancy will be different from before

The fact is that your body, after going through 9 months of pregnancy, is now very different. Obviously, your period will not be the same as before.

Myupchar February 25, 2020 18:42:20 IST
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Here’s how your periods after pregnancy will be different from before

Every adult woman gets used to managing her menstrual cycle since that first period arrives during the teenage years. She learns to go with the flow when the pain and discomfort (and the mood swings) visit every month. And then, pregnancy changes everything.

Instead of getting a monthly visit from your painful friend, you experience no periods, lustrous hair and glowing skin (and even the mood swings, we're afraid). But once you’ve delivered your baby and taken your little bundle of joy back home, you might wonder when those periods will come back again. 

Heres how your periods after pregnancy will be different from before

Representational photo

The fact is that your body, after going through 9 months of pregnancy, is now very different. Obviously, your period will not be the same as before, so here’s everything you need to know about menstruating after a pregnancy.

That’s lochia, not your period

Yes, you will experience vaginal discharge right after giving birth, vaginally or through C-section - and it can be quite heavy too. But don’t think for a minute that this vaginal discharge is your period because it’s not. It’s actually something called lochia, the blood and tissue in your uterus that was supporting your baby all these months. 

Now that your baby has been delivered, your body does not need these and discharges them over 4 to 6 weeks. Lochia smells stale and is usually dark red and thick on the first 3-4 days after delivery. You'll need maternity pads instead of regular pads during this time. Over the next few days, it turns lighter in colour and viscosity, and slowly peter out. The biggest mistakes you can make during this period are to wear a tampon or have sex. Nothing should enter your vagina for 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. 

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed

It’s quite difficult to determine exactly when after delivery your first period will start, but it roughly depends on whether or not you are breastfeeding. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), if you bottle-feed your baby from the start or combine bottle-feeding with breastfeeding, your first period could start 5-6 weeks after your delivery. 

On the other hand, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding — which is recommended by the World Health Organization for the first 6 months of your baby’s life — then your first period will not start until you stop breastfeeding. 

Why this variation? Because when you’re lactating, your body produces a hormone called prolactin. This hormone can mess with other reproductive hormones and delays the period until the prolactin production in your body reduces or stops. After the 6-month duration, as you reduce the breastfeedings your baby needs, your other hormone levels will increase as the prolactin levels decrease, and you’ll finally have your first period. 

Your first period after pregnancy is here

No matter when your first period after pregnancy occurs, it is bound to be slightly different from the type of menstruation you've experienced before. According to the NHS, the following are likely to happen:

  • Irregular periods, especially if it starts while you are still partially breastfeeding.
  • Cramping, which could be better or worse than before you got pregnant.
  • Heavier periods are also quite normal after pregnancy.
  • There might be small blood clots in your periods.

It’s important to consult a doctor if the blood clotting lasts for more than a week and if your period is abnormally heavy. It’s equally important to remember that whether or not you have your period, you can still get pregnant after your pregnancy, so you should discuss contraceptives with your doctor for better family planning.

Your breast milk supply and composition will also change as soon as you get your first period after pregnancy. This is because the hormonal changes in your body, which finally restarted your periods, also affects the breast milk. These changes will be minor, and shouldn’t affect your ability to breastfeed your baby at all.

For more information, read our article on Benefits of Breastfeeding.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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