Postpartum

Navigating Your First Period After Having a Baby

What to Expect From Your First Period after Baby- and When Will it Return?!

After giving birth, there is a period of time before you start to experience a menstrual cycle again. You may be wondering if your periods will be different during postpartum after baby or how long it will take for your period to return. While periods after birth vary greatly, there are some things you can expect when it comes to having your first period after baby.

Chances are, it has been awhile since you had your last menstrual cycle. While pregnant, there is no ovulation and no period (except for VERY RARE cases of superfetation.)

RELATED: New Mom New Baby Postpartum Guide

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  I am a postpartum coach and mother of 2. While all content on Postpartum Together is created with research and best practices, do not replace any information with the direct care of your medical provider. Also this site may use affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a portion of commission from any sales.

what to expect from your first period after having a baby

When Should My Period Return After Giving Birth?

The return of your period can happen anywhere from a few weeks postpartum to months- even a year+ after giving birth. On average the return of period is around 74 days, but breastfeeding can draw out the time it takes for your period to return because of the hormone levels.  While it is not common for a woman to ovulate while she is breastfeeding, it can happen (and yes, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding!) Your body produces more prolactin when you are breastfeeding to stimulate milk production. This usually keeps your ovaries from releasing eggs and, in turn, not experiencing periods.

Are Periods After Baby Different?

It’s likely going to take a few cycles for you to feel like your period is back to “normal.”  You may have fewer or more days between cycles, your flow may be heavier or lighter and PMS, cramping and other symptoms can feel different after giving birth. If you are noticing a difference in your menstrual cycles, don’t be alarmed. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum cause many fluctuations in your hormones and the impacts go beyond the days of birth and early postpartum. This means we can’t give you a direct answer about what to expect from your period after baby, which is probably frustrating, but know that if periods feel different or you don’t know what to expect, you’re in good company. Most women notice some kind of change at least for the first couple of cycles.

RELATED: Postpartum Emotions

Will I Have Less Menstrual Cramping After Birth?

Often women with endometriosis or other painful period experiences are told they may have less cramping and pain in periods after going through pregnancy (I remember being told this when I was in high school and first prescribed birth control for my periods which, in another story, wasn’t great.) The reason you may experience less pain after birth is again hormones. Increased progesterone levels can carry over from pregnancy and birth which impacts endometrial tissue and can result in less painful periods. This can be a welcomes reprieve after birth, though this does not mean periods will continue to be less painful (I know, bummer).

Some women do enjoy less painful periods after birth. This can be from the cervix and uterus changing shapes, sometimes stretch and impacting the cramps you may experience. Also, hormones can cause the uterus to relax and create easier periods.

Why is My First Period After Birth So Heavy?

First, it’s important to know that lochia after birth can last 4-8 weeks (average 6 weeks) after giving birth. Lochia is the bleeding and tissue passing after giving birth as your body heals from pregnancy and delivery. Read more about Postpartum Bleeding here

During this time, it’s important to know what red flags to look out for such as:

  • Red and heavy blood more than a week postpartum
  • Large clots (bigger than golf ball), or high number of clots
  • Discharge has a foul-smell
  • Fever or chills
  • Dizzy and/or nauseous
  • Racing heart

Note: Postpartum bleeding may increase when you are breastfeeding, engaged in activity (walking steps, etc.), straining to use the restroom or when you first get out of bed.

Bleeding is a normal part of postpartum as the body transitions from pregnancy and birth. However, if you feel your bleeding is abnormal, contact your doctor.

In the first period after birth, you may still be experiencing heavier periods which can be caused from the changes in your uterus and the mucous lining throughout pregnancy and birth. As this continues to pass and go “back to normal,” your periods should also.

What is a “Normal” Period After Baby?

Just like pre-baby, normal looks different for everyone and every body. According to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic, an average menstrual cycle is “28 days long; however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days.” The Cleveland Clinic also indicates that most women bleed 3-5 days “but a period lasting only two days to as many as seven days is still considered normal.”

