There you are, basking away in the glow of brand-new motherhood. Bouncy baby in hand, excited hubby in tow and then that ghastly monthly visitor you haven’t seen in nine months. Only, this bleeding you see in the wake of your delivery isn’t really a period. It’s your body’s way of cleansing the womb for possible future pint-sized visitors.
Now, as you count down to your first postpartum period, you’re likely plagued with a host of questions.
Here, we present our pick of the top 5 most asked ones by new mothers. Snuggle your little nugget, turn on some relaxing music and read on.
You may be bogged down by the idea of not knowing when to expect your period. But rest assured, there’s absolutely no reason to worry. Every woman’s body has a different reset button, so first, stop comparing. Remember that your first period may be marginally heavier than your pre-pregnancy periods. Also, many women automatically assume that a restored menstrual cycle marks restored fertility. Nope. In fact, your body will likely present its first fertile window two whole weeks before the start of your first period. Since it is possible to get pregnant before your maiden postpartum menstrual cycle, it is important to use precautions if you’re holding off on another baby right away.
There isn’t a standard answer for when your first period will appear, because this is determined by a whole lot of factors. Breastfeeding moms, for example, take longer to initiate menstruation than their non-breastfeeding counterparts. While bottle-feeding moms wait between four to eight weeks, on average, for their period, breastfeeding moms can sometimes go up to six months or even a year without their monthly visitor. This is because prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production serves as a hormone inhibitor, preventing the resumption of the menstrual cycle.
And you thought you were too old for games. You see, postpartum menstruation is a funny little thing. It can appear as a seamless cycle for some women and come and go for others. The unpredictable nature of postpartum periods is largely due to rapidly changing hormones as your body adjusts to life after pregnancy. Bear in mind that delays and haphazard patterns may also be stimulated by other factors like thyroid problems, premature menopause, uterine scarring and hey, a whole new pregnancy. When in doubt, meet a doctor.
There’s just never any respite from Aunt Flo, you say. But there’s a reason. Painful postpartum periods owe their horrid nature to hormone-like elements called prostaglandins. Pain can also be attributed to the excess uterine lining being shed after pregnancy.
In the weeks and months after your delivery, you may experience a spectrum of emotions and aches and pains. From debilitating periods to intermittent scanty spotting, backaches to compromised milk production, there may be a maze of concerns for you to navigate. During this time, it’s wise to seek comfort and confidence in your doctor. Your first period is your body’s response to a massive, life-changing event and not necessarily a precursor to future bleeds.
If you notice enduring changes that last longer than three months, or if your period doesn’t return after six months, speak to your gynaecologist about your concerns. While some women eagerly anticipate their postpartum period, others dread the day of its arrival. The truth is, your first period can mark the advent of a whole new phase of life – the close of one chapter and the start of the next.
For now, as you prepare to turn your current chapter, sit down and savour these last little pages of your pregnancy. They’re mementoes you’ll never have back.
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