It is common for a female’s period cycle to change after pregnancy and during breastfeeding. There are actually various ways in which a female’s body changes after pregnancy and delivery. Some females might experience heavier or more painful periods, while some females feel that their periods have become easier.
In the months after giving delivery, your periods may be irregular but are likely to return back to normal gradually with time. There is no way you or your doctor can predict how the delivery will affect your periods. But typically, females who breastfeed have irregular periods for a longer time.
In this blog, learn more about how delivery and breastfeeding may cause irregular periods and what you should do about it.
Having a baby is a major trauma for a female’s body, and so it needs time to recover. There is no standard postpartum period, but generally, females recover and can resume normal life in 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. However, some females may need a little more time to recover from childbirth effects.
There are various reasons why your periods may be irregular after delivery, including:
- the uterus takes time to return back to its normal size
- your hormone levels shifting
- if you are breastfeeding, it may also affect hormone levels
Some females notice that their periods get heavier after childbirth. Others find that the color of period blood is different, or may find more blood clots in the period blood than usual. Some females also report on having intense cramps in periods after delivery.
Also Read: Self Care Post Pregnancy
Reasons behind irregular periods after delivery
Females mostly have irregular periods, especially in the months immediately after delivery. Moreover, females who are breastfeeding are more likely to notice irregular periods for a longer time or with intense symptoms like heavy flow or cramping, as the hormones that support breastfeeding cause the body to delay ovulation or cause infrequently ovulation.
Even in females who are not breastfeeding, periods are likely to be irregular, as the body takes some time to recover from pregnancy and delivery.
Over time, your period cycle will return to its usual pattern. If you are concerned about irregular periods after delivery, it is best that they speak to a gynecologist to find the underlying cause and get any needful treatment.
Before you start treating the problem of irregular periods after delivery, it is important to firstly know the reason behind it. From the time of conception, a female’s body goes through various changes, along with the changing levels of hormones. Irregular period cycle after delivery is a consequence of such hormonal changes in the body. Less typically, some other external factors may also play a role in causing irregular periods after delivery.
Females tend to gain weight during pregnancy and may continue to be on the heavier side for a few months after childbirth. On the contrary, some females lose weight drastically after delivery, due to lack of a proper diet, sleep or with a strict workout routine and diet. In both cases, the body weight directly impacts the hormone levels in the female’s body. The weight of the new mom is a significant parameter in deciding when she resumes having a normal and regular menstrual cycle.
Females who are breastfeeding may not have periods after delivery for many months as breastfeeding can prevent ovulation and thus result in irregular menstruation. Females who breastfeed tend to ovulate much later after their delivery. Prolactin, the hormone responsible for inducing the secretion of milk from mammary glands also puts down the process of ovulation. Therefore, as long as a female is breastfeeding her newborn, the hormones remain actively in circulation and delay the ovulation process. Only a successful ovulation can lead to regular periods. Therefore, it is pretty clear why breastfeeding females have irregular periods for longer after delivery.
Altered Hormone Levels
An expecting female’s body starts altering the levels of hormones, in anticipation of pregnancy. These hormones prepare the female’s body for childbearing, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the hormone levels do not easily go back to normal right after delivery. Factors such as diet, exercise routine, breastfeeding, sex life, and body weight play a role in determining how and when your hormones level are likely to return to normal levels. In the process, the menstrual cycle becomes irregular and unpredictable for a few months after delivery, until the hormones settle down to their normal levels.
If a female has suffered from conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), thyroidism, or any other medical condition which causes or is a result of fluctuation in hormone levels, she is at a higher risk of experiencing irregular periods after pregnancy. This is especially if the female already faced issues with the regularity of her period cycle, prior to pregnancy.
When should I worry about irregular periods after delivery?
An irregular period cycle really means that the female’s period cycle is either shorter or longer than the typical 28-day cycle. If the female is breastfeeding, chances are that they are causing irregular periods.
However, there are many other factors that can affect a regular menstrual cycle, even when you are breastfeeding. Before you think that breastfeeding is the cause of delayed or irregular periods, you should consider other symptoms, such as spotting, heavier bleeding than the normal, or lengthy period cycles.
Discuss your irregular menstruation with your OB-GYN, even if you are breast-feeding. Your doctor would want to rule out other medical causes for irregular periods, such as:
- uterine fibroids
- extreme weight loss
- ovarian cysts
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
- PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
You should definitely call your OB-GYN expert right away if you experience any intense pain, or if you experience heavy spotting between periods.
What should you do if you have irregular periods after delivery?
After a female has had a delivery, the doctor would advise about warning signs and how to take the best care of yourself. Pregnancy and childbirth are likely to have an impact on the female’s period cycle. Normally, your period cycle will return back to normal in a few months after delivery.
A female should see an OB-GYN immediately in the following cases-
- Very heavy vaginal bleeding which soaks through more than 1 pad per hour for more than 2 hours
- Intense cramps
- Very large blood clots in period blood
Make sure to arrange someone to accompany you to the hospital if you go to see your doctor for unusual bleeding, very painful or heavy periods, or for painful irregular periods.
Though some health conditions can cause irregular periods, hormonal changes are the most common cause for irregular periods when the female is breastfeeding.
If you are not breastfeeding, you should have normal period cycles again right away after 4-6 weeks of childbirth. A female might even get her next period about 4 weeks after delivery. Call the best OB-GYN if you experience irregular periods when you are not breastfeeding.