You’re worn out after childbirth. The frequent feedings, few hours of sleep, and fluctuating hormones all leave you so exhausted that you don’t know if you’re coming or going. And when you discover you have to deal with postpartum bleeding, you want to cringe. It makes you long for a menstrual cup…
But can you use a menstrual cup postpartum? And if so, when?
Both are natural questions, whether you’re a wannabe menstrual cup user, a first-timer, or a master who already knows how to use a menstrual cup. We’d love to give you a quick answer, but you’re going to need a lot more information than a simple yes.
Read on to discover:
- When you can use a menstrual cup after pregnancy?
- Can you use a menstrual cup for postpartum bleeding?
- When your menstrual cycle will return?
- Will you need a bigger menstrual cup after pregnancy?
- What really changes in your body after childbirth?
- What are some tips for using a menstrual cup postpartum?
- What’s the best menstrual cup postpartum?
Are you dreaming of a zero-waste and fuss-free period after pregnancy? It’s possible with a Ruby Cup. For every Ruby Cup purchased, we donate another one to a person without access to safe menstrual products.
Get your Ruby Cup now.
When can you start using a menstrual cup after pregnancy?
You can start using a menstrual cup postpartum from 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. But we recommend asking your healthcare provider to confirm if you’re ready first.
You may wonder why you can’t use a period cup earlier. Even though there aren’t a lot of studies being done on menstrual cup safety postpartum, we know you risk infection if you insert anything into your vagina too soon after childbirth. Here’s why:
- Your body takes time to heal. Whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C-section, it can take 6-8 weeks for your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy shape and heal the wound where your placenta was once attached.
- With a vaginal birth, your cervix is still open. A menstrual cup, tampon, penis, or sex toy could all deliver bacteria to your vaginal canal and your cervix. These bacteria can travel up into your uterus, creating an infection.
- Even with a c-section, there’s still a risk of infection. Inserting a menstrual cup too soon after major surgery on your belly and pelvic area could be painful or potentially hurt healing tissues or wounds.
Now you can understand why it’s best to wait 8 weeks after pregnancy to use a menstrual cup and get your doctor’s approval before you start.
If you’ve had a miscarriage or abortion and want to know when you can start using a menstrual cup, we suggest asking your healthcare provider to guide you as every case will be unique.
Can you use a menstrual cup for postpartum bleeding?
No. Using a menstrual cup or a tampon for postpartum bleeding can increase your risk of infection.
Postpartum bleeding, also known as lochia, is not the same as menstrual blood. Lochia is your uterus’ way of shedding everything it once needed to nurture the fetus, like:
- Red and white blood cells
- Uterine lining
- Amniotic fluid
- Tissue from the placenta
Lochia is usually heaviest during the first few days after birth, then tapers off after 3 to 4 weeks. You’ll lose lochia, which can sometimes leave the body in clots, whether you’ve had a C-section or vaginal birth.
It may seem natural to use a menstrual cup, especially if you have a lot of postpartum bleeding. But don’t. If your bleeding is unusually heavy, consult your healthcare provider right away to understand if the flow is normal.
After giving birth, your doctor will recommend using menstrual pads to manage postpartum bleeding. Even reusable cloth pads can be a great option. Just have enough on hand for frequent changes so you can avoid constantly washing them—you have enough to do caring for your newborn.
You can use a menstrual cup when your uterus contracts to pre-pregnancy size, your internal wound heals, and your menstrual flow returns.
When does your period come back, anyway?
There’s no standard time frame to know when your period will come back. Instead, your menstrual cycle’s return depends on various factors. Starting birth control after delivery, like having an IUD inserted postpartum, can impact the return of your menstrual cycle. Another factor is if and how much you’re breastfeeding:
- Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months. When you're breastfeeding without supplemental foods, you’re not stimulating ovulation. Since you’re not developing the lining that sheds during menstruation, you won’t have your period.
- Breastfeeding with supplemental food. When you switch to supplemental food with breastfeeding, then ovulation and menstruation will return, but the timing varies from person to person.
- Not breastfeeding at all. If you’re not breastfeeding, your period may return around 6 weeks after childbirth. However, everyone is different and when a menstrual cycle resumes will vary from person to person.
