Heavy Periods After Childbirth – Why Are My Periods Heavy?

Heavy Periods After Childbirth - Why Are My Periods Heavy?

After I night-weaned my second born, when he was 18 months of age, my period returned with a vengeance.

It was so heavy I avoided going out when I had my period, in case of embarrassing leaks.

At first, I didn’t do anything about it, assuming it was due to my hormones getting back into balance after childbirth. But it continued for over a year.

As a result, my iron levels had bottomed out, leaving me feeling more exhausted than ever before.

Feeling defeated, I reached out to a friend, telling her I didn’t know what to do. I thought my period should have returned to normal by now.

She suggested I go on the pill – which I thought was a great idea. After all, it’s what most doctors tell us will help to regulate the menstrual cycle, and it had worked before, when I was a teen.

It also sounded like an attractive ‘quick fix’ for something that was making me miserable.

What I didn’t know at the time was that abnormal blood loss is usually the sign of a problem. The pill won’t fix the underlying issue – it’s simply a bandaid fix, masking what’s really going on. When you bleed while taking the pill, it’s not really a period, but a hormonal withdrawal bleed – which is completely different.

Why Might Periods Be Heavy After Childbirth?

There are a few reasons why your periods might be heavy after childbirth.

#1: Retained Products From Childbirth

If you’ve given birth recently, there could be retained products (e.g. parts of the placenta) still implanted in your uterus. Although many women never experience this, it certainly does happen, and it can affect breastfeeding too. If there is retained placenta in your uterus, you might have problems with your breastmilk coming in.

See our article for more information on retained placenta.

#2: Hormonal Changes

Because there is a relationship between the breasts and the uterus, hormonal changes associated with breastfeeding might be affecting your cycle. Again, this isn’t usually a major cause, but it’s something to consider when speaking to your specialist.

Increased abdominal fat can also be a culprit, as it is oestrogenic, and can mess with a woman’s hormones.

It’s important that any gynaecological issue be referred to a women’s health or reproductive specialist; family doctors do not usually have enough training to explore fully the underlying cause of the issue. Some will offer to help you, or put you on the pill, but the best way forward is with a specialist who has more in-depth training.

#3: Undiagnosed Gynaecological Or Endocrine Issues

According to women’s health and reproductive medicine specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr, the most likely cause of heavy periods after giving birth is an undiagnosed gynaecological or endocrine issue.

“Often the mother is totally unaware that she has a gynaecological problem because she’s been able to get pregnant and have a baby – so no-one assumes she has any fertility-related issues. But as some people will know, secondary infertility is a real problem. With secondary infertility, there are no issues getting pregnant the first time, but next time they try, it doesn’t happen and everyone wonders why”, he says.

Even if you have given birth with the help of an obstetrician, you cannot assume everything has been checked out and you have the all clear.

“Some of my patients who have had a c-section have been shocked to discover they have a gynaecological problem, because they assumed the obstetrician would have had a look, and said something after the c-section – but they don’t check for gynae problems, they just get the baby out”, Doctor Orr adds.

After a c-section (or any abdominal surgery) issues such as adhesions and infections can become a problem. And sometimes they have no symptoms at all, or symptoms appear much later.

Some examples of common gynaecological and endocrine issues which may contribute to increased blood loss during your period include endometriosis, polyps, fibroids, PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) or thyroid issues.

How Do You Properly Treat Heavy Periods After Childbirth?

As mentioned earlier, treating heavy periods after childbirth requires getting to the root cause of the problem. The pill simply masks what’s going on underneath, and allows any damage to become more serious. This is a terrible way of managing the problem, especially if you want to have more children in the future. Ultimately, the potential complications can affect your fertility and health.

“The first step is to get a referral to a women’s health or reproductive specialist”, says Doctor Orr. “A GP isn’t trained in treating gynaecological or endocrine disorders, so it’s really important to make sure you simply get a referral from your GP then obtain treatment from a specialist”.

Doctor Orr adds, “Ultimately, heavy bleeding needs to be addressed and not let go. The longer women have heavy bleeding, the more likely it is that they will become anaemic, and increase their risk of conditions like osteoporosis”.

If you come across a specialist who thinks the pill is sufficient to fix your problems (it’s very common), simply find a new specialist. Unfortunately, not all specialists decide to investigate in the same way. As well as specialist care, you can try complementary therapies, such as acupuncture (which helped me), or find a good naturopath. BellyBelly recommends Nicole Tracy of Nurtured By Nature.

Diet And Lifestyle Choices Are Important Too

Dietary and lifestyle changes are very important to support your body and keep hormones in balance.

It can be a challenge when you have a baby or toddler, but aim to get enough sleep per day, and nap if and whenever you can. Also work on eliminating stresses from your life, and seek support wherever you can find it.

Exercise – even a 30 minute walk each day – can help with insulin levels, and therefore hormonal imbalances.

