Of women who choose not to breastfeed, approximately 80% find their period has returned within 10 weeks. Breastfeeding can delay menstruation and ovulation for 20 weeks or more, but it is not uncommon to find your period returning sooner, or much later, than 20 weeks.
There are differences among individual women and their hormone levels, so it’s difficult to say when a period will recommence after childbirth. Some women find their period returns the very next month after the birth and at the other end of the scale, some women don’t menstruate until well after twelve months.
When periods resume, it’s common for them to be heavier and/or more irregular than normal – often for months. Some women find that their first periods after baby are so heavy that they need to use both pads and tampons.
In theory, the period you had pre-pregnancy is the period you should have post-pregnancy. If you’re not breastfeeding, you can expect your period to return about 10 weeks postpartum (some women might not get it until much later, though), and at about 20 weeks if you are, though that, too, ranges wildly. The delayed onset of menstruation for breastfeeding moms is thanks to prolactin, a hormone that encourages milk production and can inhibit ovulation. Don’t be alarmed if it takes longer than the 20-week mark—some women’s periods won’t return for a year after they stop breastfeeding. And afterward? Well, all bets are off.
Ovulation After Child Birth
The chance that you will ovulate in the first six weeks post-birth is extremely slight.
When a baby breastfeeds, the sucking sends signals to your pituitary to release prolactin. If you breastfeed frequently enough to produce high enough levels of prolactin (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 fewer feeds your baby has (as baby becomes older), the greater your chance of ovulation. Some women might 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.
Signs Of Fertility Returning After Giving Birth
It can be very tricky to pin point when you’re fertile again. Signs that your fertility is returning include:
1. An increased sex drive
2. Increased cervical mucus