Even though you’re not menstruating, you can still get pregnant. If you want to avoid pregnancy for a while, speak to your health care provider to discover which birth control method is right for you. Usually, condoms, an IUD, or a progesterone-only pill are options that won't impact your breastmilk supply but protect against unplanned pregnancy.
Finally, don’t get your expectations up based on other peoples’ stories of when their periods have returned. Everyone is unique. Be patient, get regular medical check-ups, and enjoy this period-free time with your baby. Your menstrual cycle will return when your body is ready.
Do you need a bigger menstrual cup postpartum?
No, not necessarily. Don’t automatically assume you’ll need a larger size cup after pregnancy and childbirth. For most people, the vaginal canal doesn’t change much during delivery (and we’ve already debunked the myth that you can stretch out your vagina in a previous post).
If it’s your first time using a cup, consult our sizing guide to find the right cup for you. Or, if you’re a veteran menstrual cup user, try your pre-pregnancy menstrual cup before buying a larger cup. You may find it still fits perfectly and is just as comfortable as ever.
But what happens if your old cup just doesn’t feel the same? If your vagina doesn’t change, what has?
Sometimes, it’s a question of habit. The first time you used your menstrual cup, it probably felt too big because you were nervous and unconsciously tensing your pelvic floor muscles. Then, over time, you become more comfortable inserting your menstrual cup and how it feels in your vagina. Now that you’ve come back to using your cup after a year or more, it’s normal that it might feel a bit strange or too big at first.
There are also physiological changes taking place...
What really changes after childbirth?
Even though your vagina doesn’t get stretched out by childbirth, there are other reasons why you might want to try a new menstrual cup size postpartum:
- Vaginal sensation: After a vaginal birth, some of your vaginal nerve endings may have changed, which will alter your sensations and increase your sensitivity. But it won’t change your vagina’s shape or size. This may be why you feel discomfort in inserting your period cup.
- Pelvic floor: Your pelvic floor muscles may still be recovering from childbirth. Some people have problems with their menstrual cups sliding down or falling out postpartum. Know that this is not a permanent problem and can be fixed with some pelvic floor physical therapy, Kegel exercises, or a different sized menstrual cup.
- Menstrual flow: You may also notice a change in your menstrual flow postpartum. Breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, resuming hormonal birth control—these can all change your flow. If you find your postpartum period flow is heavier than your pre-pregnancy periods, try our Ruby Cup Medium. Its higher fluid capacity makes it one of the best menstrual cups for heavy flow.
- Cervix: After a vaginal delivery, your cervix can change. Your cervix thins and widens during childbirth to allow the baby to pass through. Rarely, people’s cervixes become more sensitive after childbirth. You may need to try a smaller menstrual cup postpartum if you think your favorite pre-pregnancy menstrual cup is not playing nicely with your postpartum cervix.
After childbirth, your cervix will contract and thicken again, but it can also change shape. If it lengthens and draws closer to your vaginal opening, you’ll have a low cervix. Or it can shorten, drawing away from your vaginal opening to become a high cervix. To check your cervix height, use our measuring guide to find out if you’ll need Ruby Cup Medium, great for a high cervix. Or the Ruby Cup Small, one of the best menstrual cups for a low cervix.
Tips for using a menstrual cup postpartum
You might find that returning to a menstrual cup postpartum is like getting back on a bicycle again. You may be wobbly the first time, uncertain, even scared. After all, your vagina has been through a lot. But when you’re fully prepped with these helpful tips, you’ll be the menstrual cup pro you once were.
Here are our tips for getting back into the groove of menstrual cup use after a long period-free break.
- Take it slow. Who said to rush? A little patience is all you need to get back using your cup again. Drink a calming herbal tea, meditate, or take a nap first. Take a deep breath and keep in mind that you might need to try a few times to get it right. Then grab your cup and go for it.
- Switch it up and start small. Try a reusable panty one day, reusable pads another day, then your cup during the last days of your period. You don’t have to go all in. Eventually, you’ll get back to using your cup for your entire period, even for nighttime flows.
- Listen to your body. If your vaginal sensitivity is so great that you can’t use a menstrual cup for your first postpartum period, no worries. Use period panties or cloth pads for your first period, then try your menstrual cup the next time.
