In the months after giving birth, periods may be irregular but may return to normal over time. There is no way to predict how giving birth will affect a person’s period, but women who breastfeed typically go longer without having a period.
In this article, learn more about what to expect from the first postpartum period.
What to expect
Periods may change after childbirth, as the uterus takes time to return to its normal size.
Having a baby is a major trauma for a woman’s body, and it takes time to recover. There is no such thing as a “standard” postpartum period, but it is common for the first few periods to be different from how they were before pregnancy.
There are many reasons why periods may change after childbirth, including:
- the uterus taking time to return to its normal size
- hormone levels shifting
- breastfeeding affecting hormone levels
Some women notice that their periods are heavier after childbirth. Others find that the blood is a different color, that there are more clots than usual, or that cramps are more intense.
According to Cleveland Clinic doctor Diane Young, most women will notice their period returns to their personal “normal” over time, meaning however it was before pregnancy.
When will it arrive?
Among women who do not breastfeed or who breastfeed on an irregular schedule, menstruation tends to return more quickly.
A 2011 analysis of six previous studies found that most women got their first periods between 45 and 94 days after giving birth. One study in the review found that the average first period happened at 74 days postpartum.
The main factor affecting the timing of the first postpartum period is ovulation. Women who want to check whether they are ovulating can try using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), which are available in pharmacies and online.
Measuring basal body temperature every day can also help detect ovulation.
Irregular postpartum periods
Especially in the months immediately after giving birth, it is common to have irregular periods. Women who are breastfeeding are more likely to notice irregular periods, as the hormones that support breastfeeding can cause the body to delay ovulation or ovulate infrequently.
Even in women who are not breastfeeding, periods may be irregular, as the body takes time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Over time, menstruation will return to its usual pattern. However, some women may have had irregular periods before pregnancy, such as those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
If a woman is concerned about irregular postpartum periods, it is best that they speak to a doctor to find the underlying cause.