ARE YOUR PE­RI­ODS IR­REG­U­LAR AF­TER CHILD­BIRTH?

Un­der­stand your cy­cle af­ter preg­nancy and de­liv­ery

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - BY SANIA DHIRWANI

Your men­strual cy­cle abates dur­ing preg­nancy and it re­sumes a few months af­ter giv­ing birth. While some women ex­pe­ri­ence an oth­er­wise reg­u­lar cy­cle, there are a few who face var­i­ous is­sues and ab­nor­mal­i­ties with their pe­riod. M&B helps you un­der­stand your cy­cle and how to deal with un­ex­pected prob­lems

Be­ing preg­nant and giv­ing birth to a baby brings a whole lot of changes in a woman’s body. One of the most im­por­tant ques­tions asked by women con­cern their men­strual cy­cle. Men­stru­a­tion is the prime in­di­ca­tor to un­der­stand the health of a woman. Dr Mon­ica Agar­wal, con­sul­tant ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy, Paras Bliss, Panchkula, says, “Hav­ing a child com­pletely changes your life. Phys­i­cal, men­tal and psy­cho­log­i­cal changes are com­mon. How­ever, a woman’s hor­mone lev­els are com­pletely al­tered dur­ing preg­nancy, and can some­times re­sult in var­i­ous is­sues. Ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods is one of them and the most com­mon symp­tom is amen­or­rhea or the ab­sence of men­stru­a­tion.”

There is no need to panic if your pe­ri­ods get de­layed, are ir­reg­u­lar or even dis­ap­pear for some time. This is a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non. The cy­cle de­pends on a lot of fac­tors such as phys­i­o­log­i­cal pa­ram­e­ters of hor­monal lev­els, stress and if you are breast­feed­ing or not. Read on to know more about the par­tic­u­lar­i­ties of ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods and its im­pli­ca­tions.

Ir­reg­u­lar­ity post birth

Men­strual cy­cle af­ter preg­nancy be­comes un­cer­tain, and there is no spe­cific time limit for when your pe­riod will re­sume. The time of its oc­cur­rence de­pends on an in­di­vid­ual’s hor­monal lev­els. Dr Agar­wal says, “Im­me­di­ately af­ter birth, you may have a bright red and heavy blood loss for 10 to 15 days. Then the colour be­comes light to pale pink or red­dish-brown. It then con­verts to a dis­charge of a yel­low­ish-white colour, be­fore it stops al­to­gether. It can also have a strong odour. This on-and-off bleed­ing and dis­charge can last for about six weeks. It dif­fers in women and it is ad­vis­able to con­sult your health­care provider, if any­thing un­usual oc­curs.” She fur­ther ad­vises that one should not use tam­pons or any other un­hy­gienic prod­ucts dur­ing this time, as an in­fec­tion can oc­cur. “You should use cot­ton-cov­ered san­i­tary nap­kins or ma­ter­nity nap­kins, spe­cially de­signed to help you deal with an in­creased blood loss af­ter birth. Change your pad every four to six hours, as bac­te­ria can grow eas­ily in the rich lochia.”

The char­ac­ter­is­tics of one’s pe­riod dif­fers from woman to woman. Some women ex­pe­ri­ence an im­mense pain dur­ing their cy­cle. This is due to the fact that the body needs some time to re­turn to its nor­mal state, and is caused by the re­luc­tance to full re­cov­ery, stress or in­flam­ma­tory pro­cesses in the pelvis, or strong con­trac­tions of the uterus. How­ever, for some women who ex­pe­ri­ence pain dur­ing their men­stru­a­tion be­fore hav­ing a baby, have found that their cy­cle has now be­come pain­less. This is due to the change of the po­si­tion of the uterus, elim­i­nat­ing ob­sta­cles and re­sult­ing in the nor­mal out­flow of blood.

Causes

This shouldn’t be a cause of worry. In­stead of pan­ick­ing, it’s im­por­tant that you are aware of the causes.

Breast­feed­ing:

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Agar­wal, “If you are not breast­feed­ing, pe­ri­ods will usu­ally re­turn as quickly as 10 weeks. Breast­feed­ing can de­lay pe­ri­ods for a year and in some cases, even up to a year and a half. Not men­stru­at­ing does not mean that ovu­la­tion is not oc­cur­ring. The hor­mone Pro­clactin, pro­duced in the pi­tu­itary gland dur­ing breast­feed­ing, usu­ally sup­presses ovu­la­tion but con­tra­cep­tion should be used to pre­vent a preg­nancy. Some­times, women be­come preg­nant in lac­ta­tional amen­or­rhea or the tem­po­rary post­na­tal in­fer­til­ity pe­riod.”

Weight gain or loss:

Some women gain ex­ces­sive weight dur­ing preg­nancy that can lead to ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods, heavy or long pe­ri­ods and the ab­sence of ovu­la­tion. On the other hand, los­ing weight can cause pe­ri­ods to be­come scanty, shorter or longer than nor­mal. Main­tain­ing a healthy diet dur­ing and af­ter preg­nancy is highly rec­om­mended.

Dr Agar­wal says, “Sev­eral other causes in­clude in­fec­tions, stress, weak­ness, tu­mour and thy­roid dis­or­der. In these cases, if the is­sue is not re­solved soon, it is ad­vis­able to con­sult your doc­tor.”

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