Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods 37


breastfeeding period, period while breastfeedingWith my first two children, despite breastfeeding exclusively and co-sleeping, my menstrual cycle returned about a month after delivery and remained on a normal cycle thereafter. So, when after my third child my period resumed and then suddenly stopped, I was admittedly a bit scared I was pregnant again despite always using protection. Upon attempting to research why exactly this would happen, all that could be found were forums, lots and lots of forums, that required a lot of reading to find even half answers. I decided to combine this info with some information from my mid-wife to provide answers for others who experience an irregular period while breastfeeding.

When should your period while breastfeeding resume, if at all?

When menstruation returns depends largely on how often you breastfeed and your personal hormone balance. According to the lactation experts at the La Leche League, on average those who exclusively breastfeed, including at night and delay the introduction of solid foods, do not have a period while breastfeeding for 14.6 months. About seven percent of women experience a period within the first six months postpartum, 37 percent within seven months to a year, 48 percent during the second year of their child’s life, and a mere eight percent exceed year two, likely from the introduction of solid foods. These percentages are not accurate for those who supplement with formula or introduce solid foods within the first year. Menstruation is also more likely to return in mothers whose infants sleep longer at night. The rule is, the more a baby nurses, the higher the chance there will be no period while breastfeeding.

Are irregular periods normal while breastfeeding? Can menstruation stop as a result of breastfeeding?

Yes. You may experience irregular periods or spotting as a result of variances in the hormones released while breastfeeding. This could be a result of a decrease in nursing from say, a sickness in your baby, teething, getting a sitter, or just changes in appetite. This is why some women may have a first period after delivery, and maybe even begin having a normal period while breastfeeding, and then stop as an increase in nursing can cause menstruation to stop. Your own hormonal balance prior to breastfeeding may also affect how your cycle functions while nursing. This explains why in two previous pregnancies I had experienced a period while breastfeeding, but not with the third, my third baby was a piglet–always nursing. Unfortunately, thanks to the volatile nature of hormones while nursing, there is no “normal” menstrual cycle while breastfeeding, but that also means there is no abnormal.

Can you get pregnant while breasting?

Finally, with all those missed or irregular periods, how are you supposed to know if you are pregnant? Can you get pregnant at all? Yep. It’s a pretty huge misconception that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding. In most women fertility is decreased while breastfeeding, but not non-existent. You can be on the look-out for other pregnancy symptoms if you experience no periods at all, especially when protective measures may have failed, or if you want to be extra cautious take a pregnancy test every month.

You may also enjoy:

Menstrual Blood Colors and Textures: What Do They Mean

3 Ways You Can Be Pregnant and Still Have a Period

How Common Are False Pregnancy Tests?

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37 thoughts on “Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods

  • Shawna

    Hi, I breastfed my 16 month old daughter until the 11th of this month. My periods have been regular and shown up on the day expected for the last few months. This month I was suppose to start in the 21st but still nothing. Could this be hormone related to stopping breastfeeding? Or a pregnancy?

    • unwirklich admin

      If they were regular before, I would personally take a pregnancy test yes. Stopping/starting can cause some irregularity, but better safe than sorry.

  • Jen

    Hi. I have a quick question. I just stopped breastfeeding my 19month old. I started getting periods around 10 months . But as soon as I stopped this month. 10 days after my regular period, I started spotting? Is that normal?! I heard something about hormones?! Thanks in advance

    • unwirklich admin

      Stopping breastfeeding could cause that yes, just because there’d be a bit of hormonal flux. Your cycle will probably be back to normal next month.

  • Cess

    Hi, Iv been breast feeding my son for 14months now and had 3 regular periods though I missed last months period. Been getting hungry during the night and been feeling dizziness sometimes could I be pregnant or can my periods be still irregular? Or am I pregnant ?

    • unwirklich admin

      Unfortunately, the only way to tell one from the other would be to take a quick test. It’s common to have irregular periods while breastfeeding, but it’s also possible to become pregnant while breastfeeding.

  • Anna

    Hi, I’m hoping you can help me. I’ve been exclusively breast feeding my two month old, however I recently started spotting and it seems my menstruation is returning. The bleeding is increasing since last night. My baby previously fed every 1.5-2 hours at night, which was exhausting me. I recently started swaddling her, and she now sleeps in 4 hour stretches at night, then returns to feeding every two hours around 4 am. Could the four hour night time stretches be the reason why my period is returning? Also, if I increase her night feeds again, can it cause my menstruation to stop? Thanks!

