First Period After Baby: When It Starts (with Breastfeeding or Not)

The first period after having a baby will vary depending on whether the woman is breastfeeding or not. Breastfeeding causes spikes in prolactin hormones, which can block ovulation and delay the first period.

Therefore, women who breastfeed exclusively every day for up to 6 months after giving birth may not have a period. This time is referred to as lactational amenorrhea. However, when breastfeeding stops being exclusive, which happens around 6 months, or when it stops completely around 2 years of age, menstruation may decrease.

Despite this, it is also possible for a woman to have a period just a few months after giving birth, even if she is exclusively breastfeeding. Hormonal changes can vary from woman to woman, so periods can start despite of breastfeeding.

In the first 2 to 3 days after giving birth until around the 3rd week, it is normal for a woman to bleed vaginally, however, this bleeding is not considered to be a period. This occurs due to the elimination of the uterine lining and remains of the placenta, and is referred to as lochia.

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When do you have a first period after pregnancy?

The first period after a baby depends on if and how the woman breastfeeds the baby. If breastfeeding is exclusive, the woman will experience spikes in prolactin, which is a hormone that is responsible for milk production. High levels can inhibit ovulation and result in a delayed period.

However, breastfeeding with some bottle-feeding with infant formula may result in a sooner period, as prolactin peaks are altered from reduced milk production. Hormonal changes vary from woman to woman, however, and it is possible for periods to start independently of breastfeeding. Some women may exclusively breastfeed and still get a period a few months after giving birth.

In general, the onset of menstruation depends on how the baby is fed, with the most common times being:

How the baby is fed

When a period will start


Up to 3 months postpartum

Exclusively breastfed

Around 5 months postpartum

Breastfed and formula-fed

About 3 to 4 months postpartum

Can you get a period when breastfeeding?

In general, the longer the baby breastfeeds, the more delayed the first period after having a baby will be. When the baby starts to reduce breastfeeding frequency, it is possible to start ovulating, which will be followed by a period. However, this is not a hard rule, as hormonal levels can vary from woman to woman. Some women can start menstruating again even if the baby is exclusively breastfed.

A popular belief is that menstruation reduces the amount of breast milk produced, however it is the opposite relationship that is true: the less milk a woman produced, the more likely that ovulation will start and having a period will be.

Common period changes after baby

Menstrual flow may be a little different from what it was before becoming pregnant, and there may be a change in the amount of blood and color.

It is also normal for menstruation to be irregular at first, and for flow to be higher or lower for the first 2 or 3 months. After that, it typically becomes more regular. If it does not, you should follow-up with a doctor for assessment.

Because the first ovulation after childbirth is unpredictable, women are advised to adhere to a contraceptive method, even when exclusively breastfeeding. The contraceptive method used should be prescribed by a gynecologist to ensure the best type for the patient's needs. The doctor will consider whether the woman is breastfeeding or experiencing any other postpartum hormonal changes.

Also recommended: 9 Birth Control Options: Advantages, Disadvantages & Side Effects

If a woman is exclusively breastfeeding, she can start taking a contraceptive at around 6 weeks postpartum. The doctor will commonly prescribe a progesterone-only birth control pill, without estrogen, as this hormone can reduce milk production and quality. 

If the woman does not intend to breastfeed, she can start some contraceptive methods right after giving birth, such as normal contraceptives, or 48 hours after birth, and IUD, which will help regulate menstruation.