Your First Period Postpartum

When and What to Expect About Your First Post-Baby Period

Mother holding baby girl (0-3 months) after bath.

Christa Renee / The Image Bank / Getty Images

After a nine-plus-month hiatus from menstrual bleeding, your first post-baby period can come as a surprise. Without having a recent last period, it is hard to guess when the next one will arrive. And if you've had unprotected sex after the baby came, you may be nervous about getting pregnant again before you are emotionally and physically ready.

Menstrual Changes After Childbirth

During pregnancy, you learn a lot about your body and get lots of guidance from other women. However, one thing that is rarely discussed is postpartum periods and how they can change.


The flow, duration, and level of cramping during your period may change. Some women who had very heavy periods before pregnancy find their periods may be much lighter or vice versa. Some mothers find that their periods haven't really changed, while others find them more or less painful.

Premenstrual syndrome symptoms can also change for the better or worse after bearing children. For some women, PMS symptoms are stronger, while other women find they are no longer as strongly affected by hormonal changes in the days before their period. For many women, the return of PMS is the first indicator that their period is going to arrive soon.


If your menstrual cycle previously ran like clockwork, you may be caught off guard by a longer or shorter cycle, or one that is completely unpredictable.

After you've given birth, you will bleed vaginally whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. This is the placenta healing and is known as lochia. This bleeding will last for six to eight weeks after you have had a baby and is not considered a return to your normal menstrual cycle nor is it considered your first period postpartum.

Once postpartum bleeding has stopped, your period can return anytime from a few weeks to months or even years later. Timing may depend on whether or not you breastfeed

How Breastfeeding Affects Your Period

One key factor in determining when menstruation returns is breastfeeding. While some women get their period even if they breastfeed, most do not.

If You Do Not Breastfeed

Some people who do not breastfeed have their cycle return within the next six weeks. Most have it return within a few months.

Research suggests menstruation returns by 12 weeks postpartum about 70% of the time, in the absence of breastfeeding.

If You Breastfeed

If you are nursing you will typically not have your normal period for many months, depending on the amount and frequency of nursing and a number of supplemental feedings, if any. Research suggests only 20% of people who breastfeed will get their period back within the first six months.

Once you have weaned, your period will usually follow within a month or two. You may also see your period return as your baby begins to eat more solid foods or if you begin to supplement with formula or solids. This is normal as the amount of breastfeeding is less, meaning you are more likely to ovulate.

Getting Pregnant After Childbirth

It is important to remember that you may still ovulate while you are nursing, and you can get pregnant again during this time. The risk of ovulating in the first 6 months after having a baby, while you are breastfeeding, is about 1% to 5%.

Some women use the lactational amenorrhea (LAM) technique as a means of birth control during this time. This is a very specific method of birth control with strict rules. Not everyone can use this for birth control.​

A Word From Verywell

If you find that your period has changed for the worse or you have strong PMS symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor or midwife. These symptoms may be related to the method of birth control that you are using, your age, or other factors not related to giving birth.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lee YJ, Yi SW, Ju DH, Lee SS, Sohn WS, Kim IJ. Correlation between postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Single center study. Obstet Gynecol Sci. 2015;58(5):353-358. doi:10.5468/ogs.2015.58.5.353

  2. Lewis PR, Brown JB, Renfree MB, Short RV. The resumption of ovulation and menstruation in a well-nourished population of women breastfeeding for an extended period of time. Fertil Steril. 1991;55(3):529-536.

  3. Van der Wijden C, Manion C. Lactational amenorrhoea method for family planning. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(10):CD001329. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001329.pub2

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.