Surprise, surprise—the changes your body undergoes during pregnancy don’t stop after you give birth. And that includes your menstrual cycle. Navigating your period post-labor and delivery can be unchartered territory, so here's everything you need to know about your first postpartum period.
Postpartum recovery: The first eight weeks
The blood shed following childbirth is called lochia, and it will gradually taper off. Lochia typically lasts six to eight weeks, starting off bright red and then becoming lighter, more watery and even white in appearance. It may have a sweet scent to it; if it smells foul, check in with your doctor.
Although it would be convenient, it is not recommended to use any internal menstrual devices to collect lochia—stick with pads and forgo menstrual cups and tampons.
After lochia, though, any bleeding is typically put on hold if you opt to breast or chestfeed. Periods are skipped while your body focuses on milk supply and physical recovery. This is referred to as lactational amenorrhea and is a natural part of the months postpartum.
Lactational amenorrhea is most common in women who are exclusively breastfeeding. This is because suckling reduces luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones which suppresses ovulation. Nursing also stimulates prolactin levels, the hormone responsible for milk production. For most, menstruation will return within six months after giving birth (and can take up to a year), but the return of your period doesn’t necessarily mean a return to fertility.
Bird&Be's The Postpartum helps you recover from pregnancy and childbirth with 24 bioavailable nutrients and an optional Lactation Boost if your milk supply could use a little extra support.
Are you fertile postpartum?
Typically, not right away. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, ovulation can be slow to return to pre-pregnancy regularity even if your period has come back. But, since everyone is different, there’s no standard timeline. Instead, keeping an eye out for signs of ovulation and other lifestyle factors that can encourage a return to ovulation is key.
- The return of a regular menstrual cycle is typically a sign that ovulation has resumed and that you’re fertile again. However, it is also possible to ovulate without getting a period, so this is not always a reliable indicator.
- When a baby begins to nurse less frequently or for shorter periods of time, prolactin levels can drop, allowing ovulation and fertility to return.
- Ovulation tests (OPKs)s can be used to detect the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that occurs just before ovulation. Bird&Be Ovulation Tests are 99.9% effective at picking up that surge and using them throughout your cycle to track the rise and fall of LH can help to confirm that ovulation has returned.
Several factors will influence the return of fertility, including the frequency and intensity of breastfeeding, the introduction of solid foods, and your overall health.
No Period After Pregnancy: When to Worry
While it is normal to have a temporary absence of your period postpartum, there are some situations where it may be cause for concern. Check in with your healthcare provider if you experience:
- Persistent Lactational Amenorrhea can indicate that your body is not producing enough of the hormones that support ovulation and return to a regular menstrual cycle.
- Abnormal Bleeding (including heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding, or bleeding that occurs after lactational amenorrhea has ended and mid-cycle) requires a visit to the doctor for more investigation.
- Hormonal Imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms, including a lack of periods. If you experience hot flashes, mood swings, or changes in weight or sleep patterns, it may be a sign that your hormones are not in balance. Getting the right nutrients to support your hormones can help here—Bird&Be’s The Postpartum has all the vitamins you need during this period of intense recovery.
- Other Medical Conditions can affect your menstrual cycle, including thyroid problems, endometriosis, PCOS, or even certain medications.
What you can expect from your first postpartum period
While it can vary from person-to-person, you may experience differences to your period once it returns. Flow volume, duration, and symptoms can fluctuate with your postpartum periods. These changes may be short-term or more lasting. It’s important to give your body time to recover properly, supporting it with all the nutrition and rest you can manage and using the products that can make your postpartum period a bit more comfortable—like reusable postpartum period care. Both the DIVA Cup and DIVA Disc provide up to 12 hours of continuous protection, for fewer changes and less stress. They’re made of 100% medical grade silicone that is soft and flexible, safe to wear all day, and easy to insert.