How soon after birth will your period return?

How soon after giving birth will I begin to start ovulating and having a normal period? Can I expect the same cycle as before?

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Toni Weschler, MS

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Women who don't breastfeed find that their cycles resume very quickly -- as early as four to ten weeks after childbirth. If, however, you meet the following three criteria, then your chances of ovulating are only about two percent:

    • Your menses have not returned
    • You are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding
    • Your baby is less than six months old

 

If you wanted to have a safe and natural method of contraception during these first six months, you could use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

The first criteria of LAM is that you have not resumed menstruating. What this means in practice is that any vaginal bleeding before the 56th day is almost always anovulatory (and therefore can be ignored), assuming you are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding. Any bleeding after the 56th day should be considered a sign of resumed ovulation.

Full breastfeeding means that you are not giving your baby any supplements. The Institute of Reproductive Health at Georgetown University has shown through extensive studies that the contraceptive effectiveness of LAM is maintained even if your breastfeeding is nearly full, meaning that you supplement no more than 15 percent of all feedings. The risk of resumed ovulation is on a continuum and thus you should try to limit supplimenting as much as possible. In addition, full or nearly full breastfeeding means that intervals between feedings should not exceed four hours during the day or six hours at night.

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