A Very Happy Post About Menstruation

I had an entirely different post planned for today, but something has happened and it’s pretty darned important in the “big picture” of my life these days, so I thought I’d share.

I got my period!! :D :D

All you squeamish folks, please exit quietly to the left…

….or stay and learn about postpartum menstruation!

Why am I sharing what might be considered TMI? Well, because just a few days ago I was seeking out the same information. It had been nearly 14 period-free months since my son was born, and I was beginning to think my cycle would never return.

Would it ever return?

When was the normal time for it to return?

Would I have to stop breastfeeding in order for it to return?

I had so many questions.

Anytime it came up in girl talk at the office or with friends, I always got a shocked look when I mentioned that I had had no Flo yet. I was assured by my doctor, LLL leaders and various reputable online sources that while some breastfeeding moms return to their normal cycle quickly, the AVERAGE is 14.5 months for moms who practice “ecological breastfeeding,” which is, for the most part, what we did without knowing it for months. Ecological breastfeeding includes not only nursing on demand both day and night, but keeping baby close to you, nursing in a side-lying position for naps and nighttime, comfort nursing, and NOT using bottles or pacifiers. (Source: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/fertility.html)

But still, I worried. All those shocked women would tell me that they had breastfed, too, and that their cycles returned after 6 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 4 months. They looked at me like I had 4 heads.

So, I wondered, “What was wrong with me?”

What I realized after a while is that many of those moms told me they breastfed, when they actually only breastfed for a short time, or non-exclusively, or did not practice ecological breastfeeding. I caught on when I realized that the moms that told me they breastfed and got their first period back at 4 months were the same moms who told me their babies slept through the night at 8 weeks of age. (Most babies who are breastfed do not–yet another area where I doubted my parenting and then found out we were totally normal!)

Note to self: Scratch those “judgy” moms off my “Who to ask for advice” list. Not to criticize, but the experience is just too, too different, and I spent way too much time feeling like something was wrong, when everything was spot on.

So, last month, I started to see signs of ovulation. My first attempts to conceive and 2 subsequent pregnancies – one successful, one lost – left me much more in tune with my body’s signals, so I thought I sensed a beginning to the return of my cycle. Lo and behold, one day off from the day I predicted, my period returned! :D

I never thought I’d be so happy to hear from that particular visitor! But I felt like it was the end of something, too. The return of my fertility means that my body is ready to support another child, which means my pregnancy is really over. I know, it was over a long time ago, but I don’t really see it that way. I will definitely view my next pregnancy as a 2-year process that will require my body to be physically involved with my baby for the entire time. But that’s OK with me. I’ve loved every demanding, draining, exhausting, totally rewarding second of this one!

The most thrilling part for me is that I might be able to concieve now without having to wean my son! I really thought I may have to, and the thought of taking from one to give to another just didn’t sit well with me, and I was getting quite anxious about it. If I was 25, it might not be such an issue to wait a little longer, but I am most definitely NOT 25. ;)

For those of you out there wondering about your first postpartum period, I can only tell you my experience. We have breastfed totally on demand for 14 months, with the introduction of solids around 6 months. I pump 8 ounces at 5am, another 8 ounces at 2pm, and then he nurses when I get home from work at 6pm and throughout the night. (He has never slept through the night.) I used to pump before bed each night (around 10pm) but I cut that out about a month ago. I do believe that change in our routine may be what brought the Big O back (No, not that Big O, silly. :roll: )

I expected what I used to call “the week of h*ll” to be awful,  but it was quite easy. While many might begin with an anovulatory period, I believe that I did ovulate because I felt some familiar pain. But that was the only pain I had. No cramps, just a little bloating, slight headache and a very light 4-days. Easy peasy.

And so begins my foray into mama cloth! With the love I have for cloth diapering, you didn’t think I was going to return to those nasty plastic feminine hygeine products you buy at the drugstore, did you? No way! If my son is worth cloth, then surely I am too! I used my cute new cupcake-printed liners for a couple days and I give them a definite thumbs up. I can’t imagine going back knowing the toxins involved. As soon as I have enough info compiled to do some complete mama cloth reviews, I’ll be sure to update you!

