Is It Normal to Have Irregular Periods After Pregnancy?
Irregular periods after pregnancy are a common experience reported by women who have become pregnant. The menstrual cycle occurs in order to prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy.
During this cycle, the uterus becomes lined and prepared for a fertilized egg, and the woman’s ovaries release an egg.
When the egg is not fertilized through contact with a male’s sperm, the uterus sheds its lining, causing the menstrual period.
After the end of the period, the menstrual cycle begins again. When the egg is fertilized, the menstrual cycle ceases and does not occur at all during her pregnancy.
Many women believe that once they have given birth, the menstrual cycle will resume its normal functions almost immediately.
Although this may be the experience for some women, in general, a woman’s menstrual cycle does not resume normally for several months.
This is due to the numerous amount of changes that a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy, which can in turn effect the hormones that regulate menstrual cycles and menstrual periods after pregnancy.
Irregular periods after pregnancy can manifest in several ways.
They may not occur around the same time as they did before the pregnancy, such as occurring in the middle of the month instead of the beginning of the month.
A woman may also experience a distinct change in the heaviness of her menstrual period flow, such as unusually light periods or unusually heavy periods.
The menstrual cycle may not resume normally for several weeks or in some cases, several months.
One of the main causes for irregular periods after pregnancy are hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are common in the first few months after childbirth and after postpartum bleeding has ended.
These hormonal changes may cause irregular periods for several months – usually three or four, but sometimes up to six or seven months – after a woman has given birth.
Some women do not experience irregularity, however, and can resume a normal menstrual cycle as early as a month after giving birth.
Women who do not breastfeed usually experience quicker restoration of their menstrual cycle over women who do breastfeed. This is because breastfeeding suppresses ovulation and menstruation in the body.
There are also several other conditions or factors which may contribute to irregular periods after pregnancy.
After giving birth, women generally experience what is called postpartum bleeding. Postpartum bleeding is the discharge of the uterine lining after birth. This bleeding can occur for up to 6 weeks after giving birth and is not considered menstrual bleeding because it does not take place during a menstrual cycle.
Postpartum bleeding is often confused for irregular periods immediately after pregnancy due to many women’s lack of familiarity with this post-pregnancy bleeding.
Typically, postpartum bleeding begins with bright red bleeding for several days, which gradually turns a pink or brown color over the next week. After two weeks have passed, the bleeding becomes a cream-colored discharge which can be experienced for about 5 weeks or so.
During the time of postpartum bleeding, a woman will not experience her menstrual cycle.
Breast feeding may also cause a delay in the menstrual cycle and irregular periods in new mothers. Breastfeeding can prolong the resuming of a menstrual period for up to 6 months, in comparison to 6 weeks in women who do not breastfeed.
So, is it normal to have irregular periods after pregnancy?
Irregular periods, such as periods which occur during different times of the month or are unusually light or heavy, are the rule when it comes to menstruation experienced for the first few months after giving birth. It is normal to experience irregular or “different” periods for up to three or four months in women who do not breastfeed and up to six months in women who do breastfeed.
Women who are experiencing abnormal periods for longer than four to six months should visit a physician to determine if there may be something else going on that is causing irregular periods. Most of the time, all it takes for the body to resume normal periods is time. The body will need time to get back to normal after the hormone-riddled experience of pregnancy.
There are certain treatments which can help regulate and stabilize hormone levels and could help get the body back on track in women who are not breast feeding. Women who are breast feeding should not take medications to regulate their hormone levels.
Women who experience irregular periods after pregnancy may find them to be annoying or uncomfortable, but they are rarely harmful or dangerous. If a woman experiences extremely heavy bleeding or sudden heavy bleeding or clotting, this may be a sign that a part of the uterine lining or placenta has not passed properly.
This could also indicate a uterine infection.
In both cases, medical attention should be sought to rule out infections or other more serious conditions.
So if you are still having irregular periods after pregnancy, you may want to consult with your physician.