When To Expect First Period After Birth When Breastfeeding?

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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 menstruation may begin as soon as a few weeks after birth. However, there are instances when women might not be menstruating, even if they are completely breastfeeding. This condition is called lactational amenorrhea (1).

Continue reading to learn more about breastfeeding and menstruation.

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.
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 baby a pacifier and start weaning, you may start menstruating.
  • In some cases, menstruation does not return for 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.
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 (10).

Breastfeeding While You Are Menstruating

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

  • Nursing your baby while having periods doesn’t cause any harm to her.
  • The quality of your breast milk remains the same.
  • The taste of your breast milk may change because of the hormonal changes that your body undergoes.
  • Sometimes, you may notice 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 engorgement, mastitis, blebs and plugged milk ducts.
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

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 ovulating 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 (5) (6).

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 (7).

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

No. Since the wound at the site where the placenta 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 (8).

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 endometrium (9).

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


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