One of the many perks of pregnancy is that nature’s monthly gift doesn’t arrive for 9 whole months. No cramps, no bleeding, and no PMS (although most of these things happen during pregnancy for other reasons - let’s be real). If you've recently given birth, you might be wondering when you can expect Aunt Flo to return, and you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for determining when your period will return.
If you're breastfeeding exclusively, you may delay your period for up to 6 months or longer, though it often returns earlier than that. On the other hand, if your baby goes long stretches without feeding, or breastfeeds for less than 85% of her nutrients, your period could come back sooner — if she is sleeping through the night or if you supplement with formula, you can expect to make a drugstore run sooner than that.
If you're formula-feeding, you may start menstruating again about 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. If you don’t get your period after 4 months, consult your doctor or healthcare provider, because this could indicate irregular cycles or even pregnancy. Most importantly, remember that every body is different so there’s no way to determine when you’ll get your first postpartum period.
The only factor that truly influences menstruation is breastfeeding. It is often known as “natural birth control” for this reason, but don’t be fooled - you can still get pregnant while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding lets your body suppress the menstrual cycle and ovulation because the hormones that make milk also limit the hormones that cause eggs to mature and become fertile. This is known as lactational amenorrhea, and is a natural way of delaying a return in your period.
Many women experience differences in their periods when they return after pregnancy, like increased or decreased flow, and more or less painful cramps. Irregular cycles are normal at first, but your period should become more regular after a few months. If you experience very heavy menstrual flows, let your healthcare provider know. Ovia Fertility can help you track any changes in your cycle, and if you decide to try for a sibling for your baby, Ovia Fertility can help with that, too! Just make sure you don’t fall for that old tale of not being able to get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding - ovulation happens before your period, so take care, or else you could be expecting another baby sooner than you'd think!