What To Expect When You're Expecting Your First Period Postpartum

What To Expect When You're Expecting Your First Period Postpartum

With the arrival of pregnancy comes a farewell to your period. And for about 9 months you may even come to forget what having a period is like. Then once that baby arrives here on earth, you can expect your period to come along at some point as well. It can be seen as a milestone in one’s postpartum journey, but you may not know what to expect. So let’s chat about it. 

The first thing to know about your postpartum body is that everyone is beautifully unique. Your body just did an incredible thing and it will likely take time for it to find a new balance after the miracle it just produced. So be patient and kind to yourself as you move foward.

You will experience bleeding after delivery and this is completely normal. Lochia is the name of of the discharge that one experiences after birth. It is a mixture of blood, uterine tissue, and mucus and may look and smell much like period flow. You will likely experience this for a few days up to a few weeks after childbirth, and it will likely start off heavy and then gradually lighten up and stop. It is important to understand that this is a part of your body’s healing process and not the re-starting of your menstrual cycle. (1) Inserted products are generally not recommended during this time, so it is nice to have more comfortable options such as leakproof underwear. These options allow you to do what you need to do without having to worry about changing a pad or adding to the discomfort of your already sensitive area. They are also great for those bladder leaks that can occur while your pelvic floor is regaining its strength - everyone loves good pee-proof underwear!

In what timeframe your period will return postpartum is based on a number of different factors and the simple answer is that it depends. Factors such as healing process, birth method, birth complications, breastfeeding, family history, etc all play a part. The soonest one can expect their period to return is 4-6 weeks after giving birth.

It is common for one to not experience a period during breastfeeding because of the hormones that are produced. There is a widely heard statement that you cannot ovulate (and therefore, not get pregnant) when breastfeeding - but this is a myth! It is common for many to not experience ovulation during breastfeeding because the hormones that create breastmilk can prevent the hormones that control your period and ovulation; but this is not a sure thing. And you will likely ovulate before having your first period, so if you are wanting to prevent pregnancy, it is important to use the proper contraception. (2) This can also be dependent on whether you exclusively breastfeed or combination bottle and breastfeed. (3)

Once your period does return, it can be very helpful to track it! Keeping notes about the flow, dates, heaviness, color, and symptoms you experience can be very good knowledge to have and allow you to get more familiar with your body. Up to 45% of people experience irregular periods postpartum, so if this occurs for you, it is not reason for immediate concern. Having that specific information about your body and what it is doing can provide not only peace of mind, but also the tools you need to advocate for yourself if you are concerned that something may not be right. 

As hormones fluctuate and the body works to return to its pre-pregnancy rhythms, you may experience some different symptoms than you have with previous cycles. Clotting and cramping are some of the most common period symptoms that may differ from your pre-pregnancy periods. Many report experiencing an increase in clots and cramping, but that it generally tends to even out over time. 

What period products can you use postpartum? Again - it is all dependent on your anatomy and healing. This is a great conversation to have with your doctor during your postpartum checkup. Many find that they prefer reusable menstrual cups and menstrual discs postpartum as products such as tampons tend to not be as comfortable as they once were. But again, it is totally up to you and what your doctor advises.

Overall, it is most crucial to understand that every body and experience is unique in its own way. Never feel the need to compare your postpartum journey to someone elses. Your body was created with this natural process and though it may take some time, you and your period will find a good rhythm again. And if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to speak up for yourself and express your concerns to your medical provider. 


  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/22485-lochia
  2. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/periods-after-pregnancy
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/when-will-my-periods-start-again-after-pregnancy/
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