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 When will period return after delivery?

In general, a woman will have a puerperal period of around 8 weeks after a full-term delivery, be it a vaginal delivery or a c-section. The structure and function of the new mother’s reproductive system, especially the uterus, will gradually return to their pre-pregnant states and size over this puerperal period. After delivery, the remnants of the placental membrane and blood will gradually be detached from the endometrium of the uterus. This will manifest as vaginal bleeding which is not the menstruation but the lochia.
For the first 3-4 days after delivery, the lochia contains lots of dark red blood and hence called “lochia rubra.”
Later, about 10 days after delivery, the lochia should turn to light pinkish brown in color, and this is called “lochia serosa.” Around 3 weeks after delivery, the lochia should turn into whitish yellow in color, and this is called “lochia alba.”
If there is no intrauterine infection or persistent residual placental membrane, the lochia should not have a foul odor, and the amount should become less and less and should subside in about 4-6 weeks.

So, when will period return after delivery?
This will depend on whether breast feeding takes place or not. There has been a global campaign in promoting breast feeding as there are many benefits for both the baby and the mother during breast feeding. The breast milk contains the best combination of nutrients and antibodies that a baby needs. It will also strengthen the bond between the mother and the baby. Further, the suckling action of the baby on the mother’s nipples would reflexively stimulate the secretion of the prolactin hormone from the pituitary gland, and prolactin will stimulate more breast milk production. This hormonal reflex loop would suppress ovulation. If blood is taken to look at levels of different hormones at this time, prolactin would be elevated while estrogen and progesterone would be suppressed. Since there is no cyclical change of estrogen and progesterone, there is no ovulation and hence no period. However, around 4-6 months after delivery, the baby will start weaning and reducing the need of breast milk. Some mothers will then start to ovulate again and period will return.

But please remember that ovulation will take place prior to the period returns; therefore, if there is no wish of getting pregnant again, it is advised to have protection for intercourse during the breastfeeding period. It is best to use the barrier method i.e. condom, as this helps reduce the OC pills’ effects on the baby.

Unplanned pregnancy can cause great harm to a new mother both physically and psychologically. Therefore, please be extra-cautious if accident is not wanted during this post-natal period.