- Pretend you’re a beginner again. Sometimes frustration can get the better of all of us. So if you find it difficult to insert your menstrual cup, go back to the beginning. Did you use to sit on the toilet for menstrual cup insertion in your pre-pregnancy days? Try squatting, hoisting up one leg, or inserting your cup while you’re under the shower. You can also change your cup fold. What worked before may not work now. Be curious and discover what works today.
- Get slick with lube. Whether you're a beginner or a returning menstrual cup user, try using a water-based lubricant on the rim of your menstrual cup to make insertion easier.
- Break open the champagne. Celebrate every milestone, which includes your first postpartum period. Pour yourself a glass of wine, order your favorite food, and play your best tunes. Party because your body is doing its best. All your festivities will chill you out enough to remember how easy it was to use your favorite menstrual cup for a worry-free period.
What’s the best postpartum menstrual cup if you’ve never used one before?
If you’re a beginner cup user, we recommend Ruby Cup for postpartum cup newcomers. Here’s why Ruby Cup is the best menstrual cup for beginners:
- Greater comfort. Ruby Cup’s soft ribbed silicone and medium firmness make it easy to handle and beginner-friendly.
- Buy One Give One model. For each Ruby Cup you buy, we give another cup to someone who struggles to afford period products. Your contribution also provides educational support and menstrual health workshops to people without access to menstrual products across the globe.
- Different sizes. Ruby Cup comes in two sizes, Small and Medium. If you have a flow that varies, you can buy our Duo Pack to receive both at a discounted price.
- Staver pack. Our Saver Pack is great for beginners because it includes everything you need while saving you nearly 20%. You’ll get both size Ruby Cups, two storage pouches, a user guide, plus the Ruby Sterilizer, an easy and quick way to disinfect your cup between periods.
- Body friendly. Made with 100% medical-grade silicone, Ruby Cup is plastic, dioxin, and bleach-free.
- Eco-friendly. One Ruby Cup is 100% vegan and can last you up to 10 years. Use it again and again for a zero-waste period.
- Customer service. We know there’s a learning curve involved with using a menstrual cup for the first time, which is why you can contact us for support whenever you need it.
- Money-back guarantee. You’ll have 120 days to try out a Ruby Cup. Whether you need a different size or you find it’s just not working for you, exchange or return it, no questions asked.
Use a menstrual cup after pregnancy when your body is ready
It’s important to care for your body and all of its changes after pregnancy so you can be your best for your baby. Now you know how to listen to your beautiful life-creating body and be ready for your first post-pregnancy period.
Here’s a quick summary to help you remember the key facts and our top tips for using a menstrual cup postpartum:
Are you dreaming of a zero-waste and fuss-free period after pregnancy? It’s possible with a Ruby Cup. For every Ruby Cup purchased, we donate another one to a person without access to safe menstrual products. Get your Ruby Cup now.
Which menstrual cup is best after childbirth?
Ruby Cup is a great menstrual cup to use after giving birth. Its soft medical-grade silicone and medium firmness make it the ideal choice when your menstrual cycle returns. However, before using a menstrual cup, wait 6-8 weeks after giving birth and ask your healthcare provider if it’s the right time for you to start.
How long should you wait before starting to use a menstrual cup after giving birth?
Wait up to 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth, but ask your healthcare provider about it during your 6-week postnatal checkup to know if your body is ready. Once you get the doctor’s go-ahead, you can start using a menstrual cup.
What should you do if your menstrual cup falls out postpartum?
If your menstrual cup keeps sliding down or falling out, you may be using your menstrual cup too soon after delivery. This may be because of a weakened pelvic floor. Always wait 6-8 weeks after delivery and speak to your healthcare provider before using your cup. Also, ask your doctor whether pelvic floor physical therapy could help you.
Do I need a bigger menstrual cup after having a baby?
No, this is a myth. Your vagina doesn't get permanently stretched out from giving birth. Wait 6-8 weeks and talk to your healthcare provider before using a menstrual cup. Then, try the cup you used before your pregnancy. But be prepared: after pregnancy, you might have a heavier flow and your cervix length may have changed.
Can I use a menstrual cup after a C-section?
Whether you've had a C-section or vaginal birth, you need to wait at least 6 to 8 weeks after childbirth before using a menstrual cup. To be sure, always check with your healthcare provider first.