Menstruation and Breastfeeding – What to Expect From Your Period

Many new mothers have questions about menstruation and breastfeeding. What is “normal?” The answer: Just about anything.

Have
you heard different experiences and stories when it comes to your
friends’ periods? While some women never experience a period while
breastfeeding and consider it their birth control for six months or
longer, other women may experience irregular periods while still others
resume regular periods while their babies are still feeding at least
part-time.

 

Let’s start by saying that it is possible to have your
period while you’re breastfeeding, and many women do have irregular or
light periods throughout their breastfeeding months or years. It all
comes down to a hormone known as prolactin. This is the hormone that
regulates the production of milk while you’re breastfeeding, but it also
naturally suppresses menstruation.

The more prolactin you have in
your body, the less likely you are to have a period. Once your milk is
in less demand and you start to produce less of this hormone, you’re
likely to resume your menstrual cycle.

We gathered this
information based on common questions new moms have regarding
menstruation and breastfeeding to help you explore all possible
scenarios regarding menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.  Like we
said…there is a wide range of “normal!”

 

Your First Period While Breastfeeding – What to Expect

Some
women never have a period while they’re breastfeeding even part-time
while other women experience a light period here and there throughout
their breastfeeding journey. Still other women experience a full return
to normal periods as soon as their babies start sleeping through the
night or their breastfeeding routines change in some other way. You
never know how your body might react or when that first period may
appear, so don’t assume that you can’t have a period just because you’re
breastfeeding.

Remember, this comes down to the presence of
prolactin in your system. When your baby starts sleeping through the
night or even for longer stretches of time, they demand less milk from
your breasts.

If you’re actively pumping, you may keep the demand
high, which is likely to result in continued production of prolactin.
Eventually, you will need to cut back as your baby switches to solid
food and depends on breast milk less, and you will eventually have your
first post-baby period at that time.

For some women, the first
period is light or unusually short. Others may experience heavy periods
right from the start. You may want to talk about this with your doctor
if you’re concerned, but keep in mind that every woman is different and
just about anything is considered normal at this phase in your life.
Even if you get one period and then it seems to disappear for months,
it’s not likely a sign of a larger problem.

 

Irregular Periods While Breastfeeding

While
there are some medical conditions that may cause irregular periods,
it’s common for women to experience irregular menstruation while
breastfeeding or even shortly after weaning their baby from the breast.
It can take up to two years for some women to normalize their menstrual
cycles after having a baby, but it doesn’t take nearly that long for
most women.

Irregular periods are often a result of fluctuating
hormone levels in your body. This can happen if your baby is feeding
less often or at different times or when you have a change in your
schedule. It may also happen for seemingly no reason at all, but there
is no cause for alarm unless you have other symptoms that may hint that
something else is happening. For instance, if you’re experiencing pain
or discomfort in the abdominal or pelvic region or are losing an extreme
amount of weight without explanation. You can always talk to your
doctor if you suspect that your irregular periods are connected to other
medical issues, but also keep in mind that many women are irregular
while breastfeeding.

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