Postpartum periods

I’m on vacation with my family, both the one I was born into and the one I birthed, and I am bleeding. Vulva Baby is ten months; with the Boychick I had fourteen, a difference that might not seem hugely significant until faced directly with that half-year difference. I have with me one menstrual sponge — “just in case”, proving either precognition or paranoia — and not so much as a preemie cloth diaper else. I am surviving on simple tasks and stolen Tylenol.

So regale me please, in these my days of need, with tales of YOUR first postpartum periods. How quickly did your menstrual cycle return? Were you expecting it or were you surprised — pleasantly or otherwise? Were you across the continent from your pads and place and pieces of comfort? Did it return and bring with it body dysphoria? Do you long for the perfection of uterine transplants so you can discover their joy (or not) for yourself?

Tell me your stories, that I can curl around them like a too-hot rice pack, soothing and slightly too much at once, and so be comforted.

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34 Responses to Postpartum periods

  1. I had only seven amenorrheic months after Daniel was born (despite bed sharing and nursing on cue around the clock), and my cycle returned (like you) while I was on vacation: away from my soft cloth pads, my familiar bed, and even my partner. I was surprised and exhausted, and I felt unprepared. I’m really REALLY feeling for you in this moment. *Hugs*

  2. Deena (nelleellen)

    I baby-led nursed, and had 18 months with the first one, 16 with the second. Both cycles were preceded by the PMS from Hell-breast engorgement and tenderness, grouchy mama-ness, the works. And of course, of course, I was wearing light colored shorts the second time around, and had a house full of daycare kids. Ugh.

  3. I am jealous of those who remember their first postpartum periods. I have a memory issue; I don’t remember my pregnancy (whether or not I had cravings, how much weight I gained, what clothes I wore, what personality changes, if any, that I had), I don’t remember O’s birth apart from tiny two- or three-second long flashes, I don’t remember much of his infancy and toddler years. When my periods came back and what they were like is one of those pieces of information that was lost in the ether of my fractured brain. :/

  4. I had 12 months off with my first baby, and only 6 months off with the second – so that was just recently, I have had 2 periods so far since their return. It was quite unexpected so soon. The biggest shock for me has been extreme emotional PMS. Before the first period, I had no idea what was happening, but for a couple of days I yelled at people unreasonably, cried at everything… then went to the toilet and looked down, saw that red smear and thought: of course! A month later, I felt the mood return, but this time was able keep some perspective on it. I don’t know why I’m experiencing these symptoms stronger than ever before. I was initially disappointed at the return of bleeding so soon, but then came to feel pleased and comfortable with the familiar rhythm of my body.

  5. This might be an odd post to de-lurk on, but really the only good thing about restarting my cycle only two months after birth is the fun of complaining about it. Yeah. Two months, even with co-sleeping and full-time nursing AND pumping to donate to a dry friend. My tear was just barely healed and I really thought that it had ripped open somehow.
    Anyway, love your blog. Hooray for your functional organs!

  6. With my first I was still feeding at night and frequently during the day until 8 months so it held off until 11 months. That was fantastic! I was pretty disappointed it had come back after 20 months off. With the second I got it back at 7 months, presumable because I wasn’t feeding as frequently and only once at night. Also disappointing, it didn’t feel like a long enough break. I was at home on both occasions and it just felt like same same.

  7. I breastfed for 4.25 years (exclusively for 6 months), bed shared, nursed all night, everything and I still bled at 6 weeks postpartum, again at 8 months, and got my period back for good at 11 months.

  8. I don’t remember how long it took before my periods returned but it was pretty soon. I had a C-Section and apparently they scrubbed me out REALLY well because my post partum bleeding in general was pretty light. My first period, however, was so excruciatingly painful that I called my APN and asked for a vicodin refill because I could feel cramps all along the incision. My periods have been oddly light for the past three years (I have fibroids and endo and am used to monster clots and heavy bleeding) but I now seem to be returning to normal.

  9. With my first my period came while we were on holiday, i woke up in the morning with blood soaked sheets. That was fun trying to explain to the Portuguese cleaner in the hotel why there was blood everywhere. I got mine at 13 mo.

    And the second time I was at work with zero supplies with me. I stuffed loo roll in my knickers and went out at lunch to get pads. I was about a year postpartum.

    I have come to the conclusion that postpartum periods always come when you are least prepared and when there is the greatest likelihood for embarrassment!

