Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods 131

With 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 therebreastfeeding period, period while breastfeedingafter. 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’re 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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131 thoughts on “Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods

  • Inah

    I have a 13 month old, and I exclusively breastfed him. Now that’s he’s a year old I mix in almond milk along with him eating solids. He still nurses morning,afternoon and night. Two months ago my period came 3 days late. And this month it’s 3 days late again, I took 3 pregnancy test (one a week before my period was due, 2nd one 4 days before and the 3rd one on the day I was expecting). All the test came back negative. We haven’t been using protection but I’m worried because I’m late but the test aren’t coming back positive. Any suggestions?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      There are some ladies who get negative home tests and end up being pregnant, in those cases a blood test is used to confirm. Normal period variance is actually +/-3 days though, so my thought here is it’s probably just normal hormonal flux. If it’s going to stress you out wondering though, I’d just go in and have the test done to ease your mind. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Hi .My baby is a year and a month old and still breastfeeding him 3-4 times a day also at night and i got my period when my baby turned 1 which was on April 11 and still havent got my period late 4 days .having lower back pain and abdominal pain also alittle nausea sometime and less appetite .I made 4 home pregnancy tests just to make sure im not pregnant.
    does this sound normal ?

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Normal period variance is actually +/-3 days, so at 4 days, you’re not super late. Since you have negative tests, I’d bet it’ll show soon. 🙂

  • Mirjana

    Hi, I gave birth to my DS on September 3rd, he is now eight months old. I am still breastfeeding him but since he was five months old we started feeding him solids. He has regular meals 4-5 times a day and i throw in nursing 4-5times a day. We stopped the night nursing few weeks ago. Also, soon after delivery we started trying for another baby but all of my tests were negative. The last time was February 22. I really thought I was pregnant but the tests were all negative (blood and urine) so I am wondering is it normal that i still didn’t get my period? He sleeps through the night and really isn’t nursing much. I just figured I keep nursing as long as possible to boost his immune system.. Sorry for the long email and thank you.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      When menstruation resumes while breastfeeding really varies from woman to woman. Some ladies see it even while exclusively breastfeeding shortly after labor. Others can feed less than once a day and still not get a period. If you had a negative blood test, that’s a definitive answer. Urine tests can sometimes throw false negatives, but not blood. If you’re TTC, you might try ovulation tracking to ensure you are actually ovulating. 🙂

  • Josie

    Hope you can help, my post partum bleeding stopped at around 5 weeks, I started the mini pill but got my period every 2 weeks for 7 days (AHHH!) along with some awful skin changes, so I stopped it (and used other means of protection) my period then became regular and now all of a sudden it has stopped. My little girl is almost 4 months now and I have always and still am breast feeding exclusively, mine/her sleeping patterns have been consistent since she was born. Is it normal’ for it to just stop like this? I can’t even bring myself to do a pregnancy test, it’s totally freaking me out

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I would just go ahead and take a test, it’s the easiest way to ease your worry. It would be a little odd to suddenly have your period stop if there’s been no change in feedings at all, though it is possible little miss is eating less or more per feeding and that’s what threw things off. Around 4 months is when a lot of babies start to pick up and growth.

  • Irish hermoso

    I had my 3rd baby on july 2, 2017 my period back when he turned 6mos. I exclusively breastfed him for 9mos. now, Before my period came this month my baby got sick I had sleepless nights and and Im very tired taking care of him and he didnt almost take solid foods and breastmilk because of his sickness.. I got my period on april 6 but it was just a spotting my period suddenly stopped. What happened to my cycle? Please advice. Thanks

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Changes in sleep cycle can actually affect your cycle, so it’s possible that the sleepless nights were the culprit. It could also be some hormonal flux from the feeding change while he was sick. Chances are it’ll self-resolve next cycle. 🙂

  • Sarita Fernandes

    Help !!!
    I had my baby delivered on 10th Sept 2017. My lochia bleeding stopped by 22 sept. My husband who is out of country working came down for 3 days visit n we had sex on 22, 23, 24 Oct 17 after that he went back abroad to resume job. After he went I got my period on 7th Nov 17…. 3rd Dec 17… 1st Jan 2018….28th Jan 18…28th Feb 18. Now its been 4 days delay and I haven’t got my period. My usual cycle is of 27-31 days. I never had sex after 22,23,24 Oct as I mentioned above. I breastfed my baby for 3 months exclusively day night. And after 3 months I breastfed day night along with formula milk and other solid foods. Please advice

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’ve had periods since November and no intercourse since, it could be from feeding level changes at night or just a normal late period. The occasional off cycle is considered entirely normal, and there isn’t always a clear reason why. It’s a pattern of weirdness you’d want to watch out for, especially if there have been no changes in feedings or your lifestyle.

