Period While Breastfeeding: Missed or Irregular Periods 93


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

  • Love Ponce

    Hello can I ask you about my menstruation. My first born is now 1 year old and my period starts at her 6 months until 9 months but now I missed my period more than a months..am I pregnant?? Or is it normal..

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      It can be normal, if her feedings changed or there were other lifestyle factors, but pregnancy is also possible if there was intercourse (in which case you may want to test.)

  • J'Lynn

    Hi, I gave birth a year ago as of 9/6/16. I haven’t had a period up until this morning. I had the initial bleeding after birth but once that stopped I haven’t had a menstral cycle. I was wondering if it was normal to just all of a sudden get a heavy period again after a year? I was told I wouldn’t get a period while I was breastfeeding. I still breastfeed my son and I’m just curious as to if it’s happened to others before as I’m a little scared lol

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I assume you’ve introduced solid foods, most of the time when that happens feedings also decrease a bit and that decrease is enough for your cycle to resume even if you’re still breastfeeding for many ladies.

  • Ana

    Hi, I delivered in August of 2016. I exclusively breastfed up to 7 months…. I did have my period right away after delivering. Then once I stopped breastfeeding my LO, my period also stopped. I haven’t had my period since then and now it has been 5 months with no period. Weird? I did go to doctors and they tested my 3 times for pregnancy and negative. Finally my OB gave me hormone pills to help get my period. Its a pill I take for 10 days… well I only have 2 pills left and still NO PERIOD…..

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      Those don’t always work for everyone (the period kick starters, that is). It sounds like your issue is probably not related to breastfeeding but an underlying hormonal imbalance that didn’t surface until you stopped. Things like very low or high body fat, PCOS, or turning 35 are all risk factors for long cycles like this, some of which can be treated. You might try having a hormone panel done on your next visit to help narrow down the problem.

  • Polly

    Hi, so I posted a comment yesterday and I don’t think it went through. I just wondered your thoughts on this: I exclusively breastfed my baby until she was about 11 months but had six or seven regular periods before that. I slowly started giving her solids but still nursed the same and also pumped to store milk for an upcoming trip. In the last month (she’s 13 months now) I’ve given her lots of solids and decreased breastfeeding quite a bit and no more pumping. Now I’m four days late. Negative test. I’ve heard that increasing nursing can disrupt periods but I never thought a decrease would cause me to be late. I’m really discouraged because I’m going on vacation this next week and I was so excited I’d be done with my period. As it is I have major anxiety about starting the day I leave or mid trip. I’m sure there’s nothing to be done about that though. Just wondering what you think. Is this normal? Any way to know what my body is up to or how to control what it does?
    Thanks

    • Life with Gremlins admin

      I don’t see your previous comment in my spam bin or pending area, so it must have glitched out on you, I’m sorry. You’re right, generally a decrease in feedings starts a period rather than stopping it, but as any change in feeding can cause some hormonal flux, it’s possible to go either way. Depends on how your personal hormone balance reacts. You also have to consider that normal period variance is +/-3 days, so at 4 days late, you’re actually not that far off base yet. Give it a few more days, maybe retest if you still have a no show.

  • Lee Wolaver

    Question! My baby girl is almost 11 months. In may (on the 10th) I had my 1st period after having her (9 months ppt). Got it again in June, this time on the 4th. Slight irregularity in number but that’s typical for me. I’m still taking the progesterone only pill as well as still breastfeeding. We have introduced solids for a while now but she does prefer to nurse. I wasnt sexually active during may or most of June as her dad and I are having some relationship problems. But about mid June we started to have sex again and have been consistentilu since. No condoms just my BC which I never miss. So my question is this…

    It’s the 9th. 5 days past when I probably should have gotten my period. Should I test or wait it out? Could this just be a start stop thing because she has increased her nursing sessions all of a sudden (growth spurt maybe) or is there enough of a chance I’m pregnant again? I feel stupid asking…but this is the first time out of 3 that I’ve been able to successfully breastfeed and I am not sure what to expect here.

    Thanks!

