When Does Menstruation Return After Birth?

Does the menstrual cycle return soon after giving birth?

Menstruation does not continue immediately post partum. As your body slowly goes through natural changes and stages, preparing to give birth, it may seem as though it will never get back to “pre-pregnancy normal.” Many mothers-to-be find some pregnancy patterns enjoyable and rather convenient, such as not menstruating during pregnancy. Of course, the menstrual cycle will return soon after giving birth—but how should you define “soon”?

How long does it take before my period resumes, after giving birth?

Many women begin menstruating between three and ten weeks after giving birth and the average is 45 days after. However, it’s important to realize that the normal timetable for the return to menstruation differs greatly from woman to woman. The range considered normal may extend from one month up to a year or more, before you’ll need to put tampons on your shopping list once again.

Are there reasons it might take a while for my period to return? Does breastfeeding affect post-partum menstruation?

Resumption of the menstrual cycle is most affected by your nursing choices. Whether you nurse your baby–and how often–is the major factor affecting how soon you’ll resume menstruating. The more often you nurse or expel breast milk, the longer it may take before your menstrual periods return.

For nursing moms who’ve chosen EBF, exclusive breastfeeding without supplementation with formula, the return to menstruation takes longer. The start of the menstrual cycle may also be delayed if you nurse your baby during the night, in cases where s/he doesn’t begin sleeping through the night for quite some time. It may be a year or more before your period begins once again.

When will menstruation resume if I’m formula feeding?

FF or formula-feeding, non-nursing moms may begin to menstruate as soon as one month after delivering your baby, or it might take two or three months. Remember, the normal range varies and you should discuss any concerns with your physician.

Does having my period mean I should stop breastfeeding?

No, you can continue breastfeeding your baby even after you begin to menstruate post partum. Your baby may fuss a bit, since hormonal changes while menstruating may cause your milk supply to drop. The taste may also change slightly from what your little one has become accustomed to.

When does fertility return after having a baby?

Women who have recently given birth can become pregnant again before their first postpartum menstrual period. For this reason, it’s generally advisable for new moms to begin using birth control as soon as you resume sexual activity. With ovulation, the release of the first postpartum egg before the first menstrual period, you are fertile and a new pregnancy can occur. Many new moms have been surprised by an unplanned pregnancy soon after giving birth.

No matter your breastfeeding status, consult your healthcare provider during your pregnancy, and after, for an evaluation specific to your situation. This will protect your health and help reassure you that you’re on track.

Learn more about the pregnancy experience from experts and share information with other moms-to-be at babyQ.com.

Image Courtesy of BigStock Photo


Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”