Finding Your new Normal

Finding Your New NormalSo many new things invigorate you (or keep you up at night) when a newborn comes into your life. Just like the mysteries of parenthood, your body will keep its secrets too. Once you manage your postpartum care in those first few weeks after childbirth, you may not need to pull your pads, cups, or sponges out again for a while. It varies from woman to woman and even from one woman’s pregnancy to her next.

Breastfeeding hormones can impact the return of your menstruation. Hormones, like prolactin, involved in nursing can also affect your other bits, though your ability to get pregnant may be present before your period returns. Some argue that the chance of getting pregnant while breastfeeding are no higher than when using some forms of birth control, especially if you are in tune with your body’s symptoms of ovulation.

When nursing, many women find their period returns when there is a decrease in nursing frequency, such as once baby sleeps through the night or begins taking solids. For others, the period remains long gone through the entire first year or until they finish breastfeeding entirely. During these months of ever-changing hormones, you could experience infrequent periods. On the flip side, exclusive or part-time formula use is more often associated with an earlier return of your menstruation cycle, as early as 4 to 12 weeks after birth. Pun intended, you just have to go with the flow, and all of these scenarios are within the realm of typical.

Every woman needs to have a plan in place before you experience your first postpartum period. Recall your 9th grade Health 101 class. Ovulation occurs (roughly) two weeks before your period arrives.  Ovulation and your period are not mutually exclusive, meaning you could have one without the other. Only you know what is in your plans for the game of life, but it is helpful to consult your doctor or other appropriate, trusted source if you want to play a game of risk, play it extra safe, or plan for another birth in quick succession to your newborn.

Another mystery in learning your new normal involves the characteristics of your new period. For many mamas, the old normal is the new normal. Others might be excited to see some of their previous harsher symptoms—intense cramping, very heavy flows—disappear to more manageable symptoms. The opposite is true for some mamas who will miss their light periods as fuller, longer, more intense symptoms become the new normal. You may also find more spotting book-ending your period or more clotting passing through the heaviest days.

If your period doesn’t return or you have any symptoms that concern you, contact your doctor to discuss them. A doctor can rule out fibroids or any other number of issues that can affect your cycle. If you deliver your baby in your late thirties or beyond, a long-absent period could be a sign of premature menopause. All of these variances are all the more reason to see this life experience as a new discovery, getting to know your body anew, your new normal.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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