When will my periods start again after pregnancy?

If you bottle feed your baby, or combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding, your first period could start as soon as five to six weeks after you give birth.

If you fully breastfeed (and do not combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding), it is possible that your periods may not start again until you stop breastfeeding. This is your body's way of preventing additional pregnancies while you have a small baby.

Spotting

When you start to breastfeed less, your periods will usually start to return. As your baby starts feeding less often, around three feeds a day, you may start 'spotting'. Spotting is a light and irregular period that usually appears as spots of blood.

Blood clots

Many women experience blood clots in their periods after giving birth. This is not usually a cause for alarm, and may occur as a result of your body healing inside. However, if you have had blood clots in your period for a week, you should speak to your midwife, health visitor, or GP.

If your period does return while you are breastfeeding, it may be irregular. It is not unusual for a woman's menstrual cycle to go quicker, or slower, than normal while she is breastfeeding. Sometimes, a woman who is breastfeeding will skip periods altogether, or have months in between periods.

Fertility

You may become fertile again soon after pregnancy.

After pregnancy, it is important to remember that you can still be fertile (able to get pregnant) even though your periods have not yet returned. This is because a woman ovulates (releases an egg) about two weeks before she has her period.

This means that you may become fertile again before you realise it. If you do not want to become pregnant again, it is essential that you use contraception when you have sex, whether your periods have returned or not. Speak to your GP, health visitor or midwife for advice.

Find out about options for contraception after birth.

After having a baby, your periods may be either heavier, or lighter, than before. If your periods become irregular or if you are not fully breastfeeding, and your periods have not returned after a few months, you should speak to your GP, or health visitor, for advice.

This advice also applies to women who have had a stillbirth.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 27/03/2013

Next review due: 26/03/2015