  • Shantha

    Hi, I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding my 17 month boy and my period returned since he was 6 months old. It’s been consistent and regular 28 day cycle- I have not missed a month. Now I’m a week late but pregancy card tested negative? Could increased latching due to teething cause a missed period? It’s baffling as I have been regular for so long now.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Nipple stimulation can have hormonal effects, yes, if he’s suckling more as a result of the teething. Even in non-breastfeeding women, the occasional late period is considered normal. It’s usually a result of late or absent ovulation.

  • Marie Imelda E Soriano

    Hi! This site has been very helpful.
    I have a queation too. I had my period back after 6 mos of giving birth and been having monthly visitors since then. But it’s almost the end of the mobth and no period yet. I’ve been doing a lnedar monitoring and had unprotected sex on the day i was expecting my period and few days after that. Could that get me pregnant?

    Also, i’ve shifted to 100% fully breastfeeding my son since mid feb, does that affect my period flow? Plus i had nights this month that changed my sleeping pattern.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If by switching to 100% you mean you fed less than that before, yes, an increase in feeding will definitely affect your hormones. Sleep changes can as well, just less dramatically. On the second note, sex so late in your cycle is unlikely to result in pregnancy, especially while breastfeeding as fertility is often reduced, but it’s not impossible.

  • Samantha

    My daughter just turned 19 months. I breastfeed on demand day and night. I got my period back when she was 13 months old and we started trying for a second baby 4 months later (In December). This is our 4th month trying, and of those 4 months, I’ve had mid-cycle spotting for 3 of them. It seems like just as my cm is starting to change and become more fertile, the spotting starts and the cm goes away. Also, I’ve been tracking ovulation with OPKs and for the last 2 months I didn’t even get a positive lh surge after I had the spotting those months. I really, really want to have another baby. Do you think the prolactin is suppressing the estrogen and progesterone and preventing me from being able to ovulate and get pregnant? And do you think I need to wean altogether in order to get pregnant. Every month that I see the spotting, I get so sad because I feel like my chances are ruined for that month before even having a chance to try! I started trying to temp too, but the results are invalid since I’m not getting the straight 4 hours of sleep to get consistent temp results. It’s so hard to find any information online about this, since it’s so specific, so any wisdom you can impart is SO very much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance for your help!!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Spotting can sometimes happen at ovulation, but then it is odd you aren’t getting positive OPKs. Have you tried BBT tracking? It can be a reliable way to confirm ovulate is occurring, which unfortunately, you’re right in that it might not be. If your cycles are regular, that’s a good sign that it is though. Breastfeeding does affect fertility, how much so really can vary from person to person, so whether weaning is necessary is hard to answer. I would first find out whether you are or aren’t ovulating and go from there.

  • Kimberly A

    My name is Kim. I have been breastfeeding my LO for almost 17 months (02/10). My first period came back 12/24/2017. It appeared as normal as it was before it left. It started heavy and went about 6 days (my typical norm). This January 2018 no period. My son still breastfeeds. Is something wrong? What are your thoughts? I’d appreciate it!

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It’s normal to have sporadic periods while breastfeeding, yes, but if you’ve also had unprotected sex, it may be worth taking a pregnancy test just to be sure, as you can become pregnant while breastfeeding.

  • Suraiya

    Hi i posted before about a similar problem but i just need so more advice and some peace of mind. Basically my daughter is 15months old and i did not get my period till she was 1years because i am breastfeeding after that i had a short period very light and then did not bbleed for afew days or weeks then i started to bleed again for afew days and it was like a period but i keep bleeding on and off. When i feel like i need a bowel movement badly i will spot red blood and after a bowel movement i will sometimes have blood too i bleed almost everyday well spot some days i wont but its very regular is it my periods sorting them self out or can it be something to worry about. I will really appreciate your help.

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’ve had bleeding on a daily basis for an extended period of time, I’d recommend just seeing your health care provider. It’s entirely possible it is hormonal, but it’s also not really something you typically see in breastfeeding moms without something else going on.

  • jenny

    hi ..this is my 1st baby through cs..copper t inserted on delivery day… i got my periods after my baby completed 6 months..still breast feeding my baby last period was on the 15 aug ..supposed to get it on the 15th aug but did not get it ..just little spotting..and now its nov 16th still no sign of period ..for the past 3 days i hv tender nipples n it hurts when i breast feed her..2 months missed period it normal or i hv a chance of being pregnant.??.i took a home pregnancy test 4 days ago and shows negative ..

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      If you’ve missed 2 months and your test is still negative, pregnancy is very unlikely. A blood test would be the next step if you still suspect pregnancy, but I always tell people that there is no normal while breastfeeding. It’s entirely ok to have irregular cyles and odd symptoms because even small changes in feeding levels can cause hormonal flux.

    • Veronica Cespedes

      My daughter is 15 months and also breastfeeds at night I’m waiting for my period to come and no show and I’m always protected as well. I just get frustrated and start getting nerved thinking I’m pregnant again.