One undeniably nice thing about being pregnant is that you don’t get your period for a whole nine months! But of course, sometime after your baby arrives, you will get your period back again. The time between when you give birth and when you get it back is affected by a lot of things: whether or not you’re exclusively breastfeeding, your genetics, etc.
So when will you get your period back?
The soonest most women can get their periods back is 4 weeks after birth. Some women don’t get theirs back for two years or so, though!
If you are not breastfeeding at all, expect your period to return 4 – 8 weeks after birth. Breastfeeding suppresses ovulation and fertility, so if you are not, then your period (and fertility) will return. Plan for this if you don’t want another baby immediately!
A quick note: if you start bleeding again before 6 weeks postpartum (even if you have stopped for awhile) it may be considered late postpartum bleeding, so talk to your doctor if you are not sure which it is. It may be an indication that you need to slow down!
If you are breastfeeding part-time (and supplementing or pumping other times), your period may return in 3 – 12 months. It depends on how often you are breastfeeding. The less that you breastfeed, the more likely it is that your period will return. It is also true that once your baby starts solids, your period is likely to return.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding (no pumping and no supplementing) around the clock, your period is unlikely to return as long as that continues. Many women find that when their babies start to sleep in longer stretches at night, or when their babies start solids, that their periods return. However, for at least some women (who are still breastfeeding frequently), these cycles are anovulatory, meaning you’re not actually fertile yet.
Some women are unable to conceive again until they stop breastfeeding entirely. Other women get their periods back and are able to get pregnant by the time their babies are three months old. Some people think that overall health and consuming animal products with added hormones (conventional products) may affect this and cause fertility to return sooner, but there’s no research to prove this either way. Since hormones are known to affect puberty in girls, though, it could also affect when fertility returns after giving birth.
If you do not want another baby soon, it’s important to start using some form of birth control by 6 weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, consider using condoms until your cycle returns — hormonal birth control can affect milk supply (as well as having other potential side effects in some women). It is entirely possible to ovulate before you get your period back, and get pregnant again without ever having a period. I know women this has happened to!
The ultimate answer? “It depends.”
After my first baby, I got my period back at 4.5 months — two weeks after she started solids (she’d been sleeping mostly through the night for about 6 weeks too). After my second baby, I got a period at 6 months…and another at 9 months (about a month after he started solids). But my cycle wasn’t regular and I didn’t ovulate until he was 15 months old. I got pregnant on that first ‘real’ cycle though! Breastfeeding and co-sleeping around the clock did delay fertility much longer for me.
When did you get your period back after birth?
Top image by alicegop