Menstruation, Your Period and Ovulation After Baby

Immediately following the birth of your baby, your blood loss will be bright red and slightly heavier than a normal period – though it shouldn’t exceed a sanitary pad every 4 hours. If it does, please refer to your midwife or doctor. The loss and blood flow will decrease over the next week, and the colour will alter to a paler red, then a brownish-red colour.

The discharge (also known as lochia) may then become yellow-white in colour before it ceases. You will notice an odour, which is strong but not offensive. While the blood flow should stop after a week or so, light blood loss may last for around 6 weeks after the birth and is not a cause for concern – it differs for each woman. If worried, contact your midwife or doctor for advice.

It’s important that you use sanitary pads and not tampons after the birth of your baby. Tampons obstruct the blood flow and can encourage the growth of bacteria, which could lead to infection. Make sure you change your pad every four hours (or more if required) as bacteria can build up quite quickly, particularly in lochia.

Some women prefer to use the thicker maternity pads initially, as they are more padded and protective. When you are ready, you can always switch to ultra thin pads.

You should see your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • A persistent red discharge
  • Large blood clots
  • Sudden bright blood loss
  • Offensive discharge / odour, or,
  • A tender uterus

The Return Of Your Period After Giving Birth

Of those who choose not to breastfeed, approximately 80% of women find their period has returned by ten weeks. Breastfeeding can delay menstruation and ovulation for around 20 weeks or more, however it is not uncommon to find your period returning sooner or much later than 20 weeks.

Every woman and her hormone levels are very unique, so its difficult to say when a period will recommence after childbirth. Some women find their period will return the very next month following birth and at the other end of the scale, some women wont have menstruated until well after twelve months. I found it to be even longer than this! I breastfed my first born until she was a little over two and then fell pregnant with baby number two. I didn’t get my period until my second born was 20 months, when all overnight feeds had stopped.

It’s also common to have heavier and/or irregular periods than normal when they do resume, for months on end. Some women find that their first periods after baby are so heavy that they use both pads and tampons due to the flow. I found this happened after my second born, so I saw a good friend of mine who is an acupuncturist and I was blown away when he was able to regulate my cycle in one month – no more heavy bleeding. Acupuncture is a great, natural and safe option for cycle regulation. Just make sure if you go down this path, you find an acupuncturist who has a special interest in this area. It’s not essential, but when I approached my old osteopath who also does acupuncture, I asked about cycle regulation and he looked uncomfortable – it’s usually a sports clinic and I guess he didn’t get many requests like that!

Find out when BellyBelly members found their period to return post-natally HERE, which includes a poll as well as a discussion. Please bear in mind though that the results are based on both breastfeeding mothers and bottle-feeding mothers, feeding at various intervals – so the results are a mix of all these scenarios.

It’s important to note that ovulation and menstruation doesn’t exclusively happen together – you may have your period without ovulation or you may ovulate and THEN get your first period shortly after – so you may not know that you are ovulating yet, which is how some women get caught out falling pregnant by surprise!

When Will I Ovulate Again After Giving Birth?

The chance that you will ovulate in the first six weeks post-birth is extremely low. When you see your obstetrician or midwife for your six week post-birth appointment, this is a good time to discuss starting contraceptives if you wish to do so.

When a baby breastfeeds, the sucking sends signals to the pituitary to release prolactin. If you breastfeed frequently enough so that there are high enough levels of prolactin (of which the threshold is unique for each woman), ovulation can be suppressed.

Exactly when you resume ovulating is hard to estimate. The longer you continue to breastfeed and the lesser feeds your baby has (as baby becomes older), this increases your chance of ovulation. For some women, they may not ovulate until they stop breastfeeding altogether.

A good way to find out if you might be ovulating while breastfeeding or in general is by observing your cervical mucus – see this article about cervical mucus observations. When my first born was two and still occasionally breastfed, I learnt about cervical mucus observations. One day soon after that, I noticed that I had highly fertile mucus, so I was able to spot that I was ovulating again. As a result, I was able to fall pregnant with my second child on that cycle. Of course, mucus observation can be used as a tool to avoid conception as well as achieving it. You can also use other tools to confirm ovulation, for example when you have fertile mucus, try using an ovulation prediction test kit or charting your temperatures.

