Your Period After a C-Section: When Will It Return?

When will my period return after a C-section, and what will it look like? We have answers to your most pressing questions. 

Woman Holding Pad From Box Of Feminine Supplies
Photo: Kunlanan Yarist/Shutterstock

If you're one of the millions of people who has delivered via C-section know this: You are not alone. Up to 32% of individuals in the United States give birth via this method each year. Still, if you've had a cesarean section, you probably have lots of questions—some of which involve your monthly menstrual cycle. When do you get your period after a C-section? Does breastfeeding affect your cycle? And should you expect light, heavy, or irregular periods after a C-section?

We've got all of the answers—and more. Here's everything you need to know about how C-sections affect your period.

When Will I Get My First Period After a C-Section?

Having a C-section or vaginal delivery does not impact how quickly your period will return. What does affect menstruation, however, is whether you choose to breastfeed your baby. "Most individuals who don't breastfeed will have their periods return at 6-8 weeks postpartum, if they had regular periods before getting pregnant," says Pamela Promecene, M.D., professor and obstetrician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth/UT Physicians in Houston. "If a person is breastfeeding, return of menstruation is more unpredictable. Many who breastfeed exclusively, for example, will not have menses return for several months."

What Factors Impact the Return of Your Period?

Besides breastfeeding, height and weight also impact the return of menstruation, says David Colombo, M.D., Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Spectrum Health. "The form of birth control will also play a factor," he says. "For example, if a person is on the shot (Depo-Provera), it could be a year before it returns." What's more, if your period wasn't regular before pregnancy, it might still be irregular after a C-section.

What Will My Period Be Like After a C-Section?

Wondering if you'll experience bad periods after a C-section? The truth is that after your period returns, it can take a while for the cycle to be totally regular again. You may notice small blood clots, irregular flow, or increased period pain after a C-section. That's because a lot of your uterine lining must shed with the return of menstruation. Some people also experience a heavy period after C-section, while others have a lighter-than-normal flow.

If you're worried about period symptoms, or if you think you should be menstruating and you're not, give your doctor a call. Also see if your doctor for extremely heavy bleeding (soaking more than one pad per hour), very painful cramping, foul-smelling discharge. clumps bigger than golf balls, and menstruation accompanied by fever.

Is It My Period or Lochia?

After both vaginal births and C-sections, individuals shed a mixture of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue known as "lochia." This vaginal discharge can last for several weeks postpartum. However, lochia is usually lighter in color than your period; it may even be a creamy white, pink, or brown. It also smells "sweet" and increases with physical activity.

Can You Get Pregnant After a C-Section?

It's important to remember that even if you're not menstruating regularly while breastfeeding, you can still ovulate and become pregnant. This is most often the case for moms of babies older than 6 months, who are eating solid foods and breastfeeding less frequently, or for babies who get a combination of breast milk and formula, because levels of breastfeeding hormones may not be high enough to suppress ovulation. So if another baby is not in your game plan right now, be sure to use a reliable method of birth control.

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