Having a child changes your life completely, including the way that your body functions. You may experience physical and psychological changes, such as enlarged or sagging breasts, wider hips, and mood swings. The body's hormonal chemistry may fluctuate after childbirth as it tries to develop and maintain a new equilibrium. This can cause a number of symptoms, one of which is irregular periods.
Why Do I Have Irregular Periods After Childbirth?
Pregnancy by nature changes your hormone levels. After you give birth, your body needs to revert hormone levels to their previous positions, and this transition may take time. One of the side effects of this may be amenorrhea, or the absence of menstruation.
Periods can continue to be sporadic after you've given birth or if you are breastfeeding. This can also cause periods to halt, and regular menstruation may not resume until your child is weaned.
It's important to remember that just because you're not menstruating doesn't mean you're not ovulating. You may still able to get pregnant, so remember to use condoms or other methods of contraception if you are sexually active.
What Are Some Tips for Dealing with Irregular Periods?
When your period returns after giving birth, it may be heavier, lighter, longer, or shorter than what you were once used to. This is fairly common. However, it can be inconvenient distressing, and even painful, and you may be unable to predict and plan for your cycle. Here are a few tips that might help you get your irregular periods back on schedule.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Returning your hormone levels to normal will often incite the return of menstruation. A well-balanced diet - lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water - paired with regular exercise can be surprisingly effective at restoring your body to stable hormone levels.
- Don't use the birth control pill. Because it is a hormonal treatment, and your hormones are already in flux from pregnancy, it's not advisable to use birth control pills as a contraceptive method at this time. If you are sexually active, use condoms or other non-hormonal methods for the time being.
More Information about Irregular Periods
Irregular periods after childbirth are normal. If your period has not returned after several months and you are not breastfeeding, it is best to consult a doctor. To read more about this and related topics, click on the following link.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.