Oh, the joy and pain of your period after pregnancy.
Just kidding! There’s not much joy, is there? But it’s a whole world of pain, PMT and all the mood swings. Apologies again, everyone around me.
Sound the Code Red, like the long list of weird things that happen to your body after pregnancy that no-one tells you about – from the night sweats that glue you to your sheets to the hormonal blues that leave you glummer than when your lovely thick pregnancy mane falls out – how your post-baby period can change is a surprise in itself.
Literally – it’s a surprise every month when old Aunt Flo makes an appearance, isn’t it? You’d think after all these years I’d learn. And yes, I do use a period tracker, but still…
And initially she / it always seems to turn up when you’re least expecting it after having a baby. Either really early, when you’re in midst of the postpartum throes for some poor mums, or later on when you’re in sleep-deprivation hell. And it’s usually at the least convenient time to have a surprise visit from the painters and decorators. Doesn’t it take long enough to leave the house with small children without an emergency shop dash for tampons, wine and cake? Waaa.
(More period euphemisms here).
I didn’t get mine back for two years after having each baby, mainly due to this. Which is ages; long enough for all the post-baby hormones to have settled down, meaning I was on a really even keel. Until I got my period back and was spun into a hormonal hurricane of mood swings and bodily confusing stuff every month.
I know this doesn’t affect everyone, but in a scientific poll of women – aka I mentioned my horrendous PMT this week on Instagram – so many people replied saying OMG ME TOO.
But no-one ever really talks about it, do they?
With this in mind, here are the things no-one tell you about your period after pregnancy:
It’s a mix of complicated emotions: Like a lot of people I spent a lot of my 20s hoping my period would turn up, then a lot of my 30s desperately hoping it wouldn’t. When trying and failing to get pregnant my period was such an unwelcome hammer blow to the gut of my own personal non-pregnant failure, and that kind of lingers. Now it’s like a bittersweet reminder, in a way, that there’s no more babies.
Oh, the broodiness…I also get super, mega broody around ovulation which I know is the whole point of biology and all, but it’s confusing when with your practical head on you’ve decided that that’s it, no more babies, you’re done and it’s lovely to have some life back but oh wait! Tiny babygros are so cute! Couldn’t we just have one more…?! Etc etc.
The pain: Oh man, it hurts so much more now. It’s almost a cruel trick – people told me labour was like period pains and it WASN’T, now period pains can be a lot like labour pains. Pass the max strength painkillers. And then you have the boob pain, bloating and lots of random side effects like feeling sick that I’m sure didn’t happen before. And feeling wiped out and wrung up and spun out. And all the rest.
The blood: Talk about surfing the crimson wave (thanks, Clueless!) I reviewed the Lily Cup One Menstrual cup a while ago, and I’ve found that that once you get used to it, then it’s great.
But when it comes to your period after pregnancy, the big change is mainly:
The MOOD SWINGS: PMT after having a baby – and all the hormonal emotions of before and during your period – seems about 100 times worse. At least.
I’m not sure if it’s tiredness and sleep deprivation and all the constraints and responsibilities combined with all the everyday annoyances of parenting and LIFE, but I spend at least a couple of days every month feeling like I’m in an emotional wringer, swinging between hating everything and everyone, including myself, or in a echo-y chamber of annoyance and rage, or bursting into tears at even the slightest thing. Or all of the above.
And then I realise why!
I’m sure there must be something that makes it better, although I can’t take most hormonal contraception. Does anyone have any magic solutions? I’m sure if this happened to men there would be.
I was prompted to write this post after reading this from the Girl Guides about ending period poverty, which they start off by saying ‘Let’s talk about periods!’
So here’s me talking about it. And here’s a virtual hug to everyone having their time of the month and you’re welcome at any time of the month to join me in my corner with all my emotions, and some cake.
P.S. I know I write this post about your period after pregnancy from a privileged and comfortable period place and that’s not where lots of women and girls in the UK are.
So here’s a link to Bloody Good Period, a charity that campaigns to supply period supplies to asylum seekers, refugees and people living in poverty.
And here’s the Red Box Project, a community-driven initiative which supplies period products to local schools.
You can also donate tampons and pads to your local food bank.