Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Periods after pregnancy

6-minute read

If you have heavy bleeding and you have given birth within the last 6 weeks, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Why did my periods stop during pregnancy?

Each month, your body goes through a cycle of changes to prepare for a potential pregnancy. If you don’t become pregnant, your cycle ends and the lining of your uterus (womb) sheds — this blood is your period.

But if you do become pregnant, your body retains the lining of your uterus. That’s why you stop getting periods during pregnancy.

Can I bleed during pregnancy?

Even though your periods stop, you can still experience bleeding during pregnancy. This happens in almost 1 in 4 women for different reasons.

Many women who bleed during pregnancy go on to deliver a healthy baby. However, you should immediately contact your doctor or midwife if you notice bleeding from your vagina at any time during your pregnancy.

In early pregnancy, the fertilised egg implanting itself in your womb may cause bleeding. This is known as implantation bleeding. It normally only lasts for a few days.

Bleeding during early pregnancy can sometimes signal a problem with the pregnancy. It can be a sign that the fertilised egg has implanted itself outside the uterus — this is called an ectopic pregnancy. It could also signal a miscarriage.

In the later stages of pregnancy, vaginal bleeding can have many different causes.

What can I expect after the birth?

In the first few days after birth, it’s normal to have some period-like bleeding. This happens as your uterus contracts back to the size it was before pregnancy.

Bleeding immediately after birth can be fairly heavy. It can also be bright red for the first couple of days, but gradually becomes a brownish colour before it stops after about 2 months.

Bleeding might be heavier in the morning when you get up, after breastfeeding or after exercise.

Uncontrolled heavy bleeding after birth, called a postpartum haemorrhage, can be a serious concern.

If you've given birth more than 24 hours ago, contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you notice:

  • blood that soaks more than one pad every 1 to 2 hours
  • a sudden increase in blood or large clots
  • blood which suddenly turns bright red in colour
  • sweating, dizziness, weakness or trouble breathing
  • anything else that seems unusual about your post-birth bleeding

When will my periods return?

After birth, your periods will return at your body’s own pace. It’s possible for your periods to return as soon as 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth.

If you bottle feed or partially breastfeed your baby, you’ll tend to start having periods sooner than if you exclusively breastfeed.

If you choose to breastfeed exclusively, your first period may not return for several months. For those who keep breastfeeding, it might not return for 1 to 2 years.

There is no way to know if your periods will return the same way they were before you were pregnant. If you experience a different kind of period pain or your periods have changed, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Taking period pain medication containing naproxen is not recommended if you are breastfeeding.

Does breastfeeding affect my periods?

Not having your periods while you're breastfeeding is common. How long it lasts depends on how often you breastfeed and when you introduce other food into your baby’s diet.

It’s hard to predict when your periods will return after you give birth. How you feed your baby is only one factor that influences this.

Do I need to use contraception while breastfeeding?

Once you start ovulating, you can get pregnant. This can happen before you have your first period after giving birth. So, if you want to avoid pregnancy while breastfeeding, you should use contraception.

There are several safe contraception options you can consider while breastfeeding. Talk with your doctor for advice before resuming sexual activity.

Will a period affect the taste of my breastmilk?

Ovulation and menstruation mean hormonal changes are occurring in your body.

If you notice that your baby fusses at your breast when you have your period, it might be a sign that it tastes different temporarily. If you are concerned about anything related to breastfeeding, you can speak with a lactation consultant (health professional who specialises in breastfeeding).

When is it OK to use tampons again after pregnancy?

It's best not to use tampons until after your medical check at 6 weeks after you give birth. If your normal periods return before this, use a sanitary pad until your doctor gives you advice.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2022


Back To Top

Need more information?

Menstrual cycle: normal - MyDr.com.au

All you need to know about periods, including what's normal and what's not. Plus, see what happens inside your body during the different phases of a normal menstrual cycle.

Read more on myDr website

Period Problems | Family Planning NSW

There are a variety of problems that can occur with the menstrual cycle. Some of the common problems are covered briefly below but it is best to discuss any specific period problems with your local doctor or Family Planning clinic.

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Early signs of pregnancy

If you have a regular menstrual cycle, the most reliable sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Find out some other early signs that you are pregnant.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Menstruation - Body Talk

Girls usually get their first menstrual period between the ages of 9 and 16

Read more on Body Talk website

Managing period pain

Period pain (dysmenorrhoea) is common but might make it difficult for you to enjoy normal activities. Here are some ways to manage painful periods, and know when it’s time to see your doctor.

Read more on healthdirect website

Heavy periods - Better Health Channel

About heavy periods (menorrhagia or abnormal uterine bleeding). Details on blood loss, symptoms, causes, health effects, diagnosis, treatment and where to get help.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Understanding ovulation and the fertile window

When you want to have a baby you can improve your chance of getting pregnant if you know about ovulation and the ‘fertile window’ in the menstrual cycle.

Read more on Your Fertility website

Fertility awareness (natural family planning)

Fertility awareness means not having sex during the fertile times in a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Read more on WA Health website

Periods | Family Planning NSW

Read more on Family Planning Australia website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.