It is pretty clear to anyone that there are changes that occur when you are pregnant. Besides the apparent growing baby bump, many changes take place inside your body when you become pregnant that people don’t tend to think about. Once you’ve found out you’re pregnant, you’re already looking forward to the baby bump, stretchy pants, and crazy cravings. For most women, the thing they are most excited about is not having a period for the nine months they are pregnant. But there is more that you should know about your period when you are pregnant other than just that you don’t get it.
Here’s What Happens to Your Period When You’re Pregnant
Once you become pregnant, your period stops happening for the duration of your period. To understand why you must first understand what happens during your period.
The First Half of Your Cycle:
The first half of your monthly cycle is known as the follicular phase. During this phase, your uterus lining thickens, and there is an increase in the levels of FSH or follicle-stimulating hormone. This hormone helps several follicles on your ovaries grow, although one of the follicles will grow faster and stronger than the rest. The healthy follicle begins to produce estrogen, which leads to the other follicles breaking down. As LH, or Luteinizing hormone, begins to surge, the follicle releases an egg. This is known as ovulation.
The Second Half of Your Cycle:
The time after ovulation is also known as the luteal phase. During this phase, the ruptured follicle that just released an egg closes and forms a structure called the corpus luteum. This is what is responsible for producing progesterone. Assuming the egg isn’t fertilized, the corpus luteum degenerates, which leads to a drop in both estrogen and progesterone. These decreases trigger your uterus to shed the built-up uterine lining. This is known as your period.
However, if the egg is fertilized, then your body reacts differently. The fertilized egg is known as an embryo, which implants itself into the uterus. Once the embryo is implanted, it begins to produce a hormone called HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin. This hormone prevents the corpus luteum from breaking down, resulting in it continuing to produce progesterone. Progesterone’s continued production helps keep the uterine lining and cervical mucus thick, which is essential to ensure the developing fetus is kept nourished, and sperm and bacteria are kept out of the uterus. Since the corpus luteum doesn’t disintegrate and the estrogen and progesterone remain elevated, your body doesn’t shed the uterine lining, and your period doesn’t happen.
Reasons for Bleeding in Early Pregnancy
Although your period stops during pregnancy, there are other reasons that you might experience some vaginal bleeding while you are pregnant.
Before we discuss bleeding, it is essential to know that some spotting during the very early pregnancy stages can be completely normal.
- Spotting is a few occasional drops of blood on your underwear. This is not enough to cover a pantyliner or leak through your clothing.
- Bleeding is when there is a heavier flow that requires a pantyliner or a pad to keep the blood from staining your clothing.
It is also essential to know that bleeding in early pregnancy doesn’t always signal something wrong with the pregnancy. Occasionally women will experience bleeding when the fertilized egg implants into the uterus. Some other causes of early pregnancy bleeding include sex and hormonal changes.
However, there are some cases where bleeding during pregnancy indicates that something more serious is happening. One example would be an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants itself and begins to grow somewhere other than in the uterus. Because an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening to a woman if not treated appropriately, it is essential to report any spotting to your doctor right away so they can assess the situation. Another possible cause of bleeding in early pregnancy is miscarriage. If you are experiencing bleeding that is as heavy as a period, you should immediately bring it to your medical professional’s attention.
Your First Period After Pregnancy
The postpartum period, or puerperium, covers the first six weeks after the baby is born. This is the time that it takes a woman’s body to go back to its nonpregnant normal. While six weeks is the standard timeline, every woman is different, so it might be longer or shorter for you.
While you are in the postpartum timeframe, you might find that your periods return to their previous pattern, or you might find that they change. It usually takes longer for women who are breastfeeding longer for their periods to return than for women who don’t breastfeed. This is because your body requires your brain to produce higher levels of prolactin, which is a hormone that is also known to suppress ovulation. And you cannot have a period if you don’t ovulate. However, you might find that your experience non-menstrual bleeding for a variety of other reasons.
For those who are breastfeeding, the timing of when your period returns will depend on many factors. These factors include how much and often you are breastfeeding and if you are supplementing with formula. For many women who breastfeed, their regular periods begin again within thirty-six weeks, or nine months, of delivery.
You should know that your first period after having a baby may not be typical. You might find that your first period is exceptionally heavier than an average period.
For women who don’t breastfeed, their periods will return between six and eight weeks after delivering their baby.
It is essential to know about postpartum fertility because you can become pregnant again after delivery, even if you haven’t had your period return yet. This is due to ovulation happening fourteen days before menstruation, which means that your ovary can release an egg before you even realize that your cycles have resumed. If you don’t want to become pregnant again shortly after delivery, talk to your doctor about your birth control options.
Although having a baby is a beautiful experience, most women don’t want to repeat the experience nine months after giving birth. The best time to talk about birth control is while you are still pregnant, in the third trimester. If you already have a plan in place for after the baby comes, you might be able to start the method in the hospital before you are discharged.
Period Changes After Pregnancy
Although some women will find that their menstrual cycles fall back into their typical pattern after having a baby, this isn’t the case for all women. Some women will find that their periods are heavier, longer, or more painful. Some other women will find that their periods are lighter, shorter, and cause them less discomfort. If you are worried about any of the changes you experience with your period, make an appointment with your doctor. While in most cases, changes to your menstrual cycle are nothing to worry about, there are situations where the changes can indicate a serious problem.