Breastfeeding can be a good contraceptive (approximately 2% failure rate), as long as all of the following apply to you:

  • Your baby is exclusively breastfed
  • Baby is less than six months old
  • If you have not yet had a normal menstrual period since birth
  • Breastfeeds are no longer than 4-6 hours apart
  • Avoid using dummies/pacifiers

Signs Of Fertility Returning After Giving Birth

It can be very tricky to pin point when you’re fertile again, however signs that your fertility is returning include:

  • An increased sex drive – read why your libido is lower when breastfeeding
  • Increased cervical mucus. Right after a normal period you are most infertile, and you may have noticed you are pretty dry. The mucus changes depending on the stage of cycle you are in and how fertile you are – dry being infertile, sticky mucus also infertile, wet slightly fertile – but egg white cervical mucus is fertile mucus (not to be confused with semen after having sex!). Read more about cervical mucus and fertility.
Last Updated: May 20, 2015

CONTRIBUTOR

Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a doula, writer and mother to three awesome children. Currently, she's travelling the world for 12 months with her partner and children, and hopes to inspire more families to do the same. Visit aroundtheworldpluskids.com.au for more information.


78 comments

    1. My son is just 6 weeks and my appointment for my 6 week check up is in a few days . I breastfeed and all discharge had stopped but this morning I noticed blood when I used the bathroom and have been lightly bleeding all day . Is it possible to have a an actual period so early after giving birth ??

  1. If your wife has been bleeding from after the delivery of her child in January to now (March) she may need to see a doctor. On the other hand if she is breast feeding this can prompt bleeding as the uterus contracts. Either way it may be best to seek advice from a doctor. Hope this helps. Best wishes

  2. I had baby 5 months ago and I nurse baby often. Now I did have a light period 3 weeks after my 6 wk check up. I have been feeling bloated and gassy and cramping recently. Well the symptoms of a period every month but nothing happens. We use protection. Help me understand this is normal??

      1. I got my period twice after I had my baby I haven’t seen my period since then my baby is 5 months 7 months now.

  3. Good article. I had my girl January 17th, exclusively breastfeeding, but menstruation started on April 6th…ended Tues 8th, light stain 9th n 10th. But I woke up with blood stain in my panties this morning 15th. HELP!!!

    1. I had my second baby jan 26, and think my period has just arrived. I’m in shock. Totally out of the blue considering when I had my first it took 18 months to return! She is breastfed on demand so iv no idea why it would come back 3 months later!

      1. I had my baby on january the 27th i got my period on the june 13 and had unprotected sex 5 days after my period stop can i get pregnant i breastfeed my son on demand as well.
        Im scared to get prego again

  4. I had my baby 2/25/14. I breastfeed for about 3 months. In April 2014 I had a period but nothing since then. Some pinkish color when I use the potty. I also crap, feel bloated, etc. like I’m fixing to start but nothing. I have read online that some women can go 18-24 months after birth before their period comes back. I’m ready to have another baby but concerned that I won’t be able too. Some advice or if someone has had this happen to them please! :)

  5. Does breastfeeding include pumping (if you are working, for instance) every 4-6 hours? If it’s still every 4-6 hours does that affect ovulation in the same way?

  6. i had my first period again when my baby is two months old and next month i didnt have my second period is that normal?

    1. Did you already got an answers to your problem?
      Did you get your period ??
      I am having the same problem as you..
      I had baby on January got period 2 months later and nothing since then..

  7. I was pregnant 36 weeks but I lost my baby ,I wanna get pregnant again and very soon is that okay ?I mean after 6 weeks

    1. My Dr recommended me waiting 2-3 months after for my body to heal good before we tried for another baby. He said it would increase my chances of a healthier pregnancy and that the baby would have better odds. You may want to talk to your on or midwife and see what they recommend.

  8. I gave birth last November 26, 2014 and weaned my baby on March 6 then I had my menstruation on the 26th and lasted for 3 days. But my menstruation didn’t came on time ’til now. Is it possible for me to get pregnant after recent childbirth? I’m already worried about this because I recently had sex with my husband without using any birth control methods.

  9. I had my first period ten months after babe came it’s been two months and nothing since feels like it’s coming than doesn’t .. I have taken two pregnancy tests that are negative but I’m wondering if this is normal I’m still breastfeeding :)

    1. Exact same issue with my wife. She got a normal period ten months after baby is born. Now it’s been exactly 2 months since she saw any blood. One test at the docs office came negative. She will check again soon. We are trying to have another baby.

