One of the great things about pregnancy is that during those nine months of pregnancy you are free from your periods. Now that you have finally delivered your baby you are probably wondering when your next period is going to be.
The Period Isn't Really A Period!
The bleeding and discharge that you get post delivery is not your period but lochia. The bleeding is caused by the raw areas inside the uterus from where the placenta has detached itself. It also consists of tissue shed from the lining of the uterus, mucous and bacteria. It is in fact a clearing out of the remains of the pregnancy.
What Does It Look Like?
The lochia is usually bright red in color for the first few days after birth. After that it will become pinkish and watery. After another week or so there will only be a small yellowish or white discharge. This will also taper off after 2 to 6 weeks though there may be some intermittent discharge or spotting for a few more weeks.
What You Should Be Doing:
It is essential to rest during the weeks after delivery otherwise you may trigger more bleeding. If bright red bleeding does occur again it will usually stop if you take rest. However, if bleeding does not stop you may need to see your doctor.
See Your Doctor, if:
You may also need to report to your doctor if the bleeding is getting heavier or if your lochia has a bad smell or if you develop chills and fever. This could be a sign that you have developed a postpartum infection.
Now About Your First Period:
Bleeding after the lochia has stopped completely is probably your first period. When this will happen all depends upon whether you are breast feeding or not. If you are not breast feeding you will most likely get your first period within 3 months after delivery. Breast feeding can postpone the onset of the periods for another 6 months.
Nursing Impacts Periods:
Early return to menstruation is less likely if you are nursing your baby every 3 to 4 hours; if you are not pumping but feeding baby directly and if you are feeding at night too. Also if you continue to breast feed your baby for months continuously.
The less often your baby nurses, the sooner your period will be back. If the baby does not feed at night or if you're supplementing with formula, it's likely your period will return sooner than six months.
It Is All Subjective!
However, all this is very generalised. There is no saying when you will actually get your period as women's bodies are all different. So you could get your period within a month even though you are breast feeding around the clock or it could be many months later even if your baby is on the bottle.
Mothers, Please Keep In Mind:
- One thing to keep in mind for all new mothers is that not menstruating is no guarantee that there is no ovulation happening in the body. A lot of women rely on breast feeding as a form of contraception but this is not a foolproof method. The ovaries will release an egg before you get your period so if you don't use birth control once you start having sex again the chances are that you could get pregnant. Always use other forms of contraception.
- Once your periods start, the bleeding itself and the cycle could vary from your regular pattern. Do not worry if your period is lighter or heavier than normal or if your cycle is irregular initially. You could also get cramps, small blood clots and bleeding that seems to stop and start.
- All these changes will go away after some time. However, if your periods do not get regular after a couple of months or if the flow is continuously heavy for 2 or more cycles you may need to check with your doctor.
- You may also need to visit your doctor if bleeding is heavy enough to soak through one pad in one hour, if there is a sudden and severe pain in your abdomen, chills and fever or if bleeding continues for more than a week.
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