As your cycle returns after birth, you should be thinking of “normal” as your normal pre-pregnancy and use that to identify if anything feels off. This also means if you had struggles like PCOS or endometriosis, they may return after having a baby (though you should have a continual conversation with your provider about this.)

Another consideration is if you were on birth control prior to your pregnancy. Birth control is known to shorten or even get rid of menstrual cycles and so you baseline of “normal” may be different when you are postpartum and not back on birth control.

Cramping During Breastfeeding: Is My Period Back Already?!

Some women wonder if their menstrual cycle is returning just days (or hours!) after giving birth.  Do not fear, you are not experiencing the return of your period. This is most likely involution- afterbirth cramping.

Afterbirth cramping is the process of your uterus returning to its’ regular size after growing during pregnancy and delivering during birth. This can be noticed most during breastfeeding due to the hormonal release.

I Had My First Period, Now Will They Be Consistent?

Once you’ve had your first postpartum period, you might wonder if you can count on a regular schedule. Chance are, it will take a few cycles in order for your periods to be predictable again. This means you want to still use protection if you are having sex and carry your favorite hygiene products with you (um have you tried Thinx Period Panties yet?!) Also remember that the flow, duration and cycle can change as your body regulates again and gets back into a rhythm. If you find yourself with erratic periods for months after you cycle returns, it’s a good idea to talk with your medical provider about this.

RELATED: Am I Ready for Sex After Baby?

So in short, it’s hard to describe exactly what to expect with your first postpartum period. Like pregnancy, birth, and all things postpartum- our bodies all recover and operate in different ways. Do not be surprised by a difference in duration or flow during your first few cycles after you give birth. Know the signs of any postpartum bleeding problems, and have open honest conversations with your medical provider about what you are experiencing so that you can have your periods with confidence.

do period underwear really work to hold bloodThinx Period Undies are my go-to for all periods, but I SO wish I would have known about them for postpartum and the first period after baby. They can hold up to 4 tampons worth, and are created to absorb moisture and smell. Seriously periods suck, but this can make it less sucky.
Plus, with the link you get $10 off your first order.
motherhood, Postpartum

Alternatives to Tampons and Pads: Making the Switch to Better Period Products

The Truth about Periods, Pads, and Tampons

Do you remember that time the boys and girls were separated for a special series of middle school health class? There was awkward talk about sex, boobs and vaginas. I even remember talking about how friendships could change and hormonal girl fights. I remember hearing about how you would be wearing a tampon and/or pad to soak up the blood and how everyone has that one time blood gets through and creates an embarrassing moment. What I don’t remember anyone talking about is how standard brands of tampons and pads can be full of toxins, how uncomfortable they can be, how the fill up landfills and how there are actually other options. I did not learn about tampon alternatives.

To be fair, “other” options weren’t as prevalent at that time, but you’re in luck because now there are so many more options for how you treat your vagina well and honor the feminine time. Whether you despise or don’t mind your menstrual cycle, having a way to deal with it that feels good is important.

Related: Am I Ready for Sex After Giving Birth?


are pads and tampons full of toxic chemicals and are they safe to use

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links which means that at no extra cost to you, Postpartum Together may receive a small commission from any purchases made on this page. Good news- we only recommend things we love to use ourselves and products/services that don’t suck. 

Why You Need to Ditch Most Pads and Tampons

Your vaginal walls are very permeable. This means that anything near them can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. While chemicals sprayed on cotton may not have a big impact on the tshirt you’re wearing, putting that cotton into you through your vagina runs greater risk. Having that cotton (and other elements we’ll discuss) resting on the vulva and opening of your vagina means that the toxins that are present in that pad or tampon have more access to your bloodstream and body.

