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What Happens to the Period After a C-Section?

By M. Haskins
Updated May 17, 2024
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A woman's period after a c-section is often different than it was before giving birth, and these changes can affect the period's regularity, how heavy the bleeding is, and the pain associated with it. On average, a woman will have her first regular period after a c-section, also called postpartum menstruation, 45 days after delivery, but anywhere from seven to nine weeks is common, and for breastfeeding women it can take even longer. Some women experience heavier periods after giving birth, and many also report having more irregular periods than before. Women who have suffered from painful cramps during their period before childbirth can sometimes have less cramping when their menstruation resumes. It is important to note that ovulation can resume before the period after a c-section, and it is possible to become pregnant even if one has not menstruated after giving birth.

Changes in one's period after a c-section are usually related to general physical and hormonal changes caused by giving birth, rather than the c-section procedure itself, and are similar to changes experienced by women who give birth vaginally. Breastfeeding is one of the most significant factors affecting one's period after a c-section. It usually takes much longer for a woman's period to return if she is breastfeeding than if she is not, due to hormonal changes associated with lactation. Some women experience light periods and irregular periods while breastfeeding, and some do not menstruate at all until they stop breastfeeding. However, it is possible to become pregnant while breastfeeding, even if one has not had a period.

Several other factors such as stress, weight gain, weight loss, and various health issues such as thyroid problems can also affect the period after a c-section, often delaying it or making it more irregular. Some women have problems returning to regular physical activity after giving birth by c-section, which can affect menstruation. Not getting enough rest and overexertion can also affect one's period, often causing heavier bleeding than normal.

During the first days of c-section recovery, it is normal to have very heavy bleeding, often up to a week. This bleeding is not a period, but is called post-natal bleeding or lochia, and is made up of blood, afterbirth and other pregnancy-related tissue from inside the womb. Lochia usually becomes lighter after about two weeks, and stops after two to four weeks after delivery. One should use pads rather than tampons during the post-natal bleeding because of the risk of infection.

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Discussion Comments
By anon941197 — On Mar 21, 2014

After my first baby I breastfed exclusively and my period didn't return for nine months, even after I stopped breast feeding at seven months. The second time, my period was back and much heavier four months after my baby was born and I was exclusively breast feeding, too.

By amypollick — On Nov 22, 2013

@anon356090: Could you be pregnant? I don't know. Wait a week or so and take another test.

You need to make an appointment with your OB/GYN to get your questions answered. No one on an internet forum can give you the answers you need. Only your doctor can. Please consult your OB/GYN to help you make these decisions.

By anon356090 — On Nov 22, 2013

I had my C-section four and a a half months ago. My period was there regularly back to normal but I missed my period last month. I am breastfeeding a little and bottle feeding my baby mostly. Not seeing my period has me worrying if I am pregnant. I took a pregnancy test and it was negative.

What do I do in this case? Can I be pregnant? Is it OK to have another c section so soon after, and what about the growth of the baby in the uterus seeing that it was recently stitched up?

By anon346861 — On Sep 01, 2013

I had a c-section in mid July, and to my surprise, I saw my period at the end of August, exactly 46 days after! I am African and I am breastfeeding exclusively. Is this okay?

By anon336928 — On Jun 01, 2013

I had a c-section last year in November, so my baby is about six months old. Am I pregnant again if I'm not having periods? Do I have to have a C-section?

By anon322672 — On Feb 28, 2013

I had two C-sections, but the last one was in May 2012 and I bled until December. I had no bleeding in January, but it started back and I've been spotting all day every day, but it's brown to black. I got birth control a few weeks after the c-section.

By anon320464 — On Feb 18, 2013

I had a c-section in late January and the doctor said I must use protection for five weeks. I am so bored with this. Please advise me what to do.

By anon316496 — On Jan 29, 2013

I had a C section five months ago and my period hasn't come back yet. I was breastfeeding, but am not so much anymore. Not seeing my period has me worrying if I am pregnant. I took many pregnancy tests but they all said negative.

What if you are pregnant? Would you be able to have another c section so soon after, and what about the growth of the baby in the uterus seeing that it was recently stitched up?

By anon314890 — On Jan 20, 2013

I had a c-section 10 months ago and I bled for about three weeks after giving birth. Now my cycle is regular, but I experience a lot of pain and cramps and it lasts for about a week. This was quite a change for me, because prior to being pregnant, I never had pain and it usually lasted for three or four days.

By kianna25 — On Dec 18, 2012

I gave birth by c-section in August and I'm not breastfeeding. The problem is it's almost four months now but still my period hasn't arrived yet. Is it normal? Just hoping that I'm not pregnant.

