The co-founder of Hummingway, actress and entrepreneur Ashley Greene Khoury, sat down for a candid chat with Dr. Jolene Brighten to get the 411 on getting your period post-baby.
Are you a new mom wondering what to expect when it comes to your postpartum periods? Don't worry, you're not alone. New mom, Ashley Greene Khoury, had her own questions about this unique phase of motherhood. That's why she turned to Hummingway’s trusted advisor, Dr. Jolene Brighten: a board-certified naturopathic endocrinologist, clinical sexologist, and renowned expert in women's medicine. Ashley wants to be prepared for her period’s return after giving birth to baby Kingsley.
ASHLEY GREENE KHOURY: When can I expect my period to return after giving birth?
- DR. JOLENE BRIGHTEN: If you’re not breastfeeding, you can expect your period to return within a couple of months. For women who are breastfeeding, your cycle may not return until you night wean, reduce feedings, or wean altogether.
ASHLEY: How can postpartum periods be different from pre-pregnancy periods?
- BRIGHTEN: For some women, the first period is uneventful and they may not even realize their cycle has returned. For others, they may find the heavy periods and pain are a thing of the past. And still, for other women, they may find that their first period is heavy, painful, and made of the stuff we all have come to dread. It’s very individualized. Continuing to take your prenatal along with additional omega-3s (beyond what a prenatal provides) and magnesium may also make for an easier transition back to menstruating following childbirth.
ASHLEY: Are there any specific changes or symptoms I should watch out for during postpartum periods?
- BRIGHTEN: We all hear about postpartum depression and anxiety, but what many women are not told is that these can arise as part of a condition known as postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum thyroid conditions may present with changes in mood, digestion, body temperature, skin and hair. Some women also experience a decline in their breast milk supply. Postpartum thyroiditis typically occurs around 6 months postpartum, which is also when postpartum depression tends to arise. For this reason, it’s important that the thyroid is evaluated, especially if medication is being considered. It’s not often an antidepressant that will bring symptom relief when the thyroid is the issue.
ASHLEY: Can breastfeeding affect the return of my period or the nature of my menstrual cycle?
- BRIGHTEN: When you’re regularly breastfeeding, a hormone known as prolactin is elevated, which is normal. Prolactin can suppress ovulation, which is why women may see a delay in the return of the period for as long as they are breastfeeding. But don’t rely on this for pregnancy prevention, as it seems to only have an effect in the early postpartum months and even then, it’s a gamble. Your period is preceded by ovulation, which means your period only returns once you’ve successfully ovulated. If you’re waiting for your period as a sign of the return of your fertility, you may be too late in preventing pregnancy, if that’s your goal.
ASHLEY: What are some tips for managing postpartum period discomfort or irregularities?
- BRIGHTEN: Because of the night wakings and breastfeeding, your period may be more irregular when it first returns. However, if you had a regular period prior to becoming pregnant, it should return to a predictable cycle. Magnesium glycinate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamine, calcium, and vitamin B6 can help with managing period pain and PMS. While many of these are found in prenatals, you may need more. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are often skewed to provide more DHA with baby in mind. This isn’t the form that will help with menstrual cramps and it isn’t in sufficient amounts of prenatal. I often advise patients to take a separate omega-3 fatty acid supplement that also contains the anti-inflammatory EPA. It’s also really helpful to have a hot water bottle on hand because heat can really help alleviate cramps.
ASHLEY: Can I use a tampon after giving birth?
- BRIGHTEN: After your birth provider has cleared you in your postpartum check, you can resume using a tampon when your period returns. Tampons should be avoided immediately following birth. In the early days, large pads or good old adult diapers can be far more comfortable without putting you at risk for infection. As the flow begins to reduce, opting for period underwear may provide more comfort.
Ashley’s favorite products for her postpartum period:
Proof® Period Underwear: Ashley loves the comfort and convenience of Proof® period underwear. With various options to suit different needs, she finds them to be a reliable alternative to tampons. Plus, they offer the peace of mind and protection she desires.
Belly Bandit Leggings: These leggings were made for motherhood! Ashley swears by Belly Bandit's Mother Tucker® Leggings and plans to keep using them to help with period bloating.
Hummingway Cycle Soother: The Cycle Soother, a non-toxic transdermal patch, is Ashley's go-to for managing postpartum pain and bloating during her periods. This essential addition to her kit provides soothing relief when needed.In partnership with Ashley Greene, Hummingway, Belly Bandit & Proof: Together, we celebrate women's health with an Essential Collaboration.