Toxins Found to be Present in Pads and Tampons

Currently (August 2020) only the state of New York requires ingredients to be disclosed on packaging of period products. (Read about the recent bill signed by Governor Cuomo). Because tampons and pads are seen as “medical products” there is no regulation and no federal bill stating that ingredients must be disclosed. This is a problem when it comes to products that go inside or near your vagina. According to Women’s Voices for the Earth 2018 testing, “Previous testing of tampons and menstrual pads have found pesticide residue, parabens and phthalates linked to hormone disruption, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, and various carcinogens including styrene and chloroform.” This alone is an alarm to find a tampon alternative.

Let’s say you have your period from the ages of 13-53. That’s 40 years of periods and 12 periods a year. Let’s take out 3 years of no periods if you have 2 children. 40×12=480 -36 =444. Four hundred and forty four periods. Four hundred and forty four days of wearing something inside of you for 5(ish) days. That’s 2,220 days of products inside of you (or lining your vulva). With that frequency, it makes sense that you would want to protect and be mindful of what you’re using.

With chemicals, pesticides, dyes and sometimes fragrances compromising tampons and pads, that’s a lot of exposure. If you haven’t thought about this before, don’t beat yourself up or feel ashamed. We aren’t taught this in health class. Most of the time this isn’t mentioned to us by our PCP or OBGYN. There is a lack of education and support surrounding women’s reproductive health and in an ideal world we wouldn’t even have to think about whether the products made for our bodies are safe. You’re here now- hooray! It’s never too late to make positive changes.

Waste of Pads & Tampons

Not only are feminine hygiene products unregulated and containing potentially harmful chemicals, they create a lot of waste. I know, there are a lot of things that create a lot of waste, but this is one step each of us can take to cut down on our waste. Not only do the actual products create waste, but plastic tampon applicators and pad wrapping also creates waste (read more from National Geographic here).

Save Money with Tampon Alternatives

I like to keep things honest so I’m going to tell you truthfully- there are options that are going to be cheaper than your regular tampon and pad purchases (like using a reusable menstrual cup) and there are options that will be more expensive (like having 4-5 pairs of period underwear) so if price is the major factor for you, switching to a cup is going to be what saves you the most money.

Related: First Period After Baby

What to Use for Your Period Instead


do menstrual cups work


do thinx period underwear actually hold all your blood

Period Underwear as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Non-intrusive, nothing to change in and out all day, eco-friendly, reusable, prevents accidental leaks
Cons: Harder to have on hand for emergencies, More expensive

Menstrual Cup as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Cheapest option, eco-friendly, reusable, toxin-free silicone
Cons: Messy, Some believe it can cause TSS (though very unlikely, read more here)

Washable Pads as Tampon Alternatives

Pros: Reusable, nothing in and out all day
Cons: Hard to stay in place, easy to leak

Related: Finding a Pelvic Floor Therapist and Why You Need One

Why I Choose Thinx for Period Care

Recently I upped my period game and made the switch to Thinx Period Panties. While I’ve been free of disposable period products for years now, this was a step from using mostly cups to now primarily using the underwear. First, I bought one pair to try them out. I noticed that the absorbance exceeded my expectations, they were comfortable to wear, I didn’t experience the “stink” throughout the day and didn’t feel gross and wet. My husband even commented on how cute they were. This is more than I can say for any other type of period product. ALSO while I haven’t personally had this experience, I’ve been told they are GREAT for postpartum bleeding once you graduate from the momma diapers!

As a previous cup user, I really enjoyed not needing to empty my cup, get blood on my hands, find a sink, etc., especially in public places. Along with how convenient and effective they are, I also feel great about supporting a company committed to eradicating the taboo of postpartum and providing effective solutions around the world. Have questions about using Thinx for your periods? You can find all my Q&As on my personal Instagram. Head to the profile highlights and find “Thinx!” and check back to the blog as we share more information about Thinx, periods, postpartum and more!

If you want to try Thinx for $10 off your order, you can find my favorite style and all the details here!


why should you switch to period underwear