Periods after pregnancy
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.
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.
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Last reviewed: October 2022