Along with taut tummies and functioning pelvic floors, your periods are another of your body’s inner workings which may not return exactly as they were before babies.
For some women, they will be improved – more regular, not as painful – and for others, they will be heavier and last longer. Another group will find they’ve come back, unchanged. When the holiday from having periods is over, each woman’s body makes an individual response to the resumption of normal hormonal levels. Below we take a look at some of questions you might have about your period.
When will my period return?
Periods are a sign that your usual hormonal systems are kicking back in after you’ve given birth, but when they return varies from woman to woman.
Brisbane obstetrician, A/Prof. Gino Pecoraro, says if you are not breastfeeding, you could expect your period to return by the time you have your six week check after the birth.
"When will they come back? You can’t predict it, so my advice is you probably should carry some tampons or something with you," says Dr Pecoraro, a senior visiting obstetrician at the Mater Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital.
Breastfeeding delays the return of your period because the higher levels of prolactin produced can switch off the menstrual cycle. Each woman’s response to these hormones varies though, and some who are fully breastfeeding will have a period within four weeks, while others won’t resume until after they’ve finished feeding.
Does no period mean no new pregnancy?
Even if you haven’t had your period, or you are fully breastfeeding, you could still become pregnant because you can’t tell when you may release an egg.
Breastfeeding may delay your period and the return of your fertility, but it’s not a guarantee and you need contraception if you don’t want to fall pregnant .
"Breastfeeding may stop the whole menstrual cycle, but you can’t count on this, because you may have already have released an egg, and it’s hard to predict when this will happen," says Dr Pecoraro.
Will my periods be different after having a baby?
Having a baby means your body has been through immense hormonal change, and sometimes things don’t return as they were, which can effect how your periods are once you’ve been pregnant.
This is good news for some women who may have had problems with irregular cycles or endometriosis before the baby and find things are better. "Everything’s been turned off for a while, and so their periods might not hurt as much," says Dr Pecoraro.
But for other women their periods can become heavier and last longer. Apart from hormonal changes, there are a couple of possible reasons for this.
When should I see the Doctor?
Anything that’s worrying you about your period is worth getting checked out. This might include if you’ve finished breastfeeding, and your periods haven’t come back, or if your periods continue to be heavy or painful. Irregular periods or bleeding all the time is also definitely worth a visit to your doctor.
And even though most women enjoy a break from their periods during pregnancy, their return is also a good sign your fertility is coming back -- should you want to go down that path again!
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