  10. My wife gave birth of a sweet child on 05.02.2015 but her mensuration some time stop & some time start .. no calculation …. i have advice from a doctor .. doctor give medicine .. no sutable result ..we have sex 2 times in last week in april 2015 & take IPILL tablets …the mensuration problem still now contuning. what i am do?

  11. I had my baby 2 months ago and DO NOT breastfeed. I had my first period 6 weeks after giving birth and I should have had a period this month like 4 days ago and still haven’t gotten it. I’m wondering if its normal to be irregular after giving birth when not breast feeding. I’m concerned as I had a baby a year ago as well. My little ones are 11 months apart and same thing happened, I got my first period 6 weeks after then it never came back and I was pregnant. Just wondering if someone knows or has had similar experience.

    1. hello. i had my baby on the 29 march i had a period 5 weeks after he was born im about 8 days late i did a test and was negetive even tho been protected each time. so in the same boat. i read a lot of women have had the same. as both of us if you fine a answer would love to know if its normal

  12. I got my period 13 months postpartum and I’m still breastfeeding day and night. My baby is 13 months.
    I’m so happy as I really want to have a sibling for my LO.

  13. I giving birth on april 20 2014 and then i reguraly breastfeeding but unitl now i dont have my period what should i do? Please help

  14. Hi…i had a 2 nd half year old baby girl and try for another baby since last 1 year…i hv also done ovulation home test at home for 3 times but it come negative…how can i ovulate properly

    1. Babe, the home test you did was it the ovulation prediction test kit you used? If yes, then try checking your mucus discharge on a daily basis and when you notice a slimy mucus like egg white , then you are ovulating. For a male child, ensure no intercourse till u are certain that you are ovulating.Cheers!!

  15. Hi girls ,
    See I gave birth to my sweet tiny sleepy beauty 4 weeks ago at 23 weeks gestation which she pass . I didn’t get no D&C since they said my placenta came all out ( sorry for tmi). i stopped bleeding and spotting after 2 weeks pp. At 3 weeks pp I just had this yellowish discharge that came and went , no odor nor any other symptom . Well 3 days ago I started spotting brown again and having back pain like AF was arriving but It stopped on Wednesday. And started yellowish discharge again til today . But I have been feeling bloated and gassy like I said as if “AF were to arrive” I really am worried because idk who to ask and what to do . Is this normal ? , has anyone gone thru this ? Like the symptoms are normal? Or is it something I should worry about ? . I have my appointment this coming Wednesday but I am just feeaking out a lot !! . Please reply . Thanks .
    I am also wanting to get preggo soon but I have to wait I know lol

    1. Sorry forgot to mention . I am 4 weeks pp now . And having this symptoms ( bloating , gassy , lower abdominal discomfort) as I said as if AF were to arrived .
      Am a bit scared . ( no I have not had any inter course w/ husband ) …

  16. i gave birth to my first heaven sent daughter. She’s nearly 7 months now. I had my first 2 or 3 monthly cycles like clock work. Then the next 2 came whenever they felt like. Now, the one that I’m on is lasting for over a week when previous ones were 3-4 days. Any possibility that I’m pregnant AGAIN?

  17. Hi I had my son in December he’s my third child I only bleed for two days after I had him and not that much either and I didn’t have a period while I breastfeed him for 3 months and when my first period came a month after I stopped it was really heavy to were I wore a tampon and pad now it’s my third period and it’s still really heavy

  18. Hi my girlfriend hasn’t seen her menstrual circle now for 26 months now. It stopped 6 months prior to the birth of our daughter and now after the birth of our daughter its been 20 month without seeing her menstrual circle, is this normal if not whom can we consult because we are worried.

    thanks kind regards

    1. Is she still breastfeeding? It can take a while to come back especially if she is breastfeeding. She could get a checkup with a local doctor — simply ask for hormone blood tests to see what’s going on. I also highly recommend acupuncture with an experienced Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, someone who specialises in fertility. It’s great at regulating menstrual cycles. Good luck!

  19. My wife gave birth of a child on 16/08/2015 after having baby 50 days continuing bleeding and after 1 month every 15 days her mensuration still now contuning. Is it normal?