  10. I have yet to get a post partum period… has been since April 2007. At 24 months post partum with DD1, I got pregnant with first ovulation and I am currently at 22 months post partum with DD2. My husband isn’t ready to try for another baby yet, so I checked out your post as I am expecting to get it around the 2 year point.

  11. With my first I got it back when she was almost 25 months old. I had 2 periods and then got pregnant again with my son. This time around my son was a whopping 31 months old – yep 2 1/2. I love co-sleeping and breastfeeding! I’m surprised how many women are getting their periods back so quickly even with co-sleeping and breastfeeding full time. I wonder if there is a reason for that? Anyways, I’ve found that my period is not that bad anymore… I used Hypnobabies for my second birth and teach it now and so I’ve been trying to use the cues when I have my period to make myself more comfortable! ;-) It does seem to help. Basically I get really relaxed and I also imagine anesthesia everywhere. The first and second day are the most uncomfortable but I’ve not needed a painkiller since getting my period back in March. Oh, and I’m using the Diva cup for the first time too, not sure if that helps things or not.
    Oh, and both times I suspected my period was coming, I actually felt ovulation and had other signs of fertility returning (mucous) – I have used Natural Family Planning (NFP) since a year before conceiving my daughter (our first) so I’m really familiar with my body now. This time when I got my period I was in Florida on vacation and packed tampons because I suspected the time was near. We actually went to Busch Gardens the day I got it! I was joking that I was ready to have another baby… but if we do go for #3 I’m going for an even bigger gap (our first 2 are 3 years apart – couldn’t have had them any closer due to my period not coming back!)
    As you can see this topic interests me! ;-)
    Be Well Arwyn

  12. Oh, I made a little mistake – with my first she was almost 27 months (every month counts!)

  13. Do you long for the perfection of uterine transplants so you can discover their joy (or not) for yourself?

    Yes. Despite the pain, I think I’d feel more human. One of the things that I both found unsurprising and tearfully wonderful is the prostatic utricle: it’s the male homologoue to the vagina and uterus. It’s comforting to me to know that we all have the same parts, it’s a matter of what is developed and what remains undeveloped.

    Of course, if I was doubled over in pain my perspective might shift a bit.

  14. Oh dear! Hugs to you — sending virtual warmth and freshly baked chocolate oatmeal cookies (or any cookies you’re into). 

    With Eryn I had 14 blissful period free months and then another 8 months of the strangest irregular cycles. I was completely unprepared and had to send the Hubby out for the necessities. His first time :) 

    The first words out of my mouth were “OH MY GOD!” I was totally shocked. But it made sense why nursing felt like needles were piercing my nipples. I thought it was thrush it was so bad :P

    On a related topic, I’m 9 weeks post partum and STILL bleeding. What’s up with that?

  15. With L, it returned at 5 months (to the day), and tho I then bled regularly, I didn’t think I ovulated regularly for several months (yay NFP).

    With E, it returned at 4 months, and I was regular from the off. Regularly in awful pain, that is.. I would rather be in labor than have cramps like those again, it hurts way less! Those did abate after a few cycles.

    Both kids, nursing on cue, cosleeping, yadda yadda.

    I’m hoping that E will continue to nurse through this pregnancy, and that tandem nursing will delay my cycles further, because seriously?!

  16. I had 1 period at 6 months PP and then not another one until Claudia was 1.5yo.
    And now I can say that cramps are just as painful as contractions and ppl will believe me now :/

  17. I’m not a mama (yet), so I can’t speak to the return of your postpartum period. But I am here to happily (even if you aren’t happy) remind you that you are on the Moon-cycle! The full moon was on July 3rd, so I imagine it influenced your own cycle somehow. I feel really connected to this (being also regularly on the moon cycle myself). I assume your postpartum period will be somewhat erratic in the first few months, but if you’ve got a moment to yourself (curled around your hot-rice pack) read up on the moon- it’s speaking to you!

  18. 14 months PP after my first, when we were down to nursing about twice a day. My periods were very much like my pre-pregnancy periods. Then I didn’t have a discharge after my second but must have ovulated because I conceived my third at 16 months PP, when I was down to nursing about once a day. almost 12 months PP with my third and no period in sight. But we are still nursing about 5-8 times a day, so it’s going to be a while, I think. I’ve only had 4 periods in about 6 years. The only reason I miss my regular cycle is that my libido is crap.

