Giving birth is a traumatic and life altering process. Most women who go into labor naturally start with either contractions or their water breaking. They go to the hospital and are prepped for birth, where they learn how things will go, what interventions they may need, their options, and allowed to labor peacefully. Then you suddenly get a lot of activity and out pops this beautiful little baby! You bleed for a week (or five), and then you don’t get your period for a year! Right?
WRONG! You period can start as early as 4 weeks after birth, whether you are breastfeeding or not. You may not get it for nine months; you may get into your ‘normal’ cycle immediately after pregnancy. You never know. Most of all, your cycle may be regular and it may not. The uncertainty is intense.
Before Your First Period
Before you have your first period, you will ovulate. It is incredibly important to wait the recommended 6 weeks to have sex, as this is the point in time that your doctor will likely clear you as being fully healed (your uterus takes a while to heal too, it did just have a placenta ripped off of it and pushed a huge watermelon out!), and discuss/start you on your birth control of choice. It is possible to get pregnant within just a few weeks after giving birth. It is not incredibly likely, but it is possible and happens to many women. Some even give two children born in the same year a name: Irish Twins.
Your period will start, and the first one will likely be heavier than your previous periods. By how much depends on the length of postpartum bleeding, weight gain, exercise, diet, and more. You are also likely to have increased cramping, because while you may be back into (or close to) your pre pregnancy jeans, it takes a while for everything inside your body to return to normal.
Your uterus may have to contract more than previously to shed that little lining. If you have cramping, a mild pain killer and a heating pad can do wonders. Nursing your baby (if you are nursing) can increase cramping a little, but not enough to worry about it! The blood may be a little thicker or redder than your remember – that’s Ok! Chances are, it was always that way and you just forgot over those nine months of varying pregnancy symptoms. You shouldn’t have a horrible smell or unbearable pain though – if you do, don’t hesitate to call your doctor to make sure everything is healing properly.
Overall, you want to be prepared for the possibility that you could ovulate or begin your period at any time. If you don’t wish to get pregnant again anytime soon, you need to follow your doctor’s advice. Wait for sex until you choose and begin a birth control method. Keep pads around the house, and know that exercise and a good diet will help to keep you nice and healthy, and have a happy, healthy cycle after birth!