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First Period Postpartum: When and What To Expect

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The postpartum period is when a woman’s body heals from pregnancy and gradually returns to its pre-pregnant state. It usually lasts about 6-8 weeks after childbirth and brings many changes for new mothers. 

One significant change involves the return of menstruation, also known as periods, which can be confusing. Your menstrual cycle returns with changes in your flow and duration, which is different from what you experience before pregnancy.

This is because hormonal fluctuations after pregnancy can cause irregularities in your period for several months.

This guide explores what to expect during your postpartum menstruation when to expect your first period postpartum, and your milk supply.

What to Expect During Your First Period After Pregnancy

Pregnancy puts a pause on menstruation as your body focuses on the baby. After giving birth, your menstrual cycle restarts, and periods return, which is your first period postpartum.

After giving birth, your body sheds the lining of your uterus and extra blood vessels that support the pregnancy. This discharge, called Lochia, typically lasts for several weeks and is not the same as a menstrual period. 

Once Lochia subsides, you might experience some initial uncertainty, like variations in your flow, duration, and cramping, as your regular menstrual cycle starts again

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  • Understanding Variations in Your First Period After Pregnancy

    woman laying on sofa experiencing intense cramps after pregnancySource: getty_images
    Woman having intense cramps

    The hormonal shifts during menstruation after pregnancy might cause a temporary dip in milk production. This happens because of the decrease in Prolactins due to a slight increase in Estrogen during your first period Postpartum. However, this usually regulates itself within a day or two. 

    Your first postpartum period might differ from your pre-pregnancy ones due to hormonal changes. Expect variations in flow, length, and cramping, as discussed below:

    • Heavy Bleeding: You might experience heavier bleeding as your uterine lining rebuilds
    • Lighter Flow: Some women have a lighter flow initially
    • Shorter/Longer Duration: Your period may be shorter or longer than usual
    • Intense/Milder Cramping: Period cramps might be stronger or milder than before
    Prolactin is a hormone produced in the body. It is, essential for stimulating the growth and development of milk-producing cells (alveolar cells) in the breasts during pregnancy.

    When To Expect Your First Period Postpartum

    After giving birth, your period’s return depends on breastfeeding. 

    If you don’t breastfeed, it could arrive as early as 4-6 weeks, with most women having it back by 12 weeks.

    Breastfeeding, however, can delay your periods. Exclusive breastfeeding might prevent it entirely for 1-2 years, while some breastfeeding moms see it return after a few months.

    Seek Medical Attention If:

    • You soak through one or more pads/tampons hourly for several hours
    • Pain that interferes with daily activities or doesn’t respond to medication
    • You experience a foul-smelling discharge, which can be an indication of an infection such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
    • You pass large blood clots frequently
    • Your bleeding is very irregular after your first period returns

    These symptoms might indicate underlying issues that your doctor can address. 

    Not all medications and supplements are safe for breastfeeding mothers as they can affect the taste or production of your milk. Always consult your doctor before taking anything new while breastfeeding.

    Lochia vs. Menstruation: Differentiating Postpartum Bleeding

    The characteristics of Lochia and periods can overlap and create confusion for new moms.

    However, there are some significant differences between Lochia and Menstruation in terms of flow, timing, and cramps, among other features, that are discussed below.

    CauseShedding of uterine lining, blood vessels, and placental tissue after childbirthShedding of the thickened uterine lining 
    TimingCan begin immediately after childbirth and lasts 4-6 weeks(depends on breastfeeding)Occurs every 21-35 days in a menstrual cycle (not present during pregnancy and breastfeeding)
    FlowStarts heavy with red blood and clots, gradually becoming lighter, pink, brown, and yellow dischargeTypically starts moderately with red blood, becoming lighter over the period
    CrampsMay experience cramps due to uterus shrinking back to normal sizeCramps due to uterine contractions
    ContentMay contain tissue fragments and mucus along with bloodMainly blood and mucus


    The postpartum period brings physical adjustments, including the return of your menstrual cycle. Your first period postpartum will be different from your pre-pregnancy period, with variations in flow, length, and cramping. 

    After pregnancy, you experience a discharge called Lochia, which might seem similar to periods but is different. 

    The return of your period depends upon breastfeeding and can impact milk supply. Breastfeeding exclusively can delay your periods by a year or two. 

    However, be aware of symptoms that require a doctor’s visit, such as excessive bleeding, severe pain, or foul-smelling discharge. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do you lose weight after the first postpartum period?

    No, you might not see significant weight loss after just your first postpartum period. It takes time for your body to adjust hormonally and shed pregnancy weight. Consuming a nutritious diet and working out can help alongside breastfeeding for gradual weight loss postpartum.

    Will period affect the taste of my breast milk?

    Yes, hormonal changes during your period can slightly alter the taste of breast milk. It might become saltier and less sweet. However, this is usually temporary, and babies are adaptable. They should still feed normally.

    Is it okay to use tampons after pregnancy?

    After a vaginal delivery, it’s especially important to wait for your doctor’s okay before using tampons. They’ll advise on the right timing based on your individual healing process, which might involve waiting a few weeks to allow your cervix to close fully.

    Will my cramps be worse during my first postpartum period?

    The intensity of cramps can vary during your first postpartum period. Some women experience more intense cramps, while others have milder cramping compared to their pre-pregnancy periods.

    Can I still get pregnant before my first period returns?

    Yes, Ovulation can happen before your first period after pregnancy. This means you can still get pregnant, so use contraception if you’re not planning another baby right away.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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