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Well, now your baby has arrived and you're a new mum, you'll experience many changes in your life. There's the long nights spent up with baby, the unexpected milk flows (thanks for the t-shirt stains, guys), but also your periods. Your periods will return gradually. We are all different and this means that periods don't come back at the same time or in the same way for all women; be prepared for a few changes.
Well, we know that one of the good things about being pregnant is not having any periods. Unfortunately though, they will come back, but when?
First question, are you breastfeeding? The answer to this question will help you define when your periods will come back.
If you are not breastfeeding, you can expect menstruation to return between 8 and 10 weeks after delivery.
If you are breastfeeding, (this is the case for 60% of women in France), it can take longer for your periods to come back. We usually say it takes around 6 months. Again, we are all different and it can take even longer for some women's periods to return, up to 1 year. Don't worry if your periods haven't restarted yet and you're still breastfeeding.
Prolactin is a hormone produced in the brain that brings about and maintains the production of breast milk after childbirth. We all have this hormone in us; prolactin also plays a part in reproduction, growth and immunity but its rate is greatly increased during pregnancy and the post-partum period, especially during breastfeeding.
After childbirth, prolactin levels return to normal in under two weeks if you're not breastfeeding.
If you have chosen to breastfeed, breastfeeding plays an important role because it immediately stimulates prolactin levels. Prolactin secretion remains high as long as you continue to breastfeed. Many women get their periods back once baby starts reducing his feeds: either because he starts eating solids or because he switches to bottles.
This hormone prevents ovulation, and therefore your periods. But in 10% of women, this is not the case. In addition, the return of menstruation is preceded by an ovulation period that took place 15 days before. What does that mean? That you could ovulate at any time, without realising it. And ovulation means the possibility of a new pregnancy. Breastfeeding is therefore not a reliable method of contraception. If you do not want to get pregnant again immediately, you should use contraception.
The first thing that arrives after delivery is lochia. This is a mixture of blood and uterine tissue. It looks a lot like a period, but it's not! We talk about it in more detail in the article available here.
Your first period after baby's birth won't be like the ones you used to have. Your periods may be heavier. If you haven't ever experienced Niagara Falls, you will now!
For users of menstrual cups, a change in size may be necessary because if you observe an increase in menstrual flow, the capacity of your menstrual cup may not be sufficient. Moreover, the body changes after childbirth, and the vagina too! If you observe leaks but the cup is not full, it is because the menstrual cup is too small and no longer adheres well to the walls of the vagina that may have distended. For more information on the sizes of menstrual cups, please consult our size guide.
Cramps can also intensify during this period. Take a look at our natural tips to help relieve your pain by clicking here.
If your period is really heavy, in other words your sanitary pad is full in 1 hour, or you have to change your menstrual cup every hour, then your period is abnormally heavy. Consult your health professional who will make sure you're not suffering any complications.