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Ask an Expert: The Return of Your Period

By Robin Kaplan, IBCLC

Fan Question;

“Is it normal to start your period 4.5 months into breastfeeding my twins? Does it mean my milk will dry up? Any ideas.”

This is such a great question! Getting your period while breastfeeding is very normal.  Breastfeeding moms will often see a return to their menstrual cycles when their babies start to eat less frequently in the middle of the night, take a pacifier, receive supplementation other than mom’s milk, and/or start solids.  Other moms might breastfeed throughout the night and day and never offer pacifiers or bottles, yet still see a return of their menstrual cycles.  Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason to it.  Either way, the return of your fertility is back!

What can you expect when your menstrual cycle returns?

Some moms find that they experience nipple tenderness, moodiness, and a slight temporary dip in their milk supplies.  The flavor of your breast milk might also vary a tad during the time between ovulation and bleeding.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you can potentially be fertile again.  Yikes!  Plus, your cycle might not be regular for several months, so it is often difficult to calculate when you actually ovulate.  If you are planning to wait a bit before having another bundle of joy, now would be the time to consider other methods of contraception.  Stay away from any birth control that includes estrogen, as the increase in this hormone can permanently decrease your milk supply.  For more information about contraception while breastfeeding, check out Kellymom’s article: Birth Control and Breastfeeding.

Will your milk supply dry up with the return of your period?

It shouldn’t.  While most women experience a dip in their milk supplies between ovulation and bleeding, this tends to be temporary.  Some babies get a little frustrated during this dip, so here are a few tricks to try to keep up your milk supply during this time.

  1. Breastfeed often.  If you are back at work, keep up your pumping schedule.  This is not a time to slow down on the breast stimulation.
  2. If your baby is still waking in the middle of the night, breastfeed him/her.  This extra stimulation will help keep up your milk supply.  Plus, sleepy babies tend to be more patient with a decreased milk flow in the middle of the night.
  3. Consider taking a calcium/magnesium supplement (500-1000mg per day) from the beginning of ovulation until the 2nd or 3rd day of your period to minimize a dip in your supply. (Per The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding)
    1. Increase your iron during your period with iron-rich foods (like meat, green leafy vegetables, and beans) or take an iron supplement.
    2. Consider acupuncture, which can help stabilize hormonal shifts and keep your blood moving.  Breastmilk is made from blood, so the better your blood volume is, the better your milk supply will be.
    3. Consider taking a few milk-increasing herbs, such a moringa, fenugreek, and blessed thistle.  These herbs can help stabilize your milk supply, as well as increase it.

You should be so proud of yourself for breastfeeding your twins!  That is no small feat!  I hope this will only be a quick, temporary ‘speed-bump’ along your breastfeeding journey!

 

(***Disclaimer: Always speak with a health care provider before taking supplements and/or herbs)

 

unnamedRobin Kaplan is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, frequent media commentator on the topic of breastfeeding, and host of The Boob Group, a weekly podcast about breastfeeding.

Robin is also an active advocate for mothers and their legal right to breastfeed. She is a prolific writer and presenter on breastfeeding topics. She was the founding co-editor of the International Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA) blog, Lactation Matters, and curates The Sanity Spot, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center’s popular blog.  Robin is also the founder of the San Diego Nursing in Public Task Force and a newly appointed Take Action Ambassador for Best for Babes.

Robin lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Jason, their two sons, Benjamin and Ryan, and their dog, Tilly. She loves traveling, hiking, going to the beach, social media, and perusing cookbooks for hours upon end.

This information was first featured on Robin’s blog: Breastfeeding During Your Period: When Aunt Flow comes to visit.

Comments

  1. My daughter is 9 months old, she has about 4-5 milk feeds a day still and is eating solids really well too. My question is my period has not returned yet but I’ve been cramping for going on 3 months now, is that normal?

    • I’m in the same boat. I spotted for two days 3 months ago and been cramping in what seems like an ovulation and premenstrual cycle (cramps for a few days every two weeks.) My son will be 1 on November 12th. I know some women go for 2 years while BFing without a cycle, but having to deal with all the other symptoms and then to have Aunt Flow MIA is messing with my head. I think it’s our hormone levels gearing up, but they just aren’t quite strong enough to initiate menstruation.

  2. I ebf my 14 month old son until I went back to work in November. We continue to nurse on demand when we’re together and cosleep so he can nurse at night (and he does, all night lol). January 9th was the first day of my first menstrual period since giving birth and I’m concerned because I have been bleeding or spotting almost everyday since. I asked my NP and she said that it can be normal for the uterine lining to take a long time to shed since it’s had many months to build up. And that if it’s dark “old” blood it’s fine. But as I tried to explain to her sometimes it’s dark, sometimes bright red. Should I be concerned? Or is there a point when I should be concerned?

  3. Heather Kokinchak says

    When should a breastfeeding mother be worried about not getting her period? My son is 13 months still nursing when we are together on demand, I pump at work on schedule yet I still have had no cramping or any signs of my period. I am on the mini pill as well. I have taken several pregnancy tests over the last few months all showing negative and no weight gain. Is it possible to go longer then a year + before seeing a return?

    • My son is almost 14 months and I don’t have my period back either, he nurses a lot day and night. From what I have read it is totally normal.

    • Erica smith says

      I’m at 20 months and still no return of my period. I would like to get pregnant again, but I’m not really willing to sabotage my nursing in order to achieve it. I’m just hoping my period does come back since I’m 37 and not getting any younger!

  4. My period returned with every of my 4 breastfed children after 22-26 months !! I bf on demand, day and night, coslept etc, so there was hardly no break of milk-flow at all ;-).

  5. I have a question indirectly related to this
    I had my cycle return at 10 months post pardum with the Paraguard IUD. It has been fairly regular with the exception of my first one, 34 days and 8 days bleeding. It is now 15 months pp and my cycle is 9 days late and negative tests. I removed the IUD myself to prevent a miscarriage. I had cervix cramping from messing w it but nothing else. Has anyone had this happen and not show positive when you did for your previous pregnancies? My son is not nursing more frequently and I am having heaviness right above my pubic bone, fatigue, a tiny bit of morning sickness, and no spotting or cramping since I removed the IUD.

  6. What are the effects on body of not having periods while breastfeeding?

  7. Hi. When my son was 3 months I got my first period. The next 2 months just brown spotting Irregular. So worried!

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