There are many things women don't talk about after giving birth, and periods are one of them.
Like most things post-childbirth, your period might change temporarily. "As a general rule, your periods are similar to the pattern before pregnancy," Dr. Suzanne Wong OB/GYN at St. Joseph’s Health Centre tells The Huffington Post Canada.
But it might take some time to get there. "The initiation of periods after delivery depends primarily on the decline of the hormone prolactin after delivery," says Wong. Prolactin blocks ovulation, so as long as levels remain high your period may be delayed.
To learn more about what you should expect from your period during and post-pregnancy, see Dr. Wong's answers to common questions below.
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Is It Common To Get Your Period While Pregnant?
During pregnancy, your period should come to a stop. However, 25 per cent of women experience some type of vaginal bleeding or spotting in the early or late stages of pregnancy, says Dr. Suzanne Wong, OB GYN at Toronto's St. Joseph's Health Centre.
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Why Do Some Women Bleed While Pregnant?
"Within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, common causes of bleeding are from cervical bleeding, a threatened miscarriage, or an actual miscarriage," says Wong. Miscarriage accounts for 15- 20 per cent of all pregnancies and results in vaginal bleeding. Bleeding later in a pregnancy can also be a sign of complications.
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When Should Your Period Arrive After Birth?
If you're breastfeeding, your period may be delayed until you stop or, if you're alternating with formula, six months post-partum due to high levels of the hormone prolactin in your body, says Wong.
Supplementing with formula may also result in an irregular period post-delivery.
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What If You Don't Breastfeed At All?
According to Wong, non-nursing moms should expect to get their period 4 to 8 weeks post-partum, however they may not be regular right away.
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What If You Miss Your Period Post-Delivery?
Generally speaking, your period should return to normal shortly after giving birth, but if you don't get your period within three months of delivery, Wong suggests seeing a doctor.
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You Might Still Ovulate While Breastfeeding
Dr. Wong says it's important to remember that breastfeeding isn't a perfect form of contraception. If you're having sex while breastfeeding, it's important to use alternative methods of birth control to avoid unintended pregnancy.
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When Should You See A Doctor?
Bleeding as early as six weeks post -delivery could be a sign of pregnancy complications. "If you experience any bright red bleeding that is persistent and worsening over 3-4 days or passing large clots (larger than a golf ball) you should see your doctor," says Wong. If you are soaking through a pad within an hour or showing signs of shock, go to the emergency or call 9-11.
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada.
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