By anon301352 — On Nov 03, 2012

My son is 4 1/2 months old. I had the usual post natal bleeding which lasted up to a month. I did breast and bottle feed in the beginning, but that lasted about two weeks before we were exclusively formula fed. My question concerns the fact that I haven't had but one period. I have missed the past three months, and I've taken about five pregnancy tests -- all negative. Should I go to see the doctor about this?

By anon297700 — On Oct 16, 2012

Is it possible to have migraines during the recovery period from a caesarian? And what is the cause of having migraines?

By anon287398 — On Aug 25, 2012

I am having lighter and more frequent periods soon after my delivery. Please tell me if this is normal or I should see the doctor.

By stolaf23 — On Jul 26, 2011

@behaviourism- I think that sometimes it is. One of my aunts' first period after giving birth was really awful, but then she said they got much more regular. Meanwhile, I have another aunt whose period got much worse. Really, there's not definite possibility either way.

By behaviourism — On Jul 26, 2011

This is funny to me. I have a lot of issues with menstruation, and for awhile people kept telling me that after pregnancy, many women found that their periods changed, often for the better.

Well, it looks like for c-sections at least, this is not usually true.

By snickerish — On Jul 26, 2011

@aLFredo - Most people do not schedule c sections any more since research has come out showing possible negatives. Most c sections now are because they must be done for the health of the child or mother.

If you do end up needing a c section, the recovery timeline varies. Due to the surgery involved there are things to consider and things to do to help your recovery along from a few hours after delivery to when you go home.

Day three after surgery is when you usually will be going home but you will not be resuming normal activity! You will have to be careful not to lift heavy items and to take care of your incision area (but your doctor will give you way more in depth information on this part of your recovery).

Then you typically have a check up in 6-8 weeks and the doctor will give you the okay to do more regular activity such as exercise and sex.

So yeah, there are many things to know about with c sections on top of menstruation after c sections!

By aLFredo — On Jul 25, 2011

There are even more things to think about if you are having a c section than I could imagine!

I was just listening to a news program on the radio that discussed that people had begun to schedule c sections for various reasons of convenience from wanting to make sure their doctor was going to be there to deliver the baby, to wanting to do it because relatives were going to be in town a certain week and they wanted them to be there to help with that first week post-having baby.

The conclusion of the news story was that children born too early due to planned c sections often have lessened immune systems.

I don't know a ton about c sections but hearing everyone's stories here and the article on even more affects of a c section; I would have to think seriously before scheduling a c section for my schedule's sake!

Another thing I have a question about with c sections - what is the timeline for recovery after having a c section?

By LisaLou — On Jul 25, 2011

I remember having mixed emotions when I had my first period after breastfeeding. I really did not miss having them at all and this also meant my baby was growing up so fast.

Every woman is different and you need to give your body time to return to normal. This time frame will not be the same for everyone. Even though there are many c sections performed every day, it is still surgery and you need to give your body a chance to recover.

When I had my c section I was in the hospital for a week after giving birth. I was thankful I had that time to get my strength back. It seems like many women I know now are out of the hospital within a few days even if they have a c section. I don't think this would have been enough time for me.

By julies — On Jul 24, 2011

I had a c section for two of my deliveries, and had some bleeding for a few days after both of them. With my second one, I had some idea of what to expect after a cesarean section and that helped quite a bit.

My doctor was good about explaining what to expect after giving birth, and he told me that having this bleeding was to be expected and was not a period. I didn't breast feed, and my periods came back within two months.

By bagley79 — On Jul 23, 2011

Your body goes through so many major changes from the pregnancy to giving birth, and having a c-section adds to that stress and imbalance.

My cesarean section recovery took me longer than I realized it would. I am very thankful that my mother was able to help me out or I don't know how I would have managed.

I also breast fed, so it was about 10 months before my period began after giving birth. It is pretty common for most women to not have a period for quite some time after labor if they are breast feeding.

By Mae82 — On Jul 22, 2011

Has anyone ever gotten pregnant after their c-section when their period just hasn't resumed?

It has been almost 5 months since the birth of my boy and I still haven't gotten my period back. I am not sure if this just has to do with my breastfeeding or if something else is up. It is a bit disconcerting having it be so long since my last period as I was under the impression that things would return to normal once I had given birth.

Right now I am taking precautions to not get pregnant, but I am not returning to birth control until after I finish breastfeeding. I don't want to pass anything on to my child. I am always cautious about that sort of thing.

By Sara007 — On Jul 22, 2011

My mother actually filled me in on a lot of the things that happen to your period after a C-Section. When my own delivery was coming up by C-Section I was really stressed out about all of the things that would be happening to my body after I gave birth.

I found that the post-natal bleeding was the most distressing part of the process as I hated having to wear extra thick pads to do anything. I also had a great deal of discomfort. Most of that was taken care of by painkillers the doctor gave me. As for my periods, they were sporadic for a long time but I wouldn't worry if you find this happening to you. Just wait and they'll get back to normal.

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