Irregular Periods & Breastfeeding

baby and mommy, periods while breastfeeding

Experiencing irregular periods while breastfeeding is quite common.

The stimulation of a baby at the breast, causes the body to give off hormones that aid in milk production and suppress menstruation.

Lactation suppresses the menstrual cycle, this process is called Lactational Amenorrhea.


Bleeding or Spotting during Breastfeeding

It is very common to experience a bit of bleeding after the birth of a baby, which is sometimes mistaken for a menstrual cycle. If your baby is fed formula, then your menstrual cycle should return during the first month or two after birth.

There are cases, in which breastfeeding mothers have gone up to a year or two without their cycle returning. Sometimes their first period after breastfeeding occurs when the baby has been completely weaned.

Irregular periods while breastfeeding, are normal while the mother is breastfeeding; skipping a month or two is normal. Sometimes there might be menstrual symptoms without bleeding, which is an indication that your menstrual cycle is returning and it would be a good idea to use precautions if you are not intending on falling pregnant soon.


How do Menstrual Cycles affect Breastfeeding?

  • When menstruation occurs, there could be a slight decrease in milk production and increase in nipple tenderness just before a menstrual cycle starts, which is due to a fluctuation in hormones.
  • The baby might drink more or less during these times because the mother’s milk might taste a little different.
  • The mother might experience unusual uterine cramps during her period.


Fertility during Breastfeeding

It is quite possible to fall pregnant if you are breastfeeding. There have been rare cases, in which some mothers have become pregnant before their period has returned.

If you are experiencing severe menstrual symptoms, here are a few suggestions:

You could use a combination of 1500mg calcium and 400mg magnesium, taken together. This will keep your milk supply up, regulate your period, help for sore nipples and prevent cramps.

Evening primrose can help to prevent sore nipples during a period.  

There are instances in which a mother was breastfeeding, with no period occurring for nine months with her first baby, but with her next baby, her cycle returned after only 11 weeks. 


Ways to Delay a Period while Breastfeeding

  • Regular breastfeeding, at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night.
  • Breastfeeding on demand, this is when the other allows her baby to breastfeed, whenever he/she wants to. (Newborn babies, need to be fed at least every two hours)
  • Breastfeeding at night is especially important, because these long periods of time without stimulation, is when the body will tend to regress back to the old cycle.
  • Allow for comfort feeding, the extra stimulation will suppress the menstrual cycle as well.


Things that Cause your Menstrual Cycle to Return

  • Using a bottle, and feeding your baby solid food before six months. If your baby is drinking other fluids, this will also cause your cycle to return earlier.
  • If your baby is using a pacifier instead of comfort feeding.
  • If mum and baby sleep through at night without nursing.
  • And if the mother starts using certain medications or the pill.

Learn more about fertility while breastfeeding.

Learn more about natural family planning.

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I have been breastfeeding but missed a period.
Could I be pregnant?

Irregular Periods

by Adrianna

"I understand it is common to have irregular periods while breastfeeding, but I'd like to know if what I'm going through is similar to anyone else.

I started to bleed or spot; I don't know what it was, at 6 Months. I have been exclusively breastfeeding for a year now.

After that it was no period that month, then spotting the next, no period, then actually a period, then another period (which was ridiculously heavy like never before), and then a tiny trace of blood the next time (which was my last).

Has anyone else gone through this? Thank you."

Re:Me too

by: Anonymous

"I am going through the same thing. I thought I was pregnant but it does not seem to be the case since I have taken 6 pregnancy tests (within 3 weeks of missing my period) & all negative.

I think it is due to hormones fluctuating. Like for instance my son was sleeping through the night for a few months and that's when my period returned & then he started waking 2-3 times a night to feed & that's when I missed my period.

If you change even a little in the number of feedings, I am sure it has an effect!"

Re: Thank you for responding

by: Adrianna

"Thank you for sharing that with me. I was freaking out that I might have gotten pregnant. But nope, still irregular periods.

I agree with you about the slightest amount of feeding changes. My daughter is starting to sleep a little longer at night between waking up for feedings. She's 1 year and 1 month now. Still trying to get her to eat solids but it's not happening as far as counting it is as a meal. Just eating small things I eat all day. The only consistent thing I try to give her is oatmeal in the morning. But because of all that and her relying on breast milk mainly it's probably making my hormones go up and down."


Am I Pregnant?

"I've been breastfeeding my baby for five months and now my baby eats other foods too. Just last month I had my first period since giving birth and this month I didn't see my period. Is it normal, or I'm I pregnant?"

Re: Skipping Periods

by: Tracy

"It is very normal to have irregular periods while breastfeeding. You are most likely not pregnant unless you have not been using protection. You can become fertile, even before your first period arrives.

Skipping periods while breastfeeding is very normal though."


Pregnancy Without the Return of Your Period?

by Karen

"Can you get pregnant if you're not menstruating during breastfeeding or is it impossible?"

Period

by: Tracy

"Hi, Karen. No, it is not impossible - your fertility can return before you get your first period. Every woman is different where this is concerned.

The longer you breastfeed the more likely you are to ovulate (become fertile) before your first period arrives."


Pregnancy Symptoms While Breastfeeding

"Hi, I'm also having pregnancy symptoms, and I did a pregnancy test last weekend, and it tested negative, but I've still got all the pregnancy symptoms.

I'm still breastfeeding a seven-month-old son and haven't had my period for 4 months.

Could it be that the pregnancy test is giving me false results or am I pregnant?"

Re: Pregnancy results

by: Tracy

"About 5% of women can become fertile just before the start of their first period. Wait it out another three weeks and take another test, the results will be more accurate."

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