Monday, 5 June 2017

First Menstrual Period After Birth – What to Expect?

Childbirth is a special period in a woman’s life. The entire nine months of pregnancy are very special and normally the woman’s body undergoes many changes. After childbirth, the body has to revert to its previous state, just like it was before becoming pregnant.

The uterus will need to return to its normal place and size, along with other organs and body parts. The menstrual cycle has to return again. When does the first menstrual period after birth starts?

First menstrual period after birth
Breastfeeding plays an important role in the menstrual period after birth. The exact time when you will get your first period depends whether you are breastfeeding your newborn or not. Breastfeeding is always recommended especially for the first 6 months of a newborn. Women, who choose not to breastfeed their child, will usually get their menstrual periods back within the first 10 weeks after childbirth.

The hormone levels normalize at different rates, meaning that every woman is different and that the returning of menstrual periods varies. Breastfeeding your child will delay the returning of the menstrual period. As your baby continues to suck your nipples while breastfeeding, the pituitary gland produces prolactin. This is a hormone which suppresses ovulation and delays the menstrual periods.

If you continue to feed your baby frequently, which is usually a case of a newborn, the returning of the menstrual period is delayed. However, as you start to feed your baby less frequently, it is more likely that your menstrual periods will return and that you will start to ovulate again.

As mentioned this period is different for every woman. Some can have their menstrual periods back within a month or two after childbirth. Others can have their menstrual periods back within the first twelve months after childbirth.

What to expect in the first menstrual period after childbirth?
The returning of the menstrual periods and their normalization depends from one woman to the other.
Breastfeeding plays a very important role in this process, delaying ovulation if a woman continues to breastfeed their newborn after delivery. The first few menstrual periods after childbirth are usually irregular until the menstrual cycle becomes regular again. It will be just like it was before becoming pregnant in the first place.

In general, the menstrual cycle should become regular within a couple of months, unless you have always had an irregular menstrual cycle. If your cycle was regular before pregnancy and childbirth, and now it has become irregular you should seek medical help.

You should get a check – up as any uterine problems or any imbalance of the hormones can lead to having irregular menstrual periods after childbirth.

The first menstrual periods after childbirth are usually heavier than normally. A presence of blood clots in the first or second menstrual periods after childbirth are considered normal.

However, you should seek medical help and get a check – up if you continue to have very heavy menstrual periods. You should seek medical help if there is a presence of blood clots even after a couple of months.

Spotting between menstrual periods, as well as abdominal and pelvic cramping and pain is also common during the first few menstrual cycles after childbirth. However, if this spotting and menstrual cramping are making you worry, you should seek medical help and get a check–up.
You should seek immediate medical help in cases when you start having a high fever or your menstrual flow is heavy.

Also, seek medical help if your period contains blood clots and lasts longer than a week and if you experience severe pain. Seek medical help if you need to change your pad or tampon every hour.

How to prevent a pregnancy now that you have your menstrual cycle back again?
Normally, you have just given birth to a child and you are not looking to get pregnant again. For this reason, paying attention to your sex life and the contraceptive method you are using is very important. This is in order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy immediately after childbirth. As mentioned, the returning of the menstrual period after childbirth depend on whether you are breastfeeding or not.

Women who breastfeed their newborn are protected as long as their child is under 6 months. If they are breastfeeding their child regularly, they shouldn’t breastfeed more than 4 to 6 hours apart and as long as the menstrual periods have not returned yet.

If the menstrual periods have returned and you are still breastfeeding, you should use another contraceptive method. There is always a chance of conceiving.

This method of contraception due to breastfeeding is known as the lactation amenorrhea method and its failure rates are about 2%. Condoms, diaphragms or contraceptive pills are a great contraceptive method when trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. 

IUD’s are not recommended immediately after childbirth, as your uterus will require some time until it gets back to its location, size, and shape.

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