Irregular periods while breastfeeding are quite common. Any stimulation at the breast causes the body to give off hormones that aid in milk production and suppress menstruation. This process is called Lactational Amenorrhea.
Bleeding or Spotting During Breastfeeding
Some bleeding is expected after childbirth, which is sometimes mistaken for a menstrual cycle. If your baby is formula fed, 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 cycles returning. Sometimes the first period after breastfeeding occurs when the baby has been completely weaned.
Irregular periods while breastfeeding are typical, and skipping a month or two is normal. Sometimes there might be menstrual symptoms (cramps or tender breats) without bleeding, which indicates that your menstrual cycle is returning. In this case, it would be a good idea to use precautions if you do not intend to become pregnant soon.
How Do Menstrual Cycles Affect Breastfeeding?
- When menstruation occurs, there could be a slight decrease in milk production and an 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 take a combination of 1500mg calcium and 400mg magnesium. This will keep your milk supply up, regulate your period, help with sore nipples and prevent cramps.
- Evening primrose can help to prevent sore nipples during a period.
- There are instances in which mothers breastfeed with no period occurring for nine months with baby #1, but with a second child, the cycle returns 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 is when the mother allows her baby to breastfeed whenever the baby wants to. (Newborn babies need to be fed at least every two hours)
- Breastfeeding at night is especially important because these long periods without stimulation are when the body will tend to regress to the old cycle.
- Allow for comfort feeding. The extra stimulation will suppress the menstrual cycle.
Things That Cause Your Menstrual Cycle to Return
- Using a bottle, feeding your baby solid food before six months, and giving any liquids other than breast milk will 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.
"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
"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 six pregnancy tests (within three weeks of missing my period) & all were negative.
I think it is due to hormones fluctuating. 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
"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 one year and one month now. Still trying to get her to eat solids, but it's not happening as far as counting it as a meal. 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."
Pregnancy Without the Return of Your Period?
"Can you get pregnant if you're not menstruating during breastfeeding, or is it impossible?"
"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 will 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 breastfeeding a seven-month-old son and haven't had my period for four months.
Could the pregnancy test give me false results, or am I pregnant?"
Re: Pregnancy results
"About 5% of women can become fertile just before their first period. Wait it out for another three weeks and take another test. The results will be more accurate."