  19. I just remembered something else. With my first baby I used the minipill as soon as I became fertile. The second time I didn’t. What I found was that almost every month, just before my period came my baby would have a middle of the night crying fit for an hour that nothing would soothe! It must have really affected my milk! She grew out of it thankfully even though I’ve only just stopped BF her at almost 3 years.

    Has anyone experienced this?

  20. With my firstborn, my cycles returned at 8 months pp to the day. I conceived my second two months later. So far, I am 11 months out and still no period, though I sense it’s coming soon. I’ve been twinge-y and moody, and have had two dreams that my period was starting. I have no idea how long it will be, but the only difference between this post-partum time and last is that I’m tandem nursing – we still co-sleep, feed on demand, baby-led weaning, etc. Although I had to get a full time job and am finishing my second week of that, but I still pump 3 times in 8 hours and nurse on demand at home. Gah, I have no clue when its coming back and would really love if it held off for a while longer!

  21. First was 14 months (only one before pg with second), Second none (however at 18 months pg with third), Third was between 18 and 24 months but took another 12 months to settle into predictable timing. From memory the first few post my third were fairly bad and hard to pick when they would start (ranged from 2 weeks to 8 weeks between), I had to work off other signs of how I was feeling.
    (((((hugs)))))) it is no fun however long it takes to return.

  22. I had a Mirena IUD put in shortly after birth, so I haven’t actually had a period in four years. Well, that is to say, I don’t have bleeding. I still get breast tenderness and other symptoms, inc. cramps, but it took me a while to recognize them again.

    I still have a stash of pads and tampons that I am finally thinking of donating somewhere.

    • Yup, this is my story, too.

      Be well, Arwyn! I am sending good thoughts your way in the hopes that this transition is a smooth one.

  23. I bleed all the time. My life is one big long bleed-fest. I think I started bleeding a couple months postpartum. I also have a 23 day cycle off the pill, and spot half the time on it (no exaggeration). Being genderqueer makes it extra-contorted psychologically. Fortunately, after 14 years, I’ve found a path of of minimal psychological resistance.

  24. My cycle came back a few days before my sons first birthday. We has stopped night nursing a few weeks before that and I was (finally!) able to get a full nights rest. I was not annoyed at all to get it back because it also brought my mojo back! I also discovered the sea sponge after having been a cup wearer for many years before getting pregnant, I had bought the larger menstrual cup size and found that I just bled around it.

  25. First baby: 6 months. Second baby: 3 fricking months. I was pissed. I’d barely stopped my lochia.

    After the first birth, my cramps went away, as if by magic. And after this one? They have returned, with a vengeance. Screw them.

    Um…but, yes, happy return to your monthlies. Heh, heh. (I might be a little PMS-y at the mo…)

  26. With my first I made it 12 months, almost to the day of her birth. I should have known it would come soon since I had stopped pumping at work a month earlier, but I was completely unprepared. I was at a christening celebration for a friend’s baby, at a church I don’t attend. I had to fold up paper towels and rush home. I was not happy to see my period at all because I really loved not thinking about it. I hope it takes longer to return this time after my second baby who is now 3 months old.

  27. I started having bleeding cycles when he was seven months old, and started ovulating again at ten months, even though he was still exclusively breast feeding at that point….

    I recognized the feeling of the pre-bleed cramping so it wasnt too messy. I was delighted to find that bleeding was lighter and with less cramps than before i gave birth!

  28. I went back on the mini pill around 10 weeks post partum with both children and my periods returned around 6 months when I switched to my regular pill. I had to go on the pill at 16 due to extremely painful and irregular periods.

  29. My postpartum period came today, right on my Birthday! Surprise! I exclusively breastfeed and my baby is 5 and a half months old. Though I was hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with it so soon.

  30. I found this thread because I’m still not menstruating at 17 months out. I love not having my period but it was starting to feel like a long time. Glad to hear I’m not the only one. Round the clock breast feeding and pumping. DD has always been more of a nibbler liking to have milk about every four hours if not more frequently.

  31. We stopped breastfeeding when my little one was 5 months because I ended up in the hospital (previous mental health issues + postpartum depression) and I ended up on meds that made nursing no longer safe and lo was hooked on a bottle after my hospital stay… but I still have milk in and my period only came back last month (spotting) and in full now (lo will be 2 next week.)

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