The many surprising, weird, funny, interesting, and frustrating changes your body experiences during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, don't end after the baby is born. On the contrary, your body will experience a number of drastic changes postpartum — including the first time you get your period. In fact, the first time you get your period post-baby will take you back to the first time you had your period, ever: You'll be slightly confused, a little concerned, sort of scared and definitely annoyed.
And sadly, thanks to our culture's child-like hesitance to talk about a very natural (not to mention, necessary) cycle in a woman's body, many women don't know what to expect about their post-baby period. We've all come to assume that talking about periods is "gross" or "inappropriate," so instead of having a social discussion (or at least an open, casual, and informative dialogue on something natural that nearly half the population experiences on a monthly basis) women are largely left in the dark, stuck worrying about what's "normal" and what isn't. Instead, women are made to feel like a very normal part of their existence is "disgusting" and not a single woman should ever be made to feel that way (especially after she's given birth).
So, in the spirit of transparency — and in an attempt to curb the stigma society has decided to attach to periods — here are 11 things people don't tell you about your period after having a kid. Because honestly, you guys, it's just a little (OK, sometimes a lot) of blood.
I don't know about you, but I was so excited the first time I got my period after having a baby. I couldn't fathom the idea of being pregnant again, especially when I was still trying to get used to being a mother and having a newborn. It's also recommended that a woman give her body a year to heal and recover from pregnancy and delivery. And I couldn't imagine getting pregnant again before my body was totally back on its game. So, even though I knew I was going to be experiencing painful cramps and some nausea, I was so happy to see that my period had arrived.
It may take a while for your period to return and your cycle to pick itself back up again. Exclusively breastfeeding can actually prolong or at least impact that process. So, if you don't feel like dealing with a period for a while, you might want to give breastfeeding a shot. (Of course, every woman's body is different so breastfeeding may not prolong your period as long as it has for other women.)
Your period will (probably) be much heavier when it first returns. You may even see blood clots, or darker spots of blood in your period. That is totally normal (but you should definitely contact your doctor if you see blood clots lasting longer than a week).
Oh, isn't science just awesome? Turns out, you don't have to wait for the return of your period to get pregnant. Even if it hasn't happened since having a baby, you can still get knocked up again. Not that you asked, but I highly suggest getting on birth control as soon as you can, and well-before your period returns. If you're breastfeeding, you'll have to be on estrogen-free birth control, or you can always try your hand at an IUD.
It might be difficult to time your period for a while. Remember, your body is still getting back to neutral and trying to re-establish itself. I suggest purchasing some comfortable period underwear.
Don't be surprised if you're, well, surprised at how heavy your period will be when it finally returns. It's pretty shocking, and it will be difficult not to go to the dark place and think that something is wrong and you're dying. A heavy period is completely normal, though, so don't worry. However, talking to your doctor never hurts and if it continues for longer than a week, you should definitely give someone a call.
Tampon vs. pad vs. menstrual cup is all about personal preference, and I'm not one to tell you what to do with your body and/or your period. However, in my experience, you'll probably want to stay away from tampons for a while. Your period may return before you're cleared for sexual activity or you feel comfortable inserting something into your lady parts. It may take some time for you to fully heal from labor and delivery, so if you don't feel comfortable putting a tampon in, then...just don't.
Because your cycle may take a while to get on any sort of schedule, you may have some regular spotting. Totally normal, as this is the body's way of cleansing after labor and delivery. There are some postpartum bleeding warning signs to look out for, though, so keep track of how often you're spotting, how heavy your spotting is, etc.
It's very common for many women to experience more intense period cramps, after they've had a baby. Oh, the joys of motherhood, right?
Then again, many women also experience lighter cramps and periods after they've had a baby. I've said it before and I'll say it again: All women are different, so how your body reacts to pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum and your first post-baby period, will vary from the experiences of others.
I will tell you one thing, if you were embarrassed to talk about your period before you had a baby, you probably aren't now. You won't feel awkward talking to your partner about the color of your period or the heavy flow of your period or anything in between. It won't bother you to loudly ask for a tampon or a pad, at a grocery store or anything else, and you won't care that other people know you're on your period. After all, your period is as natural as a pregnancy.