C-sections are common surgical procedures performed during the delivery of a baby. C-sections, also known as cesarean sections, require a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus to safely deliver the baby. While c-sections are generally a safe procedure, they do come with more risks than a natural vaginal birth, and can come with complications as well.
C-sections are often either performed in a response to an emergency problem that arises in order to ensure the baby is born safely, or they can be scheduled in advance due to various reasons.
It’s common knowledge that after you give birth, your menstrual cycle will return again in the next few months. Having a c-section birth can affect the nature of your menstrual cycle when your period returns.
When will your period return?
Hormones play a significant part in the menstrual cycle, and so the return of your monthly period will be based off your hormone levels post-c-section delivery. After giving birth, the levels of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and hCG (Human Chronic Gonadotropin) decrease.
Breastfeeding your baby can also affect your hormones, keeping the prolactin level high and therefore delaying ovulation for up to six months. This isn’t necessarily accurate for every woman, so it is important to still be safe while having sex at this time.
If you do not breastfeed, your prolactin levels will likely decrease. For women who choose not to breastfeed, the menstrual cycle will likely come back on average about six weeks after delivery, definitely after four weeks and up to twelve weeks. If your period hasn’t returned after three months, you should consult with your doctor to rule out any serious issues.
It might be different for every woman, as the return of your monthly period will be determined by how soon your hormones return to their pre-pregnancy state. Levels of HCG must be lowered, and estrogen and progesterone must balance out. Women may also ovulate before they even see the return of their period, which is important to keep in mind when having sexual intercourse, as ovulation may occur while you are unaware.
What kind of period will it be?
C-section deliveries can often affect what kind of period you experience when it returns post-birth. Your period might differ in a number of ways, including in length of occurrence, menstrual blood color, and the amount of blood. After you deliver a baby, you may experience bloody discharge for 4 to 6 weeks after delivery, which should not be confused with your period.
The first week after giving a c-section delivery, you will experience heavy bleeding, which is perfectly normal and will lessen. You should not use tampons, as they can increase risk of infection post-surgery, so it is important to stick with sanitary pads only during this time. This discharge is called lochia, and gradually becomes lighter in color and lessens over time until it ceases.
When your period returns six or so weeks later, it will likely be different than the regular periods you had before. Your period can become irregular, although over time your cycle will balance out and become regular again. It is common to also experience periods that occur with heavy cramping, or even periods associated with lighter bleeding and less cramping. It all depends on the hormonal changes going on in your body after delivering your baby, which can vary from woman to woman.
How do c-sections affect your period?
Our monthly cycles are sensitive, and so any major stresses or changes put on the body can alter them. Since c-sections are a surgical delivery, our bodies need time to recover and heal afterwards, and the added stress and tiredness can affect the menstrual pattern.
Similarly, women recouping from the surgery will typically need to get plenty of rest, and so women who find themselves feeling over-exerted or having a difficult time getting back into physical activity may find that their periods are also affected as a result.
Other factors affecting menstruation post c-section delivery include the typical factors that result from pregnancy and birth, such as weight gain, weight loss, additional stress, and added complications and health issues. These issues can delay the period or cause irregularity.
It’s common to notice differences and irregularities in your period after undergoing a c-section delivery, but there are some signs that may indicate a more serious problem. Heavy, increased bleeding that soaks your sanitary pad in a short amount of time may be a cause for concern. Similarly, ongoing bleeding that lasts for more than a month post-natal should indicate you need to visit your doctor.
Since c-sections are a surgery, it is important to keep an eye on your body during recovery. Incisions that swell, become red, or seep pus can indicate an infection, as well as odorous discharge from the vagina. If you experience any of these differences following your c section, it is important to see a doctor.