If we don’t get pregnant first, that is! ;)


15 Comments

Filed under Breastfeeding, Parenting & Family

15 Responses to A Very Happy Post About Menstruation

  1. First off, congratulations! FYI, I think this is the first time I ever congratulated anyone on their period. :)

    Secondly, thank you for sharing this info. I’m pregnant with my first baby and have a regular period my entire life and I never even thought about it not returning after I give birth. This is definitely helpful to keep in mind when planning baby #2…if I can handle baby #1, that is.

  2. Kendra

    Wow! That is a long time to go period free! I wasn’t so lucky. I exclusively breastfed on demand with no supplementing and my daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 11 months old. My period came back 2 months after giving birth. I’m still breastfeeding at almost 14 months and I can’t even imagine being period free for that long. ::sigh::

    • Wow, Kendra! That’s fast! At least according to the averages I’ve heard. I hope it came across in my post that I do understand that some BFing moms really do get their cycle back quickly (but I think it’s uncommon, isn’t it?) My issue was that I was getting bad info and advice from moms who said they BF, but actually did not, and didn’t understand my situation. Congratulations on 14 months! Sounds like we are right in the same boat! Fun age, isn’t it? ;)

      • Kendra

        Sooo fast! I was shocked (and a bit disappointed) when it came so early. Your point came across perfectly. :) Just thought I would share my story because it definitely is uncommon to get your period so quickly when exclusively breastfeeding.

        I absolutely LOVE this age. My daughter has such a great personality and I could just sit and watch her all day! She cracks me up!

    • Thank you Kendra…based on your comment, I went back and corrected a few things. I think the original post was unclear and a bit incomplete…I appreciate your input!

  3. Robin

    YAY! Isn’t it so ironic to be thrilled about your period? “Green” cycle products like mama cloth and the Divacup totally make it all a bit more enjoyable :) Baby dust being sent your way! XOXO

  4. That’s wonderful news! I like learning about motherhood and what to expect from your blog.

    As for environmentally-friendly products, I used a DivaCup and cloth pads for many years, but found that I would get infections from them, even though I followed all cleaning direction. (Probably more from the cup than anything else.) That’s just me…I hate to think of the waste I use each month, so I’m going to look into eco-alternatives again.

  5. Megan

    (This is ‘astarte’s student’, I just haven’t updated my blog in ages so I’m not bothering to post it ;P)

    I got my period back quickly too. I EBF, didn’t start solids till about 6-8 months, DS has never slept through the night, and I’m still nursing while pregnant, but somehow I managed to get my first period back at 3 months. The odd thing was I got it EXACTLY a year to the day after my LMP. No joke! It wasn’t regular right away, but I was always jealous of moms who didn’t get theirs for ages. ;D I didn’t get pregnant right away when we started trying either – go figure. And yeah my periods were different from before pregnancy – much shorter and easier.

    sending you baby dust! :D

    • I’ve heard (maybe from Kellymom?) that if you get it back earlier, it’s more likely to be anovulatory. Get it later, like in my case, and you are more likely to ovulate with the first one. It’s all so interesting, isn’t it? I’m so glad I get to be a woman and experience it all! (Ask me again when I’m irritable or crampy, and I may change my tune…) lol

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. I was sad when mine came back at 10 months even though I was (and still do at 21 months) practice ecological breastfeeding. I do think that first one was anovulatory though as I did not have another for 3 months or so (not quite sure). I wonder too how much genetics plays into it only because my mom’s also resumed at the same time as mine and that was the age I weaned so she was clearly not ecologically breastfeeding.
    I have read of women who did have to stop nursing in order to become pregnant again so I was happy in a way not to have to do that, but still. :(
    I’m glad you were happy about the return of yours though! Yay!

    • Hi Julia,
      I would guess genetics does play a part (?) I am learning that there are many exceptions to the “average.” I was afraid I was going to be one of those women who would have to wean, which I think would be very difficult for me to stick with if my son didn’t decide it on his own. I’m very thankful that my body feels ready to try again! (At least I think that’s what it’s telling me!) One thing I’ve learned about being a woman is that my body usually knows best! :)

      Congrats on 21 months! What a great accomplishment!

  7. Nice sharing. This is great information for everyone who’s a mother or wanting to be. For those watching their signs of ovulation, there are some principles to keep in mind. This is true whether you are wanting to get pregnant now, or awaiting the return of your fertility after childbirth. Make sure your digestive system is healthy, keep your blood sugar stable with good nutrition, and manage the stress levels in your life. Maybe easier said than done with a young child to care for!

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