  20. I had a back to back pregnancy 2011 baby girl 2012 girl and ny last was a boy Jul 31 of 2013 for about the last year I have gotten my period on time like always every 28 days but now its jumpin I will get it 2-3 months on time every 28 day then I will skip a month the it will come the first week of that followin month…..or it be like 6-12 days late.why? What’s goin on ……i cramp like its commin but then comes when it wants

  21. I just had my period back again last month (4mos 3wks PP) now i am 3 days delayed. Is it normal to lose your period again after just getting it back? I am exclusively breastfeed and no, i don’t think i am pregnant. Thanks

  22. My son is 10 months now and I stop breastfeeding exactly when he was 10. And I have been trying to conceive for about 3 months now and my period is irregular. Please I need help

  23. hi i had my daughter eleven months ago. my periods where every month and this momth i havent got it we been using condoms and i havemissed my period i used to have iirregular periods so im used to missing a period so it made it harder to find out if i was pregnant with her could it be just stress with a eleven month old and a boyfriend that has stomach issues that might need surgery?

  24. is it possible for a woman to get pregnant even though she’s already completed two menstrual cycles? just curious. thanks

  25. I had my baby on the 19/02/2015. She is exclusive fed. My period started and was regular in march april. I was expecting the next one on the 30th of may but missed it till now. My period had always been a 28 days circle and we use the natural save and unsave days as a control method. Could it be im pregnant again?

  26. Hi there,
    I gave birth 4 and a half months ago and for a week now have been having a brown-bloody mucus discharge – is this normal? My period has regulated itself and I am bottle feeding. I am Also on the pill. I have had it for about a week and am a little worried!

  27. I get birth to my son on february 16, 2015 the next month I have my period which is march and april , then on may and june no minstruation? Is this norml? Please answer asap? Thanks.

  28. I gave birth april 14 …got my pieriod may 21 2015 …. its now june 11 and im having bad cramping & bleeding is this normal ?

  29. I gave birth nov. 22, 2014, and i stop breastfeeding my baby on mid of March 2015, my question was, Until now I haven’t see my period. What should i do? is it normal?

  30. with all 4 of my children I exclusively breastfed till they were ready to stop. I had my period with my first after 18 months of breast feeding. Continued beat feeding her till she was 22 months and stopped because I found out I was prego w My second child. He gave breast feeding up at 12 months and that’s when my period came with him. My 3rd child little boy which was born. 2-27/12 exclusively breastfeeding and also worked full time so pumped at work. I got my period back in Sept of 2013 which he was 19 months old. I only had one period and got pregnant again. Breast feed him through my entire pregnancy and had my 4th and last precious little girl on June 18th 2014. Breastfed her and big brother till she was 2 months and took the 2 year old off. But continued with her. I work full time and pump at work as well, and she is almost 1 year old in 3 days and still no period. Seems like allot of people get there period allot earlier then me. I feel quite lucky. :)

  31. I had my daughter on may 20, 2015 and I bleeding till june 8 and now I’m feeling sick and having tightness in my stomach area I’m wondering if im pregnant again please help

  32. had my lil one on may 20 2015 i stopped bleeding on june 8th now i having stomach aches and a high since of smell and feeling sick please help

  33. I gave birth 4 march 2015 and bled 4 weeks after, i never breastfed, I’m not on any contraception as i have reacted badly in the past to the injection and the pill, we have had sex a few times and use condoms, i have had all the signs of my period coming for weeks now and nothing yet is this normal or should i go and see my gp

  34. I’m 14 months post partum. I had 2 periods early on and nothing until now a year later. I started spotting lasting only a few days, should I start preparing for regular periods? I’m still nursing at least 5 times at night and 4 during the day.

  35. I had my baby on 1st May 2015, had my period on 11th of June and am exclusively breastfeeding my baby without water. Really surprised the period came out, please is it normal? Or should I consult a doc. Pls really need reply

    1. It’s uncommon to get your period right after giving birth, especially when exclusively breastfeeding. Maybe just check with your doctor, in case there may be another reason for the bleeding. Sometimes you can bleed if there has been a retained placenta, but also some women find their period can be a bit erratic and irregular for a while after giving birth. Good luck!

  36. Need help kind of concerned. my daughter is now 4 weeks old I stopped bleeding by the time she was 2 weeks old, and just started my period yesterday. im concerned because im soaking through my pads underwear and pants and going through 3-4 pads an hour, I went to get in the shower and by the time I had finished rinsing off climbed out of the shower dried off and went to get dressed I was standing in a puddle of blood

  37. I had my first baby on 04/22/15 I breastfed her for a week and found it very difficult for myself so I stopped and have been formula feeding ever since , my fiancée and I had intercourse three weeks after giving birth ( yeah I know , we didn’t listen to my doctor . ) but I took two pregnancy test both negative , and now it’s been almost three months and still no period . but yet I’ve been gassy , cramping for the past three weeks or so and still nothing . is this normal ?