    • unwirklich admin

      Yes, there’s a good possibility that’s why you’re seeing bleeding, but it’s hard to say if it would stop again with more feeding. In theory, yes, but hormones don’t always react how they should. lol

  • Mina

    Hi! I have two kids..2,5 Yrs old and 8,5montha old..With my first i got my period when he was 10 days before he turn 8 months.. my 2nd one will be 9 months on 4th November Lord willing..I dint have my period yet..Im brestfeeding 2-3 times a day and he sleeps whole night since he was 1 month old..He eats solids too..Im woundering when will my period return?..I had some cramping, sensitivity on smell, dizzines ..I did the test few times and it was negative..We dont use birth control..

  • Monica R

    Like many of you Im slightly confused…My daughter is 7 months and is still breastfeeding on demand with solids becoming more frequent in her diet. I got what I thought was my first period at the end of August and bled for about 4 days. I am now 17 days late for what should have been my second period and had all of the period symptoms around when it should have come. Still having some cramping and backaches with serious fatigue. Have had a lot of unprotected sex and am not on any birth control. Are my hormones just off or could I be pregnant?

    • unwirklich admin

      You can become pregnant while breastfeeding, but then it wouldn’t be unusual to have irregular periods while breastfeeding either. If it were me, I’d take a test to be sure.

  • Lina

    Hi, I have a question. I have been breastfeeding for 20 months now, and beside the normal postpartum bleeding right after my son was born, I had no period. And then all of a sudden, I got a very light period when he was nineteen months old that was very, very light. It hasn’t stopped at all. It’s still super light, but I am a little worried, as it’s been about four and a half weeks. Has anyone else gone through this??? I am still breastfeeding, but only at nap times and bedtimes.

    • unwirklich admin

      I don’t know what would cause a 4 1/2 week bleed, I would call that out of normal range even for breast feeding. If it’s just spotting, that could be normal just from the hormone upset, but if it’s a consistent flow, you might consider visiting a care provider to try to find out what’s going on. Low estrogen is one possibility, but while breastfeeding that’s very strange.

  • Stefanie

    Hi I know this is an old poat but I was hoping for some insight, I have a 6 Month old I was breastfeeding exclusively for 5 months and during his sixth month I started to ween where I was Breastfeeding maybe once or twice a day. I had two postpartum periods that came on time and now my third is late almost a week and was wondering if its normal for periods to do this when you’re breastfeeding and weening. I know it’s a possibility I could be pregnant but I didn’t breastfeed my first so I’m just wondering if this can be normal for some women. Thanks

    • unwirklich admin

      Weaning can cause some hormonal flux, yes, but if you’re also sexually active right now, a pregnancy test might be a fair precaution. Especially if your periods were normalized prior to weaning.

  • Sarah

    Okay huge question ladies!
    I think I might be Pregnant, hoping I am actually haha
    I am a breastfeeding mother and am almost 8 months postpartum.
    It’s July 20th
    Two months ago, on may 8th, I had my period
    Then on June 6th I started again
    Had tons of unprotected sex between the 9th and the 12th of june..
    Then from July 1st through July 12th I had tons of unprotected sex, daily.
    So my period was supposedly due July 4th? But it never came
    I assumed I was pregnant.
    I’ve taken like 10 tests and one had a faint line but the rest were negative. .
    The around July 13th I had brown discharge and brown bleeding but it was light and only lasted maybe 3 days ? It is now the 20th, I just took another home test and it was negative. .
    Does it sound like I could be pregnant?
    I have had fatigue and nausea bloating and am constantly hungry and thirsty
    But my boobs are not tender at all

    • unwirklich admin

      Sadly breastfeeding causes enough hormonal flux it could be behind everything you describe. Your fertility is also decreased while breastfeeding. If you aren’t getting a regular period chances are you also aren’t ovulating, or regularly at least. I’m sure things will even out once you begin feeding less as your little one gets older.

  • Sue

    Thanks for posting. I do have a question. I was strictly breastfeeding for 4months then started to supplement with formula. At around 6/7 months I only breast fed really at night.. I started to loose my supply and slowly i started to produce only enough to for 1 breastfeeding session at night untill about 8 months and I lost my milk. I was getting regular periods from 6 weeks postpartum. A 28 days cycle spot on! And I ovulate regular. My baby is now 9 months on the 7th. And I missed my period. It’s been 8 days late. Pregnancy test are showing up negative… Weird. Could I still be pregnant? Or is it a hormonal change? Remember I barley was even breastfeeding the last few months.

    • unwirklich admin

      It’s unlikely the change is from breastfeeding from what you’ve said, but lots of other things can cause hormonal flux..stress, diet or activity changes, lack of sleep… the list goes on. I would wait another week, retest, if it’s still negative see what happens next cycle. If you don’t get a period, see your care provider.

      Sorry for the delayed reply, I was out of town for the holiday weekend.

  • Stefanie

    So glad I found this. My daughter is 14 months. My period resumed at about 10 months post partum. I had about 3 normal(ish) cycles ranging from 24-26 days. We started the weaning process and I missed a month (not pregnant) and she got sick so we stopped weaning and are just now getting back to it. Could this fluctuation cause irregularities? Of course I’m thinking the worse and googling everything and “perimenopause” comes up and I freak out. Hoping it’s just a shift in hormones because I’d like to get pregnant again real soon!

