When Will My Period Return Postpartum?

The return of your period, or menses, following the birth of a child is an event that is unique to each delivery. What you may have experienced with your own children could differ completely from your experience as a surrogate. It is unlikely that you will be able to predict when your body ovulates or when your period will return. While many factors can impact the length of time between birth and the return of the first period, most women will experience a return of menses by twelve weeks postpartum.

Post Natal Bleed vs. First Period

Every woman will experience a postnatal bleed, called lochia. Some women confuse this bleed with their period, especially when the lochia stretches over an extended period of time.  While both bleeds will come from the vagina, they are caused by different things and denote different conditions. The postnatal bleed is the result of broken blood vessels that once held the placenta to the uterine wall. This bleed will continue over several weeks as your uterine contracts back to pre-pregnancy size and your body heals itself. Your period blood, however, is the result of your body shedding uterine lining after failure to detect an implanted embryo (pregnancy).

Things That Can Delay Return

Some women will notice a very swift return of menses, sometimes within a couple of weeks following the cessation of lochia. Others may experience an extended delay that can last many months, sometimes up to a year. Women who breastfeed or pump frequently may experience a delay in ovulation for an average of six months. Other things that can cause delay include a hormonal imbalance or the overabundance of stress on your life. If you feel concerned about a delay in your period, you should talk with your OBGYN.

Birth Control

It is important to note that you are capable of ovulating at any time following birth, including during your lochia. It is entirely possible to ovulate before your post-partum bleed has concluded. If this happens, it is possible that you could become pregnant before your period ever returns. For this reason, it is important to talk with your OBGYN at your six week checkup about birth control. You’ll want to mention if you are still pumping breast milk, as some hormonal birth control methods could impact the quality or quantity of your supply.  Many providers will recommend barrier methods, such as condoms, or an inter-uterine device (IUD), which can usually be placed as soon as six weeks post-delivery. 

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.