    • unwirklich admin

      If she’s started nursing more, yes, that can cause a hormonal shift, but while breastfeeding there generally isn’t a norm. Most women find their cycles are irregular if they happen at all. I say if it’s going to cause you stress, pick up a pack of cheap tests to keep under the sink, just test once a month. With pill use I don’t think you need to do that, but what you think is more important than what I do, if that makes sense. 🙂

  • Connie

    I I’m a nursing mother of a 14 months baby.i am on Secure birth control pill since I gave birth.i haven’t been menstruating since i gave birth .last week I saw blood when I wiped and it went on for 4 days and stopped .this week again I saw blood again not heavy though.but I’m still on pill and I’m still breastfeeding .what is the meaning of this?am I pregnant or are my periods back?

    • unwirklich admin

      By 14 months I’d bet you’ve begin introducing solid foods, which will reduce feedings and can cause hormonal shift. It’s pretty normal for menstruation to begin again around 12-14 months in those that haven’t already.

  • Jean

    Hi I’m currently breastfeeding my 11 month old daughter since about nine months she only feeds during the night. Last month I got my period lasted five days and seemed normal. This month I’ve been getting cramps,back ache, sickness, I’ve been very tiered to the point of having to take a nap and have had an increase in cervical mucus that’s thick and stretchy (tmi sorry) and I also had a metallic taste in my mouth on and off for a day. I’m due the 27th (35 day cycles is what I had before getting pregnant) could I be pregnant or could this be because of breastfeeding. Also if I am pregnant does breastfeeding mess with testing?

    • unwirklich admin

      Breastfeeding won’t have any effect on a pregnancy test, no. As for the rest, it really could be either. Breastfeeding and pregnancy both can cause hormonal imbalance, which could be to blame for everything you listed. I will throw in though that for it to be pregnancy you would have to be at least 5 weeks for symptoms (but bleeding in pregnancy is also pretty common).

  • Rachael

    My daughter is 8 and a half months old now. I only bled for 4 weeks after i had her. I had one period a month after post pardom bleeding which only lasted 2 days. Then at 6 and 7 months i have what i thought resumed my period (they were both heavy and lasted 5 days or so) but now im over a week late. I haven’t tested but i have heard different stories on what’s considered ‘normal’ while BF.. Would you consider tbis normal? Could it be possible i might skip a period?

    • unwirklich admin

      Possibly, but usually if so there’s a change in routine somewhere as far as feeding levels, frequency, or other lifestyle factors in your life like diet, stress, sleep, etc. Honestly, I’d just take a test to be sure.

  • Brie

    Hi there! Thank you for this post – I found it super helpful!
    I had bery irregular periods before getting pregnant with my daughter.
    After she was born, my periods returned @ 4 months, including with Ovulation, even though we were Breastfeeding on demand.
    However, my last 3 “periods” have been simply brown spotting and I’m almost positive that I’m not ovulating, which sucks because we are trying for #2.
    My daughter is now 10 months old, eats 3 meals of table foods + snacks daily and we still nurse around 6 times in a 24hr period (including nighttime).

    My question is: is this spotting business fairly common, even after having full blown periods in previous cycles while breastfeeding?

    Thank you for your wisdom!

    • unwirklich admin

      Did you start any new supplements or make dietary/lifestyle changes for TTC? Often that’s what’s to blame for sudden cycle weirdness, which is annoying because often women are being hyper aware of their cycles when TTC, and it messes with their heads, and they stress out which makes the hormonal issues worse. While breastfeeding that effect could be even worse because the feedings are already altering hormone levels.

      • Brie

        oh my, yes! I had some trouble with supply around 8 mo & started on More Milk Special Blend supplements…… I can’t quite remember, but I think that was around the same time my period got weird.

        I am currently weaning off of those herbs – I wonder if I will see my periods return to more normal…?

        What insight! Thank you!!

        • unwirklich admin

          Glad to be helpful 🙂 It may take a little while, but yes, stopping the supplement should get things at least closer to where they were before. You might get a better picture of where you’re at hormonally with BBT tracking, it would if any thing let you know if you were ovulating at least.

          • Brie

            I wish I could temp! I know it would in theory eliminate some of the confusion, but alas there is just no consistently reliable way to do it when I have a little one!

          • unwirklich admin

            Oh I feel you there, I didn’t think of that, the waking would likely upset your temps. If you have a regular feeding schedule (like LO wakes around the same time) you’d probably still be able to spot a pattern, it might not be as clear though. What I did when trying for gremlins 3/4 was I kept the thermometer under my pillow that way I could just reach under and take my temp the moment I woke up, and add it to my app when I got a chance. Not gonna lie and say my older kids didn’t discover and steal it a few times, but it worked for the most part.