Many new mothers have questions about menstruation and breastfeeding. What is “normal”? Answer: Almost everything.
Have you heard different experiences and stories from your friends about their periods? Some women do not have periods while breastfeeding and use it as birth control for six months or more, while others have regular periods, while others still have regular periods while breastfeeding part-time.
Menstruation is possible while you’re breastfeeding, and many women experience irregular or light periods throughout the months and years of breastfeeding. It all has to do with a hormone called prolactin. It is a hormone that regulates milk production during breastfeeding but prevents spontaneous menstruation.
The more prolactin in your body, the less likely you are to get your period. Once the demand for milk decreases and this hormone is released in small amounts, your period will likely return.
We’ve compiled this information based on frequently asked menstrual and breastfeeding questions by new moms to help you explore all of your menstrual, pregnancy, and breastfeeding options. Like we said… “normal!”
Your first period while breastfeeding – what to expect
Some women don’t get periods half the time while breastfeeding, while others get a few periods here and there during the breastfeeding journey. Other women still have a full return to normal periods when their baby sleeps through the night or their feeding routine changes in some other way. You never know how your body will react and when your first period will arrive, so don’t assume you won’t get your period just because you’re breastfeeding.
Remember, this is due to the presence of prolactin in your system. When your baby starts sleeping through the night or even longer, you want your breasts to produce less milk.
If you’re actively pumping, you can keep the demand high, which leads to continued production of prolactin. Eventually, you’ll need to taper off as your baby transitions to solids and less breastmilk, and that’s when you’ll have your first postpartum period.
For some women, the first period is unusually light or short. Others may have heavy periods, to begin with. If you’re concerned, you may want to talk to your doctor about this, but remember that every woman is different and almost anything is considered normal at this point in your life. Even if you have one period and then it goes away for a few months, it’s not a sign of a bigger problem.
Menstrual irregularity during breastfeeding
Although some medical conditions can cause irregular periods, it is common for women to experience irregular periods while breastfeeding or after weaning their baby. Some women take up to two years to get back to normal after giving birth, but for most women, it doesn’t take that long.
Irregular periods are usually caused by changes in hormone levels in the body. This can happen if your baby eats less, at different times, or has a schedule change. This can happen for no apparent reason, but unless other symptoms indicate something else is going on, there’s no reason to worry. For example, if you have abdominal or pelvic pain or discomfort, or if you are losing a lot of weight without explanation. You can always talk to your doctor if you suspect that your irregular periods are related to other health issues, but remember that many women experience irregular periods while breastfeeding.