First Period after a C Section: What to Expect

You’ve endured pregnancy and all the body changes that came along with it. You’ve endured pain. You battled serious cases of the munchies, and you dealt with crazy mood swings. You missed a lot of things about pre-pregnancy life – but your period wasn’t one of them.

Whether you C section was planned or an emergency procedure, there’s one thing you can be certain of: your period will return.

[Read more about C-Section]

When can you expect Aunt Flo to return? What can you expect?

Your Period Won’t Return Until You Start Ovulating Again

Your body needs to start ovulating again before you can start getting your period again. When this starts happening will depend on your body, your hormones and whether you’re breastfeeding.

No two women will start their periods at the same time after a C section.

Some women will get their period as early as 45 days or as late as nine weeks if they’re bottle feeding. Women who are breastfeeding may not get their period again for another six months (another incentive to breastfeed).

If You’re Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can prevent ovulation for up to six months after you have your C section. Keep in mind that this only applies to women who breastfeed over a 24-hour period. If you’re supplementing your breast milk with bottles, your period will return a lot sooner than expected.

If you’re breastfeeding all the time, you may start ovulating again when your baby transitions to solid food, or your baby starts sleeping through the night.

Don’t take the six-month rule to heart. Some women have breastfed exclusively and their period returned just six weeks after giving birth.

[Read more about Giving Birth]

If You’re Bottle Feeding

Women who are bottle feeding or supplementing breastfeeding with bottles will get their periods a lot sooner, usually 4-12 weeks after giving birth.

If you’re bottle feeding and still haven’t gotten your period after three months, consult with your doctor as there may be a medical issue causing the delay.

Your Period Won’t Be Normal

The first period after a C section is rarely normal. Remember: your body has just gone through a rollercoaster of changes. Pregnancy kept you from ovulating and menstruating, so your body is a little out of practice. And you’ve gone through so many physical and emotional changes, your period is bound to be a little wacky when it finally returns.

Some women have spotty periods, while others have exceptionally heavy periods.

Your cycles may be irregular for months until your hormones are balanced again.

Bleeding may be really heavy or really light. You may also see more clots, and your cramps may be worse than before your pregnancy.

[Read more about Cramps]

It’s Normal to Bleed after a C Section, But This Isn’t Your Period

After a C section, it’s perfectly normal to experience heavy bleeding for the first week. This is not your period, but rather a normal cleaning of your uterine tissue.

Nurses call this bleeding “lochia.”

After a few weeks, this bleeding will taper off and disappear in the first month after birth.

While it may be tempting, it’s important to avoid using tampons during this after-birth bleeding. Use sanitary pads instead because tampons can increase your risk of infection.

Breastfeeding is No Substitute for Birth Control

While breastfeeding may delay ovulation and your period for up to six months, you shouldn’t rely on it as a form of birth control.

You have no real way to know when you’ll start ovulating again while you’re breastfeeding. If you don’t want to get pregnant again right away, make sure you get back on birth control.

The last thing you want is a surprise pregnancy just after you’ve given birth – especially if you’re not ready for it. Don’t rely on ovulation predictors or body signals. Get back on birth control as soon as possible if you don’t want to get pregnant anytime soon.

Other Factors May Affect When You Get Your Period

Ultimately, it’s your body’s hormones that will determine when you get your period again. Breastfeeding certainly affects your hormones, but there are also other factors that may delay or speed up your period’s return, such as:

  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Stress
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Thyroid issues
  • Exhaustion

All of these factors may delay or shorten your cycle. Your body has gone through so many extreme changes because of pregnancy, so things like stress and changes in your workout routine can dramatically affect the flow and length of your cycle.

Most women are eager to restart their fitness routines after giving birth to get rid of the baby weight, but extreme changes in your activity level can actually delay your period.

A C Section Will Not Delay Your Period

If you were hoping a C section would delay your perid, I have bad news: it won’t.

The procedure itself has no effect on your menstrual cycle, which is controlled by your body’s hormones. Once your hormones return to normal, your cycle will return whether that’s just six weeks or six months after your baby is born.

You Should Know When to See a Doctor

It’s impossible to predict when you’ll get your period again, and no two women are the same. Some women won’t get their periods again for six months, while others will get theirs after six weeks like clockwork.

With that said, it’s important to know when to see a doctor, so you can address any potential medical conditions that may be causing the delay.

See your doctor if:

  • Your period has not returned after six months.
  • You experience heavy bleeding for more than two cycles. Heavy bleeding means you’re soaking through at least one tampon or pad in just one to two hours.

Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. Follow your instincts – they’re usually right.

It’s important to remember that a C section is a surgical procedure, and your body will need time to recover. Keep an eye on your body throughout the recovery stage. If you notice any swelling, strange discharge from the vagina or serious pain, see your doctor right away.