When To Expect First Period After Birth When Breastfeeding?

New moms sometimes believe that if they exclusively breastfeed, they may prevent getting their period. However, it is just a myth, bringing to the question of when to expect the first period after breastfeeding?

The truth is that you will begin menstruation shortly after childbirth. Your postpartum menstruation may begin as soon as a few weeks after birth. However, there are instances when women might not be menstruating, even after prolonged lactation. This condition is called lactational amenorrheaiXAbsence of menstrual period in women, either temporarily or permanently (1). The lactational amenorrhea method is a lactational infertility that relies on the body’s natural mechanism of preventing ovulation while breastfeeding.

Continue reading to learn more about breastfeeding and menstruation.

In This Article

Return Of Period While Breastfeeding

Your period shall return after the birth of your baby. If you are not breastfeeding, you can expect your cycle to return within 3 months. However, it might vary from mother to mother (2).

  • Even if you are nursing, you can get back your periods. However, in some cases, your menstrual cycle may get delayed by about a year when you are breastfeeding. This delay occurs due to the increased prolactin release that inhibits estrogen levels required for ovulation, thus resulting in menstrual suppression.
You can get back your period even when nursing

Image: Shutterstock

  • When you are nursing round the clock, you can expect your cycles to stay away for greater lengths. Again, when you are not feeding so or offer the baby a pacifier and start weaning, you may start menstruating.
  • In some cases, menstrual return may be delayed for a few months unless you have stopped breastfeeding completely.
  • Once your period returns, it will continue every month. It will not stop or discontinue even if you start breastfeeding again.

Jeannie, a mother of four, shares her experience with her first period after giving birth on her YouTube channel. She says, ” With this baby, I just got it at 8 months postpartum. About a week before I got it, my back was so sore and killing me, and I was probably ovulating. About two weeks later, I got my period, and it was super heavy and super awful. I was sweaty, bloated, my back hurt, and it lasted a while ().’’

protip_icon Quick fact
Small blood clots during the first menstrual period after birth are normal, but large clots the size of a golf ball or a plum require medical attention (7).

Breastfeeding While You Are Menstruating

Often, mothers have the misconception that breastfeeding during menstruation is not a right thing to do.

  • Infant feeding while having periods doesn’t cause any harm to them.
  • The quality of your breast milk remains the same.
  • The taste of your breast milk may change because of hormonal imbalance or changes that your body undergoes.
  • Sometimes, you may notice a decrease in the milk supply. These occasional changes can make your little one a bit fussy. There is nothing to worry about. It’s all a natural phenomenon (3).
  • If you feel your milk production reduces while you have your periods, you might try to spend more time with your baby skin to skin or offer the breast more frequently.
  • You can also talk to your doctor about mineral and vitamin supplies to ensure your little one is getting sufficient milk.
Consult your doctor about vitamins

Image: Shutterstock

  • You may also notice sore nipples. It is a condition that you may experience because of your menstruation cycle.
  • It might get a little difficult for you to breastfeed your baby once your period starts, mostly because of the physical pain the phase brings with it.
  • Try to apply coconut or olive oil to release soreness. Regular breastfeeding helps maintain a good supply of milk and also reduces the chances of problems like engorgementiXEnlargement, swelling, or tightness felt in breasts due to milk retention , mastitisiXSwollen, hot, or painful breasts due to bacterial infection , blebsiXFluid-filled blisters and plugged milk ducts.

protip_icon Quick fact
A temporary drop in milk supply may occur a few days before a woman’s periods start, but supply normalizes once hormones return to normal (11).

First Period After Breastfeeding

After pregnancy, the first period may vary in intensity among women. It’s common to experience irregularities initially, with periods eventually becoming heavier or more intense. While some mothers may notice it while breastfeeding, others might experience it as they reduce feedings. Some women may also experience delayed or missed periods. Don’t fret; this is common, and your periods should typically return to normal within a few months.

Additionally, some women may observe increased cramping and PMS symptoms post-weaning. On the flip side, others notice a shift towards more regular periods with fewer PMS symptoms after pregnancy. These variations are also normal and part of the postpartum experience (5).