  38. I had my daughter 8 months ago i have had a regular period since then but now havnt had a period sine april ive also had discharge like i dis when i was pregnant with my daughter i took two home pregnancy tests one was positive one was negative and it will be a a few weeks before i can get into my doctor and im going crazy trying to figure it out

    1. Usually if a test comes back positive you are pregnant. Not very many positive tests are negative…but many negative tests can be positive. good luck

  39. I had my son 2 weeks ago and I have been losing my period for like 2 days it stops then I get it back In a few days. I want to know why that is happening I am not having sex or anything like that so I can’t figure out what’s going on?

  40. I had my baby girl 2/24/15 I stop bleeding 2/28/15 so me and my husband had sex..the next month I had bleeding for 7 days then the next month 3 days then the next month 2 days but I never stop haven sex my baby girl is 4 months she started rolling over at 2 month’s and teething at 3 months she’s sitting up now and I’m worried I may be pregnant I didn’t no with her until I was 12 weeks I have a period this month but 1 day and it was light pink I’ve been haven dizziness and feeling sleepy I need help with this I’ve been haven discharge my Breast hurts I’ve cramp a little bet I need help please

    1. Definitely. It took around 16-18 months each time for me, but I always did infant led breastfeeding and weaned when they were ready, around 2.5 years. We’re all different :)

  41. I just had a baby 5/8/2015 an bleed for a week heavly an light the following week ( 2weeks total ) an had my regular period two weeks later on 6/12/2015 I haven’t gotten my period yet an have been having unprotected intercourse taken a pregnancy test an came back negative twice already when I was pregnant with my first baby I didn’t find out until I was 5 months pregnant even with taking a test do you think I might be going through the same process or am I just being overly cautious? Also I don’t breastfeed an I know that can delay you menstral cycle. Please help

  42. I had a sweet baby boy on the 27/2/15 and had a heavy period in the 12 of June it’s now the23 of July and nothing I have been cramping and feeling funny
    Took a test and it was a negitive I bf when he want to and is also bottle feed as well as sold could I be pregnant

  43. I had my son via CS on the 4th of September 2014, from then till now I haven’t seen my period. My first daughter was tru cs too, but period came 5 months after delivery. I breastfed them exclusively, and introduced solid after 6 month. I wean them at exactly 1year old. My son (d 2nd child) who is 10 months now has started solid at 6 months but loves breastfeeding a lot. Am worried that my period is not out yet. Please help

  44. I had my daughter May 2,2015 with a Csection and never bleed.She is 2 months now.Finally started heavy bleeding July 23,2015.Is this normal?

    1. I had my baby May 13, he is a little over 2 months now, and I just started my period today. So far it’s a little heavier then normal. But same symptoms as before. I would say it’s normal! I only breastfed for a month, and that was it. Couldn’t anymore.

  45. I gave birth to a baby girl by Csection on the 15th sept 2014. I breastfed her exclusively for six months and have introduced cereals mixed with milk after 6 months. I had my periods regularly after six months of child birth. but since last two months I have not had my periods. My pregnancy test is negative. Please help.

  46. Dear sie,mam
    My baby is 10month old and since I have not my periods. I breastfed her onetime during the day and two to three time in night.Please tell me what to do?

    1. I’d definitely take her back to the doctor, just to check that there isn’t any retained placenta or other problems. Also make sure she is having lots of iron rich foods to replenish all that lost energy. She must be very tired.

  47. My daughter will be 5 months this months. I don’t breastfeed so i get my period every 24 days which is normal for me. The last 2 months that i have had it i have had clots in my period this time round it was everytime i wiped. There only small but having them everytime i wipe doesn’t seem normal to me. I also have been having migraines and headaches since my period last week. So i am a little worried and don’t know what’s happening any advice would be helpful. Thank you

  48. My daughter is 11 days old.I’m still seeing some redish-brownish discharge..is that normal??how long will it take those discharge to stop??

  49. I recently had my period two nights ago..after 2 years of absence (pregnancy-childbirth-breastfeeding) my bany will turn 1 yr old on sept 9th. I still breastfeed him while i also givevhim formula this is my 1st period since pregnancy im 25 yrs old and i am terrified of how heavy it is. I literally have to change tampons every 2 hrs at night i use both tampons and pads because of the heavy flow . is this “normal” or should i be worried theres something wrong going on in my body?!?!? Please help

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