mother holding baby after birth

Periods After Birth. What to Expect

Sometimes periods can feel like a nuisance to deal with. So when you get pregnant, it almost feels like a big break. Unfortunately, a pregnancy can only last so long. So after birth, the question of when your period is going to start becomes eminent. And breastfeeding is a crucial factor in determining that. This is because the hormone prolactin, which handles breast milk production, suppresses the ovulation hormone (Luteinizing hormone). This however doesn't mean you cannot get pregnant again.

When will your period start again?

This will depend on your breastfeeding. If you're exclusively breastfeeding your baby both night and day, you may not have your period the entire time until you start bottle feeding. This is because your prolactin level is high and therefore still inhibiting the ovulation hormone. 

If you’re combining both bottle feeding and breastfeeding, your periods may come back 5-8 weeks after giving birth. If you're not breastfeeding, your period may come sooner than this. However, this all varies with different people.

How will your period change after pregnancy?

Sometimes your period may change. Some women experience heavier painful periods while it gets easier for others. Initially, you may experience heavy flows and clots in your menses, but with time, it goes back to normal. Your periods and your menstrual cycle may also become irregular during the first few months. 

After giving birth, menstrual pains cease in some women. This is because birth eliminates prostaglandin receptors that are responsible for cramps.

If you've been having heavier blood loss or more blood clots for more than a week, consult your doctor. Symptoms like high fever or foul-smelling discharge may be because of an infection or another medical concern. 

Will the milk change after your period starts?

The change in the amount of milk produced may be unnoticeable when your period begins. Sometimes, there may be a dip in your breast milk supply, change of taste, and your nipple might become a bit tender. The change in taste of milk is because the amount of sodium and chlorides in the milk go up while the amount of potassium and lactose goes down during ovulation leaving the milk tasting a little more salty than usual. But this is just for some time. A rise in estrogen and progesterone levels during ovulation makes the breast feel full and tender. The high level of estrogen also causes calcium levels to go down, leading to a dip in milk levels and sore nipples.

Is pregnancy possible during your period break?

Yes. You can become pregnant during this period break.  However, exclusive breastfeeding is sometimes used as a birth control method. It's known as the lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM). This method, though, only works if ;

  • You practice exclusive breastfeeding. This includes day and night. The intervals between breastfeeding shouldn’t be longer than 4 hours during the day and not more than 6 months during the night.
  • You nurse on demand. This means you let your baby feed any time they feel like it.
  • Let your baby satisfy their suckling needs by letting them breastfeed to their satisfaction. Do not use pacifiers.
  • Your baby must be 6 months or younger. If your baby is older than this, that means your periods are just around the corner and you should use extra protection methods.
  • This must be before your period starts. 

LAM is 98% effective. Breastfeeding exclusively and consistently does not assure you full protection. The Protective feature in breastfeeding becomes less effective with time.  This is because even though you may not get your period, you are still ovulating. Ensure you use the necessary protection to prevent unwanted pregnancies while breastfeeding.

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