    • unwirklich admin

      Yes, stopping then starting feeding would cause some temporary weirdness. Though if you are close enough to menopause to be worrying about it, you also may want to speak with a care provider when you go to conceive again, pregnancy later in life can come with a special set of complications.

      • kylie

        iam 9 weeks pp, got my period at 5 weeks but it was only light and lasted 5 days…then now im expecting to have my second period but its only dark brown spotting with little red. im so worried, im ebf by the way. this is my 3rd child and didnt experience this with my other kids. whats going on?

        • unwirklich admin

          ebf? I’m not familiar with that acronym. While less common some women do have bleeding multiple months, I’d speak with your care provider anyway so she/he can check things out.

          • unwirklich admin

            I feel sort of dumb here. I looked at the wrong comment heading on this in my review cue (comments aren’t reviewed on page) and thought it was a comment on our bleeding during pregnancy page, I assumed you were 9 weeks pregnant and had bleeding at 5 weeks, then again now. I apologize. So, by PP you mean post pregnancy with exclusive breastfeeding…that probably would have clicked if I wasn’t thinking of fertility and pregnancy acronyms.

            I would guess the change is linked to your baby’s feeding habits. Newborns in that first month seem like they eat a lot, but in reality, that tummy is still pretty tiny. Then slowly baby becomes a more vigorous eater, your milk supply stables out and adjusts, and suddenly you’re feeding a lot more, which would affect your hormones and could cause a late, light period or none at all. In those early months period changes are fairly normal, which makes taking precautions as far as pregnancy important. Again, sorry for the confusion.

  • Lily

    I am breast feeding my son who is 7 weeks.
    My bleeding had changed to light brown spotting after delivery, but on February 18-21 I had red bleeding, then all the bleeding stopped. Today I feel back ache and stomach cramps and nauseous. Can I be pregnant? How early can I do a test?

    • unwirklich admin

      Congrats on your new wee one! It is possible to become pregnant again at 7 weeks, yes, though bleeding really can be weird while breastfeeding. There really is not normal. You can take a test about 14+ days after the sex you suspect pregnancy from.

        • unwirklich admin

          Yeah, there really is no normal while breastfeeding, it greatly upsets the normal cycle of hormones that cause your cycle, even a single day where your little one eats more/less can cause enough hormonal flux for weird bleeding. The heavier period is probably a result of the lighter prior periods and time since your last bleed, the spotting may just be a little estrogen dip. I wouldn’t worry unless you start getting signs of pregnancy, painful bleeding or bleeding that is constant/excessively heavy.

          • virginis

            Hi just found this page..my second baby is 15 months old now…still breastfeeding but just during nap and night exclusively..and bottle feeding by day or i can say alternately feeding…i got my first pospartum by 6mos.afterbirth..i have heavy period during two or three months…then missed for one month then return the next month…during the first months its hevy and lasted up to 1o to 16 days…and have different dates..i have my period last september lasted for 5 Days but i dont have my period up to now…but having spotting for about 6 or 8 days now…I feel bloating and some stomach ache…for about a week…and smell sensitivity sometimes…is there a chanca that I’m pregnant?imreally confused…

          • unwirklich admin

            It sounds like you’re getting periods now, but they’re irregular, which is entirely normal while still breastfeeding at all. Even so you can become pregnant even with irregular periods, it’s just harder to do. That’s why when breast feeding my suggestion is always to just test if you suspect you may be pregnant. If your symptoms are related to pregnancy, you’ll see a positive test.

  • Jessica Collins

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m on my second child and don’t remember having irregular periods when they returned with my first. #2 has been nursing MORE with teething and there’s no possibility that I’m pregnant right now, so I searched to see if irregular periods while nursing were normal (I thought so, but couldn’t remember), and as you stated – LOTS of forums! There are a couple of methods for using breastfeeding as birth control, though. They are as effective as the pill (which is 92% effective in typical use, and 99% effective with ideal use and a completely cooperative body), but you have to meet all of the criteria. Thanks again!

  • Mrs . Eniyan

    This is very helpful. I developed mastitis when my baby was one month old. I decreased breastfeeding while on antibiotics and nearly stopped because of the pain. I mainly just pumped and supplemented until she was 3 months. I had my period 3 times before she was 4 months. Then I got a second wind and decided to increase breastfeeding. I started taking herbal supplements for lactation. My breast milk increased but my period disappeared. I was a bit afraid but after the 1st negative test, I realized it was the increase in nursing that made my cycle irregular. This is my third child and the first time this has happened. I say that to just reiterate the fact that our bodies are all different and we all go through changes. Each pregnancy is also different even in postpartum.