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How Your Period Changes After Pregnancy

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health & Sex Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist, adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University and has written for publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling...

Periods after pregnancy: What to expect when you’re no longer expecting

When it comes to your body, after you’ve given birth, all bets are off (or so I’ve heard from people who have actually done it). Getting your period is no exception to that. Even if your period arrived every 28 days like clockwork before you got pregnant, it doesn’t mean your menstrual cycle will get back to normal as soon as you give birth.

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To start with, many women don’t get their periods at all while they are breastfeeding during the postpartum period, Dr. Heidi Cough, an OB-GYN at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California tells SheKnows. But that’s not a hard and fast rule — others see their periods return as early as four weeks after giving birth, even if they are breastfeeding.

Dr. Stephanie Wyckoff, an OB-GYN at the Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, says that if a woman isn’t breastfeeding, she will likely get her period again within six to eight weeks of giving birth. Cough adds that generally, it takes around a year for a woman’s cycle to return to what it was pre-pregnancy.

It really is different for every person, Wyckoff stresses. And Cough points out that for some, when their period returns, it can come back heavier and longer in duration.

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But here’s a bit of good news: Some women report having less painful cramps than they did before they got pregnant according to Wyckoff.

As with anything, if you notice any major changes in your menstrual cycle, it’s best to see your doctor right away. According to Cough, if a woman’s bleeding is heavy enough to saturate a peri-pad per hour for more than two hours in a row, then she should call her OB-GYN for follow-up care.

If heavy or prolonged bleeding with or without blood clots is noted within the first six weeks of the postpartum period, this could be delayed postpartum hemorrhage, Wyckoff says. This may indicate and is most commonly caused by retention of a part of the placenta, but it can also indicate possible delayed infection in the uterus.

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If this occurs after pregnancy — or at any point in a woman’s life — they should consider seeking medical advice, she adds.

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