Inflammatory foods that spike blood sugar levels – for example, grains and sugar – should be kept to a minimum, and ideally eliminated. Often, for busy and tired mothers, sleep and a good diet go out the window, leaving them in a repetitive pattern of being tired, propping themselves up with sugar, then being tired again. It’s a terrible cycle to be stuck in.

You Don’t Need To Suffer In Silence

If there is just one takeaway for you in this article, I hope it’s this:

You don’t need to suffer in silence, because help is out there to work out the root cause once and for all. You deserve to be able to function at your best. With the demanding task of having a baby in your arms, don’t go for the bandaid fix; go for solving the underlying issue, and you’ll feel so much better.

“I find that the reproductive system is often the first thing to go when a woman is run down and her immune system isn’t working well. Don’t put up with these uncomfortable problems in silence – we’re here and we want to help”, says Doctor Orr.

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Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.


  1. Thanks for this article. After my first three babies my periods were merciless. I never got to the bottom of it…. After my fourth baby, they are suddenly an absolute dream; painfree but still the regular length, cycle-wise.

    I was wondering if impending menopause would be the reason for suddenly manageable periods?

  2. Hi
    My baby is 10 months now. Since my first period, I have been bleeding for 3 months now with cheery size chunks every often.
    I took Transaxemic acid, Birth control pills and Premulot but nothing seems to slow down.
    Even went to King Eddy Womens Hospital and Dr said Keep taking Premulot and I came home.
    After 2 weeks of taking it, bleeding hasnot stopped or neither slow down.
    What to do next?
    Sorry, but I am having a feeling of suidal left with no help.

    1. You’re not alone!! I don’t have any medical advice to give but I’m having terrible pain and bleeding with each period and they are getting closer together. I want you to know you’re not alone and please seek help if you’re feeling so hopeless. Reach out to anyone for support. There is a solution to this we both just need to find it! I had a baby 21 months ago at age 41 and my pain and bleeding are worse each month. I’m looking into ablation but I don’t want more children.

  3. im on my second period after my first baby my first period was ok a few leaks but nothing to major but this one iv been on it since Tuesday and im leaking and getting blood clots coming out and look like its a blood bath every time i go to the bathroom i am actually worried to leave the house and i am going through pads like there is no tomorrow
    i am on the pill for contraception (cerelle) but last time i was on that my periods were really light to the point i only needed two pads in a day any suggestions?

    1. I had my period after I stopped complete breast feeding..it was 2 years.
      When I wean him for day time feed, periods came with very very little flow ..for 6 months.
      But, then came the bang…all of sudden. I started bleeding like there is no tomorrow. Every hour pads has to be changed. My gynac gave me pause500. .that too didn’t help much. This lasted 2-3 days, but with medication the nightmare stopped. I wasn’t able to walk, & was so week I couldn’t walk for 2 days. The recovery period was hell. I was soon kept on ultrasound to check fibroids, polips etc…but nothing .This continued for 7-8 months..by gradually the flow came back to normal. m2tone tablet helped me lot.
      But, the whole period system is so delicate, if you are sick, outdoor, or change of routine..it against gets painful.

  4. Hi ladies

    I don’t have any advice but am after some myself.
    My period was fine until I had two miscarriages, followed by having a assisted birth of my first child. Then my periods were not that heavy but painful, I was on co codamol for the pain.

    3years and 8months later and I’ve got a nearly 4 year old and a 10 weekold and I’ve just got my first period after giving birth.

    I have bad constant nausea, my period is really heavy, I keep feeling really weak.

    I’m a stay at home mother to two awazing babie!
    They don’t sleep much so I’m taking iron supplements to help with the tiredness.

    Please tell me someone knows something?

  5. Thanks for this article. I am passing through this right now at 38. Baby number 2 born 12 years after the first one. Since the birth of my baby 10 months ago through c-section, my period started a month later with a bang. The heavy flow that I was having from teenage has increased. I am no longer managing to use pads or tampons. I have started using baby diapers, at least they are staying for 2 to three hours before blood starts leaking out of clothes. I have booked appointment to see my doctor next week. I cant travel or drive long distances. I started period a month after delivery, with my first I started 4 months after delivery. Pre-menstrual signs include nausea, loss of appetite, metallic feeling in the mouth and strange abdominal pains things that I never experience before or after birth of my first baby. I am not on any birth control pills and have not been on any before except those given to moderate my period a few times before. Just wanted to share in case someone is also going through this.

  6. After my third csec Its been 5 month i have my periods but like 1 or 2 days spotin but this months it is so heavy bleeding n im also having light pain in my left side em also on breast feeding

  7. Hi!

    I’ve been experiencing heavy periods now…10 months after my C-section. My first period was 4 months after C-section. I had one the next month. It differed from pre-baby periods as they weren’t as heavy. I didn’t get it until now and it’s so heavy that it’s unbelievable! I have to change my pad every 2 hours… How long does it take for my period to come back to normal? I do have a history of PCOS… Could that be a reason?

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