Something that has come up A LOT in my office, is how much worse your post baby periods can be. I am not just talking about the first few cycles after you have a baby, but the changes in your periods that last for years! Whenever I come across something that I am seeing in a lot of patients, that is not talked about very much, I make it my mission to get the bottom of it. Today I am going to go over what causes your period to get worse after having a baby and share a few things that you can do to help get things back to being more manageable.
For starters, what is a normal period? Many of us have no idea that what we think is just “a little off” could actually be the sign of an underlying medical concern. While pain, heavy bleeding, terrible mood swings, headaches, bloating, cravings and breast tenderness are common, they are not NORMAL.
What is a Normal Period?
1) Cycle is between 28-30 days
2) Starts with bright red blood, no spotting
3) Bleeding lasts for 4-5 days
4) The first 1-2 days are heavier, but you should not be having to change a pad/tampon/menstrual cup any more frequently than every 3-4 hours
5) Mild cramping on the first day (the kind that does not disrupt your life or require medications)
6) Normal amount of blood lost is 80 ml. To visualize this; 80 ml is approximately 16 fully soaked regular tampons or 8 fully soaked super tampons
7) Minimal PMS symptoms
Why has your period gone haywire since you had a baby? There are many answers to this question, but I am going to start with the most obvious one first. Many of you would have been on the birth control pill for years before having a baby, came off the pill, and became pregnant fairly quickly. It is not fair to compare your post-baby periods to the ones you had while you were on the birth control pill, because those are not real periods. To expand on this, if you went on the pill to help manage symptoms for example heavy periods, acne, painful periods, those symptoms are still going to be there, and will likely be worse once now that you have stopped taking birth control.
Reasons Why Your Period is worse after having a Baby
- The surface area of your uterus has expanded, meaning there is more lining to be shed.
- High estrogen, relative to progesterone. When you are pregnant, the body makes 100X more estrogen on any given day then when you are not pregnant.
- You may not be ovulating. If you are not ovulating, you are not making adequate levels of progesterone.
- Your thyroid is not functioning properly. Hypothyroidism increases estrogen levels and reduces the amount of estrogen that can be detoxified by your liver.
Now that we know why your period is worse, we need to figure out how to get it back on track. This is where a Naturopathic Doctor can help by diagnosing why your periods are worse and implementing a treatment plan to address the cause of the problems. If you have heavy periods for quite a while it can easily lead to low iron, or anemia, which will leave you feeling like you have no energy.
8 Ways to Improve Your Periods Post Baby
- Basal Body Temperature- Take your temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed and record. This will help to determine if you are ovulating, and can give a sneak peak at your thyroid function.
- Reduce/Eliminate Dairy- Dairy naturally contains growth factors such as insulin life growth factor that can contribute to increased pain and bleeding.
- Anti-inflammatory Foods- Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can help reduce both pain and bleeding. Ginger and turmeric in tea and raw herb form are great options.
- Reduce Stress- Easier said than done I know, but stress reduces thyroid function and literally steals your progesterone. Aim for 10-15 minutes per day of deep breathing or engaging in an activity that is just for you.
- Regulate Insulin- The best ways to do this is by reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake, eating at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast, doing weight bearing exercise and supplementing with magnesium.
Eliminate Excess Estrogen- Reduce exposure to exogenous estrogens by:
- Using toxin free skincare and cleaning products
- Not drinking out of or heating food up in plastic containers
- Avoiding conventional dry cleaning
- Eating foods that help clear estrogen: leafy greens, apples, berries, flaxseed and lemon
- Support Progesterone Levels- Reducing your stress levels helps to support progesterone, as does supplementing with Magnesium and Vitamin B6
- Acupuncture- Can help stimulate your body to ovulate, increase progesterone levels and reduce PMS symptoms. I do acupuncture for these reasons every day in my practice.
These suggestions provide a great starting place for getting your periods back on track. Post baby periods can be frustrating when many moms are already not feeling their best. This is a great reason to go see your Naturopathic Doctor and get thyroid blood work done, have your symptoms assessed and get started on an individualized treatment plan to address the reasons why your period has gone haywire!
I hope you learned a lot from this post and have some tools to implement to help get your periods back on track
As always, if you have any questions, please post them in the comment section below
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Dr Alexis practices via telemedicine and is currently accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.