How soon menstruation occurs depends largely on whether a mother is breast or bottle-feeding.
The bottle feeding mother can expect a period as early as one month from delivery or as late as three – possibly four months. Normally, the periods then continue to occur as before. However, it’s important to remember that ovulation normally precedes a period, and in this event fertility has resumed and pregnancy is again possible.
The mother who is totally breast feeding with not more than four hours between feeds is not likely to ovulate and periods may not return for several months, possibly a year or more.
However, any change in the feeding habit, such as baby sleeping longer e.g. through the night, use of a soother (pacifier), introduction of formula feeds or solids, illness of mother or baby may bring about a change and push towards returning ovulation.
The signs of ovulation are: a reduction in milk supply, baby fretfulness; breast milk becomes slightly more salty at ovulation time and dissatisfies baby.
This can alert the mother to look for more accurate signs of the return of fertility.
For Example: A change in the vaginal area suggests ovarian activity and returning fertility; (1) a return of mucous following a period of dryness or (2) any change in the type of mucous already present since the normal post natal bleeding (lochia) ceased. Some women may also experience slight abdominal pain, backache or / and spotting/bleeding at ovulation time. The arrival of a period 2- 3 weeks later confirms fertility.