With the return of your periods, returns your fertility. You need to keep in mind that your chances of getting pregnant remain high even when you have not started menstruating. Strange it may sound, but the human body doesn’t follow a stringent rule. Here are few points you should learn about (4):

  • You may start ovulatingiX A stage in the female menstrual cycle when a mature egg is released from the ovary even before your period begins.
Ovulation may start before your due cycle

Image: Shutterstock

  • In case you are not adopting the birth control measures, you may expect again without getting the first postpartum period.
  • If you do not wish to plan another pregnancy, rely on contraceptives.
  • You can talk to your doctor about the birth control options. Make sure to tell the doctor about the type of birth control you use, since it might interfere with your milk production.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is the first period after giving birth heavy?

Yes, the first period after you give birth to your baby will be heavier than usual. This blood is called lochia, a mix of uterine tissue and blood (6) (7).

2. Is the first period after delivery brown?

Yes. The first period after delivery may be brown or fresh red. In a few days, it turns dark brown or pinkish-red. Gradually, it becomes lighter and disappears (8).

3. Can I use tampons for the first period after birth?

No. Since the wound at the site where the placentaiXA temporary organ that develops during pregnancy and provides the fetus with oxygen and nutrients and the uterine wall join and the vaginal tear still have to heal, you cannot use tampons until you have had your six-week postnatal checkup (9).

4. Will my first period after birth be more painful?

Some women may experience a more painful first period because they may have a larger uterine cavity shedding more endometriumiX The inner lining of the uterus or uterine cavity (10).

It is not known when exactly does your menstruation return after childbirth. Several factors may determine the resumption of menstruation after delivery. Breastfeeding mothers may get their periods back a little later than the mothers who do not breastfeed. The return of menstruation may be further delayed for mothers who exclusively breastfeed. However, it is unique, and some exclusively breastfeeding mothers may see the resumption of their periods sooner than others. It is best to use contraceptives if you do not wish to get pregnant again soon. Also, breastfeeding cannot be considered a reliable contraceptive method.

Infographic: What Conditions Cause Change In Periods After Childbirth?

Periods may change after childbirth. Some women may experience heavier periods, while others experience lighter periods. This infographic shares possible reasons for these changes to help mothers stay informed. Read the infographic and share it with nursing mothers who got their periods back recently.

conditions that may affect period after childbirt (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Lactating women typically resume their regular menstrual cycle within three months after giving birth.
  • Breastfeeding may cause lactational amenorrhea, where some women do not menstruate.
  • Menstruation may alter the taste of breastmilk due to hormonal changes, but it does not impact the baby.
  • Consult a doctor before choosing a birth control method as it may affect milk production.
when to expect first period after breastfeeding_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

My period came back while breastfeeding and I’m not sure what to do! Learn how to manage your period while breastfeeding in this helpful video.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
    1. Postpartum birth control.
      https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/postpartum-birth-control#:~:text=Lactational%20amenorrhea%20method%20(LAM)%20is
    2. Menstruation.
      https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/menstruation/
    3. When will my periods start again after pregnancy?.
      https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/when-will-my-periods-start-again-after-pregnancy/
    4. Periods while breastfeeding.
      https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/breastfeeding-and-periods
    5. 4 Things That Might Surprise You About Weaning.
      https://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/motherhood/the-first-year/4-things-that-might-surprise-you-about-weaning
    6. Postpartum Discharge Instructions.
      https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/postpartum-mood-disorders-what-new-moms-need-to-know
    7. Will my period change after pregnancy?
      https://utswmed.org/medblog/period-changes-after-pregnancy/
    8. Bleeding after birth: 10 things you need to know.
      https://www.nct.org.uk/life-parent/your-body-after-birth/bleeding-after-birth-10-things-you-need-know
    9. How soon can I use tampons after giving birth?
      https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/how-soon-can-i-use-tampons-after-giving-birth/#:~:text=You%20should%20not%20use%20tampons
    10. Do Your Periods Change After Pregnancy?
      https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-your-periods-change-after-pregnancy/
    11. Periods while breastfeeding
      https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/breastfeeding-and-periods
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